How to Root the Google Pixel & Pixel XL (Video)

The Pixel and Pixel XL are not the easiest to root. Google has added a lot of security to the system files and, long story short, developers have had to cleverly come up with a systemless root method (which is way harder than it sounds). On top of this, Google removed the recovery partition which was used heavily in most rooting methods as well as being used for flashing custom ROMs etc. Chainfire, recognized master of all things root (might be his official title?), though has developed a version of SuperSU (the program used to control what apps get root permissions etc.) that works with this new partition/security structure. For those that want a more detailed explanation of the situation, this post on XDA does a good job of explaining it.

Regardless of how they managed to do it, it works! I managed to do it relatively easily (but not without some hiccups that I explain further below) and put together this tutorial and video for you. Let me know how it goes for you in the comments below.

Here’s how to root the Pixel or Pixel XL.

Before You Begin

  1. This could void the warranty of your device. We won’t be held responsible for anything that happens from doing this tutorial so please proceed at your own risk.
  2. This procedure has been written keeping the Windows version of ADB in mind. If you use a Mac or a Linux computer, the steps will slightly vary.
  3. Please head over to our how to set up ADB procedure to install the ADB suite on your PC.
  4. This should erase all the data stored on your device. So please backup everything that you don’t want to lose.
  5. This should also flash a custom recovery on your device.
  6. You should only do this procedure on a Google Pixel or a Google Pixel XL device.
  7. You will also need a USB drive and the USB OTG to USB-C adapter that came with your Pixel. This is because of how the phone is encrypted, we need to load the files from a different storage device. If you don’t have either you can get a great, very inexpensive USB 3.0 Drive here and an inexpensive OTG Adapter here.

How to Root the Google Pixel & Pixel XL

Root Google Pixel & Pixel XL

To root the device, you’ll first unlock the bootloader, boot into a custom recovery to actually install the custom recovery, use the custom recovery to flash SuperSu to then finally gain root. Here’s how to do that all.

Downloading Required Files

Regardless of having a Verizon or non-Verizon model, download all of these:

download-files

  1. Download SuperSU and save it to your desktop.
    SuperSU (Download link’s given in the first post)
  2. Download TWRP Recovery in both .img and .zip formats and save to your desktop.
    TWRP .zip and .img for Pixel
    TWRP .zip and .img for Pixel XL

Only if you have Verizon do you need to download these:

download-depixel

  1. Download dePixel8 and save it to your desktop.
    dePixel8

Regardless of whether you have Verizon or another version, enable USB debugging on the phone and plug it in using the steps below.

  1. Head to Menu > Settings > About phone on your device and tap on Build number for 7 times and it’ll say you’re a developer.
    build-number
  2. Head to Menu > Settings > Developer options and turn on USB debugging.
    usb-debugging
  3. Plug in your device to your PC using a USB cable.
    plug-in

If you’re on Verizon, please use the below section to unlock the bootloader on your device. Otherwise, skip to the next section.

Unlocking the Bootloader on the Verizon Google Pixel & Pixel XL (Only for Verizon Users)

  1. Copy dePixel 8 from your desktop over to the ADB folder located in the C:/ drive of your PC.
    depixel
  2. Open the ADB folder and hold down Shift on your keyboard and right-click anywhere on the screen and select Open command window here.
    cmd
  3. When the command prompt window opens, type in the following commands hitting Enter after each:
    adb push dePixel8 /data/local/tmp
    adb shell chmod 755 /data/local/tmp/dePixel8
    adb shell /data/local/tmp/dePixel8
    verizon-commands
  4. Your device should reboot into the bootloader mode.
    bootloader-mode
  5. Once your device enters the bootloader mode, type in the following command into the command prompt window and hit Enter:
    fastboot oem unlock
    oem-unlock
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions for unlocking the bootloader on your Verizon Google Pixel or Pixel XL.
    IMAGE

So, that was how you could unlock the bootloader on a Verizon Google Pixel or Pixel XL phone.

If you have a variant of Pixel or Pixel XL other than Verizon, then please use the following section to unlock the bootloader on your device:

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  • Austin Baker

    for some reason the dePixel8 file will not download it redirects me to a weird ass encryption page. is this file still downloadable
    please help

  • Peyton whtford

    at the last step when i pressed reboot it doesn’t reboot normally

    • Peyton whtford

      nvm

  • Michael Young

    Does this work with 7.1.1?

    • That’s what my phone was on when I did the video. If you have Verizon though check with the developer of depixel to make sure that part works though.

      • Michael Young

        Yes I’ve gotten Verizon. I’ve been told it’s impossible if you are on 7.1.1 but please tell me there is a way.

        • Sorry but you’ll have to check with the developer of depixel for more info on that.

          • Stovall

            dePixel has stated that they are not looking to update the program and that we’re basically sol unless someone else figures it out

  • Josemi

    So this is the systemless method or the normal one?

