ADB, Android Debug Bridge, is a command line utility included in Google’s Android SDK. ADB can control your device via USB from a PC, copy files back and forth, install and uninstall applications, run shell commands, and more.
We’ve covered some other tricks that require ADB in the past, including backing up and restoring your smartphone or tablet and installing Android apps on your SD card by default. ADB is used for a variety of geeky Android tricks.
Step One: Download Platform Tools
Go to Android SDK Platform Tools download page. Select your operating system link from the Downloads section. This will download a ZIP file, which you can decompress wherever you want to store your ADB files – they’re portable, so you can put them wherever you want.
That’s all we have to do now. Just be sure to remember where you unzipped the files, we’ll need to access them later.
Step 2: Enable USB debugging on your phone
To use ADB with your Android device, you must enable a feature called “USB Debugging”. Open your phone’s app drawer, tap the Settings icon, and select About Phone. Scroll all the way and tap on the “Build number” item seven times. You should receive a message that you are now a developer.
Return to the main Settings page, and you will see a new option in the System section called Developer Options. Open that, and enable “USB Debugging”.
Later, when you connect your phone to your PC, you will see a popup titled “Do you allow USB debugging?” on your phone. Check the “Always allow from this computer” box and click OK.
Step Three: Test ADB and Install Your Phone Drivers (If Needed)
Open a command prompt and change the directory to where you previously unzipped the file. You can do this by entering the command below. Replace the file destination with your own:
CD C:Program Filesplatform-tools
To test if ADB is working properly, connect your Android device to your computer using a USB cable and run the following command:
You should see a device in the list. If your device is connected but nothing appears in the list, you will need to install the appropriate drivers.
In the vast majority of cases, your computer will automatically detect your phone and set it up with the appropriate drivers. If it doesn’t, you can usually find the drivers for your device from a file XDA Developers forums.
If you download drivers manually, you may have to force Windows to find them on your device. Open Device Manager (click on Start, type “Device Manager”, press Enter), locate your device, right-click on it, and select Properties. You may see a yellow exclamation mark next to the device if its driver software is not installed correctly.
On the Driver tab, click Update Driver Software.
Use the Browse my computer for driver software option.
Find the drivers you downloaded for your device.
Once your device drivers are installed, connect your phone and try the adb devices command again:
If all goes well, you should see your device in the list, and you’re ready to start using ADB!
Step Four (Optional): Add ADB to System PATH
As it stands, you have to go to the ADB folder and open a command prompt there whenever you want to use it. However, if you add it to the Windows System PATH, it won’t be necessary – you can just type
adb From the command prompt to run commands whenever you want, no matter what folder you are in.
The process is slightly different in Windows 11, 10, and 7, so check out our complete guide to editing your system path for the steps required to do so.
Related: How to edit the system path for easy access to the command line in Windows
Useful ADB Commands
In addition to a variety of tricks that require ADB, ADB offers some useful commands:
install adb A: package.apk – Install the package in C: package.apk on your computer on your device.
uninstall adb Package name – Uninstalls the package with package.name from your device. For example, you can use the name com.rovio.angrybirds to uninstall the Angry Birds app.
adb . payment C: File / Memory Card / File – Pushes a file from your computer to your device. For example, the command here pushes the file in C: file on your computer to /sdcard/file on your machine
adb pull /sdcard/file c:file – Pulls a file from your device to your computer – Works like adb push, but in reverse.
adb logcat – View your Android device history. It can be useful for debugging applications.
ADB shell – Gives you an interactive Linux command line shell on your device.
ADB shell Command Runs the specified shell command on your device.
For a complete guide on ADB, consult Android Debug Bridge . page On Google for Android Developers.