Rooting an Android device has become far too common today, what with the cheap phones coming over from China every month. Fooling around with a smartphone makes you feel even smarter, but you wouldn’t be foolproof unless you knew the most useful and frequented ADB fastboot commands list for Android.
Anyone who has ever tried to root their Android smartphone or tablet would have come across the ADB Fastboot commands. Moreover, flashing a custom recovery tool such as TWRP is also quite common among Android developers. These commands assist in getting the job done- from the system reboot to enter the bootloader and to even move files to & from PC to the Android device.
The scope of understanding how to use & execute ADB Fastboot commands list is undeniable but for that, you need to know what it is that you are doing and how to retrace your steps in case something goes awry!
What are ADB & Fastboot commands?
ADB Fastboot commands are system utilities that give you access to the back-end Android system while your device is connected to either a Mac, Windows PC or even Linux. The basic structure remains the same for all three OS and it is a tad bit easier on Windows.
Since you would generally be using the ADB and Fastboot commands to transfer unsupported and potentially dangerous ZIP/APK files to your Android devices via computer, it is best to use a Mac or Linux OS, rather than Windows, since the latter is vulnerable to almost everything.
There is another wireless way to execute ADB commands on your Android but that is far more complicated and falls outside the realm of understanding for a non-developer.
ADB is used when Android is running on the device. It allows user access to system folders, open hidden files and make changes. If your phone isn’t rooted, you may not be able to access many things, so I’ll just assume that you have a rooted Android device.
Fastboot, on the other hand, can only be used when Android is not running. You need to boot the device into ‘fastboot mode’. This is because you need to access the device’s partition and any changes that you make over there will not reflect in real-time. Same logic as Windows Partition which many of you must have performed at some point in your life.
In other words, fastboot is a diagnostic tool only used when your Android system fails to boot the normal way. People use fastboot commonly to install a custom recovery.
Where do you enter the ADB fastboot commands?
You need a Terminal on Mac & Linux or a Command Prompt on Windows, easy! Although most of you might feel a bit scared about entering a meaningless code, it isn’t really all that boring.
Prerequisites to setting up and using ADB fastboot commands:
Enable the developer options on your Android device by going to Settings, then About phone and tap on Build number seven times. You will see a pop-up on the screen saying “You have successfully enabled Developer options.”
Then proceed to Settings, Developer options, then select USB debugging and click OK or YES, whichever you see on the screen.
Lucky for the newbies, Google has just released their entire set of ADB and Fastboot tools which you can get from the Android Developer website.
If you are on Windows, make sure that you also download the relevant OEM drivers for your specific device.
Using Command Prompt or Terminal
Open the command prompt on Windows or Terminal on Mac and Linux, and navigate your way to the SDK (platform-tools) that you downloaded from Android Developer website. Don’t forget to unzip the file and extract the folder named platform-tools.
- Connect your device using a USB cable to the computer.
- Navigate using the command: cd[path to platform-tools] for example: cd /home/ubuntu/Downloads/platform-tools
- Or you can make it easy for you by typing cd then allow one space and drag the platform-tools folder into the Terminal window. The path will autofill magically.
On Windows, you can press Shift+right-click of the mouse on the platform-tools folder to select Open Command Prompt Here.
Differences between Windows and Mac or Linux:
On Windows, you can type adb[command line] or fastboot[command line] whereas, on Mac and Linux, it needs to be ./adb and ./fastboot
Note: I’ll be using Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr for the purpose of this illustration.
This ADB Fastboot commands list will perform basic functions on your Android device.
- adb reboot– reboots the Android device in normal mode. Typically used after flashing an APK file into the system. You can reboot the device back to Android even after a successful recovery of an older OS.
- adb reboot recovery– start the device in recovery mode if a recovery is already installed on the device. A stock recovery is pre-installed on every device, but with a custom recovery, you can manually choose which recovery should the device fire up when needed.
- adb reboot bootloader– use this command to enter the bootloader or fastboot mode.
- fastboot reboot bootloader– sometimes you may need to reboot the device while making changes in the back-end but you need to reboot back to fastboot, that’s when you can make use of this command line.
- fastboot flash XYZ.zip– flash a zip file (APK file) via fastboot mode.
- fastboot flash recovery XYZ.img– use this fastboot command line to flash a recovery image file into custom recovery.
- fastboot oem unlock– to unlock the bootloader of your Android device.
- fastboot oem lock– to relock the bootloader of your device.
- fastboot devices– displays all the connected devices.
- adb pull [mention the path to file on device] [mention path to any destination folder on your Windows PC] – only possible when custom recovery is installed on the device. With this command line, you can copy files located anywhere on your phone and save it to a user desired destination folder on a Windows computer.
- adb push [mention path to any destination folder on your Windows PC] [mention the path to file on device] – only possible when custom recovery is installed on the device. Use this command line, to send an APK or a ZIP file from your Windows PC to the Android device.
- adb install [mention the path to file]– installs an APK or a ZIP file on your phone. It is mostly used by app developers and debugging experts.
- adb uninstall [package name]– to completely remove an app from the device’s RAM, you need to enter the full package name. When you ‘Uninstall’ an app on the surface level, it would retain an image or cache in the RAM. Using this ADB command line you can completely erase the entire package and its corresponding image files from the device.
- adb shell wm density [dpi]– Change the pixel density of your phone display easily. A lower DPI would fit more content on the screen while a higher number would fit less content.
- adb sideload [path to update.zip]– using the custom recovery, sideload an update.zip firmware to update an existing APK file on the phone. Developers make use of this to install a major phone update that hasn’t been officially released by their phone maker yet. Not recommended for amateurs.