    • Systemless. Sort of the only method I know of thanks to the new partition layout, unless you know a newer method that doesn’t use systemless?

      • Josemi

        I dont. But do you know if I can uninstall system apps that come with the pixel or I cant modify anything in the system folder?

        • Not sure since I’ve never tried to remove any of the apps since there isn’t much bloatware in my opinion. You’ll have to check with the developer of the systemless root (chainfire) and see.

          • Josemi

            Could you try and see for me, please? I say that because if it doesnt work I will not take the risk and root my device for nothing. I would be really glad. Thanks

          • Sorry but I can’t do the research for you. Good luck though.

          • Josemi

            I mean if you tried on your rooted pixel

  • Dino Zambaftis

    I followed all the steps, which were really easy to follow by the way, thank you, and when the phone rebooted supersu was not in my app drawer. The version I used was the newest one they had which is SuperSU-v2.79-201612051815. Does that one not work properly with this phone for some reason or did I do something else wrong? Thanks again for the tutorial and the help.

    • If you did the steps and it worked it should be fine. Did you use the same version of SuperSU I linked here in the video? Ended up using a USB stick etc etc?

      • Dino Zambaftis

        That was exactly the problem. The correct file is SR3-SuperSU-v2.79-SR3-20170114223742. Just in case someone has the same problem I had and is searching for a solution. Thanks for the help

  • Stovall

    This information is outof date for Verizon Pixel phones as of Nougat 7.1.1

    • It’s not out of date, the creator of dePixel just needs to update their app and this will work.

  • Piyush Hansda

    i got root access successfully. Running android 7.1.1 with 5th march security patch update. Though unlocking the bootloader factory resetted the device. everything else worked out fine.

    • Yeah it does that. Mentioned it in the Before You Begin Section. But glad it worked for you!

      • Piyush Hansda

        Thanks for the great tutorial man.

        • Thanks! Glad it could help!

          • duum

            I am not reading about anyone else with the march 5 update being able to unlock thier bootloader – is this confirmed to work with the march 5 update

            thank you

          • If you have a noon Verizon version the update shouldn’t matter since Google let’s is unlock the bootloader still but check the developers page linked above to see if he mentions anything or ask him for help there with his program.

          • duum

            unfortuneatly I have a verizon phone – is there any hope?

          • Not unless someone fixes DePixel, sorry!

  • Keegan Kuhn

    Is it possible to “un-root” this to “un-void” your warranty?

  • JDredd

    The process says all of my data will erased. Will I still be able to recover it via backups once the process is over?

    • So long as you save things OFF of the phone you can put those things back. Anything on the phone will be erased.

      • JDredd

        Thanks! I feel so stupid asking this but…how do I save data off the phone I guess, “properly”? I know it’s a n00b question but I don’t want to screw anything up.

  • uvdevnull

    This does not works with 7.1.1 or newer. Apparently it was patched and dePixel8 doesn’t support it.

    • Only for Verizon. It’ll still work for normal pixels I believe.

  • I’m getting a black screen after running ‘fastboot boot twrp.img’. ADB is still active so I can run ‘adb reboot bootloader’ to get back to the regular bootloader. But I can’t seem to get into TWRP. Any thoughts? Regular Pixel with unlocked bootloader.

    • Check the twrp.img file (redownload it as well in case it was corrupt), make sure it’s also in the correct folder with adb in it and try again.

      • Thanks for your fast reply! I followed the whole tutorial, but didn’t set up the phone again after unlocking the bootloader. I already enabled USB debugging before unlocking the bootloader, so I thought I could skip step 5-8 of the Flashing section. However, unlocking the bootloader wiped everything, so I had to start it normally and enable USB debugging again. Successfully rooted now! 🙂

        Maybe you can update the text before the Flashing section to something like the following so users don’t forget to reboot.

        • Ha, well that’s what you get for skipping my steps ;P
          Going to feature your comment instead of changing the tutorial as I think that’ll help people, too.

          Thanks for responding with the solution and glad it all worked out!

          • Sure! Thanks again!

          • Christopher Thomas

            @TheUnlockr:disqus i ran into the same issue as @Flitskikker:disqus but i followed all your steps exactly. i just keep getting a blank screen after the fastboot boot twrp.img command. I even redownloaded the img file twice but still no difference. usb debugging is enabled as well. Thanks in advance.

  • William Fugere

    doesn’t work. when i do fastboot oem unlock, it fails. does android 7.1.2 work?

    • Try this instead of fastboot oem unlock and let me know if it works?

      fastboot flashing unlock

  • Luke Priddle

    Hey i’m not sure what im doing wrong, but as soon as I installed the first zip file and rebooted the phone in recovery it wont boot back up. Theres no way for me to reboot my phone right now. I can pull up the bootloader and run twrp again but my phone still wont boot into its normal state.

  • Ayomiposi

    Hey i’m not sure what im doing wrong, but as soon as I installed the first zip file and rebooted the phone in recovery it wont boot back up. Theres no way for me to reboot my phone right now. I can pull up the bootloader and run twrp again but my phone still wont boot into its normal state.

    • Do the unrooting tutorial to get back to stock – https://theunlockr.com/2017/02/01/unroot-google-pixel-pixel-xl/

      • Luke Priddle

        Hey man, thanks for the reply, I got it back to stock and it works fine. I do still want to root it, however im not sure why the root went sideways, I am on the Bell network in Canada, would that have something to do with it?

        • No problem! And that shouldn’t matter but I don’t have a version to test with so just check online for rooting the Bell Pixel and see if anything comes up that might be different. Also check the featured comment above in case that’s part of your issue. Good luck!

          • Luke Priddle

            Yeah I followed all the steps the same and as soon as I complete step 19 it just gets stuck on an endless boot cycle, it wont load into twrp recovery. It just brings you to the please lock bootloader screen then flashes the google start screen then repeats itself.

          • Well at least the urnooting tutorial is working to get you back to stock. You’ll have to look online and see if there is maybe a different version of recovery for your specific model. Good luck

  • SuperGoldGamer

    Hey dude, I am getting stuck on the most likely obvious part, I can’t seem to find out how to download the dePixel8 file! I hope you can respond!

  • Lily Gee

    stuck at bootloop when i reboot recovery! please help!

  • Vernon Lumpkin Jr.

    1st off thanks for this tutorial, worked great for me.
    Until 3 hrs ago when twrp, super super, and a few meaningless apps… Facebook Google drive, keyboard, etc.updated. Now I have lost root. Not sure if it was the actual updates or it said it had to update binary. So to get root back I’m guessing I have to delete twrp and super su, and redo tutorial? What about a few root app? Titanium, a disabler to stop updates etc. I’m still on April 7.1.2 verified n settings. Thanks

    • That’s odd. Did you update the OS or just apps in the play store?

      • Vernon Lumpkin Jr.

        Lol just the playstore updates

        • Vernon Lumpkin Jr.

          Now root checker root not properly installed

          • Vernon Lumpkin Jr.

            Root has been functioning great for 4-6 weeks since install and system update freeze. Oh no. Hope system update don’t re awake

      • Vernon Lumpkin Jr.

        Ok. Turn off fone and held power+ vol down, twrp is intact and fictional. Some how it’s just the root part of super su and SuperSU pro + binary code update. Guess I’ll get hold of them and should just HV to rework root part of tutorial. Thanks

      • Vernon Lumpkin Jr.

        Ok. According to SuperSU forum, they screwed up an update 2.8, newest. Don’t take it! All who did lost root. I’m rolling back to previous. And make sure if I take next it’s 2.81

        • Ha, OK well hopefully that’s all you need to do and they’ll patch the next version of SuperSU. Thanks for reporting back what happened to help others out!

  • Jesus Lango Jr.

    Will this work on Verizon 7.1.2?

    • I don’t have a Verizon phone anymore so I can’t test but you can try and worse case it’ll just fail. Also maybe check with the DePixel site linked above as it’s needed for Verizon and if he didn’t update it, none of this will work.

      • Jesus Lango Jr.

        Alright thanks ill give it a try and see what happens

        • Check with DePixel first actually, cause if he never updated it there’s no point in going through the headache. Good luck!

  • John Augustus Folger

    anyword if it works with 7.1.2? Verizon?

    • So it works with 7.1.2 not Verizon version for sure, but the Verizon version no one has reported back. You’ll have to check with the DePixel creators over on XDA. Good luck.

  • Jakke Hamm

    This will be my first time ever trying to root a phone so I am certainly nervous about doing so. My question is what are the direct links to all the downloads that I need because I am getting confused on the correct versions. The phone I am getting is a Pixel XL direct from Google and it will be used on the Verizon network. So a follow up question is should I activate the phone before I root it or after? Any other advice for a first time rooter would be greatly appreciated as well. Thank you for your assistance.
    UPDATE: Got stuck in a boot loop after trying to flash the TWRP.ZIP file. and adb isn’t recognizing my phone. Any suggesting? It’ll loop a few times then stop, I’ll then hold the power button and i get a message at first
    “[Ramdump] Writing to EXT4 file…
    Please press VolUP+ VolDown to stop”
    Then i’ll get the “Please lock the bootloader” message.
    Then the Google logo will flash and it’ll restart into the “Please lock bootloader” a few times and then nothing.
    Please help.

  • Aamir Ashraf

    I have a huge problem. After rooting I tired factory resetting to restore my data.
    Now, its pretty much stuck on a bootloop.
    Something like “writing to ext4 file” comes up

    Can someone help me fix this?