Android

What is ADB? How to Install ADB, Common Uses, and Advanced Tutorials

ADB is something that numerous Android devotees use, however its maximum capacity is frequently ignored. ADB means “Android Debug Bridge,” and it is an order line instrument that is utilized to speak with a cell phone, tablet, smartwatch, set-top box, or whatever other gadget that can run the Android working framework (even an emulator). Explicit orders are incorporated with the ADB double and keeping in mind that some of them chip away at their own, most are orders we send to the associated gadget.

ADB allows you to do things on an Android device that may not be suitable for everyday use, yet can greatly benefit your user or developer experience. For example, you can install apps outside of the Play Store, debug apps, access hidden features, and bring up a Unix shell so you can issue commands directly on the device. So for security reasons, Developer Options need to be unlocked and you need to have USB Debugging Mode enabled as well. Not only that, but you also need to authorize USB Debugging access to the specific PC that you’re connected to with a USB cable.

What is ADB?

Since ADB is a client-server program, there are three components that make up the entire process. First, we have what Google calls the Client, the computer you have connected to your Android device. It’s from this computer that we are sending commands to our device through the USB cable (and wirelessly as well in some cases). Next up is the daemon (also known as adbd), and this is a service that is currently running on both the computer as well as the Android device and allows the latter to accept and execute commands.

The last of the three components of ADB is called the Server and this is a piece of software that actually manages the communication between the client and the daemon. So after you type in an ADB command in a command prompt, PowerShell, or a terminal, it’s the server that is running as a background process on your computer that sends this command to the daemon. All three components work together to give you this type of access to your smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, and more.

How Does ADB Work?

Because there are three pieces that makeup ADB (the Client, Daemon, and the Server), this requires certain pieces to be up and running in the first place. So if you have freshly booted the computer (and you don’t have it setup to start the daemon on boot), then you will need it to be running before any communication can be sent to the Android device. You’ll see this the following message in the command prompt or terminal, as it will check to make sure the daemon is running.

What is ADB - Start Service

If the daemon isn’t running, then it will start the process and tell you which local TCP port it has been started on. Once that ADB service has been started, it will continue to listen to that specific port for commands that have been sent by the ADB client. It will then set up connections to all running devices which are attached to the computer (including emulators). This is the moment where you’ll receive the authorization request on the Android device if the computer hasn’t been authorized in the past.

Examples of ADB

As mentioned above, you can use ADB to do all sorts of things on an Android device. Some of these commands are built directly into the ADB binary and should work on all devices. You can also open up what is referred to as an ADB Shell and this will let you run commands directly on the device. The commands which are run directly on the device can vary from device to device (since OEMs can remove access to certain ones, and also modify adb behavior) and can vary from one version of Android to the next as well.

Below, you’ll find a list of example commands which you can do on your device…

  • Print a list of connected devices: adb devices
  • Kill the ADB server: adb kill-server
  • Install an application: adb install
  • Set up port forwarding: adb forward tcp:6100 tcp:7100
  • Copy a file/directory from the device: adb pull
  • Copy a file/directory to the device: adb push
  • Initiate an ADB shell: adb shell

How do I install ADB?

Phone Setup

  1. Launch the Settings application on your phone.
  2. Tap the About Phone option generally near the bottom of the list (this is hidden behind the “System” option in Google’s latest Android Oreo version).
  3. Then tap the Build Number option 7 times to enable Developer Mode. You will see a toast message when it is done.
  4. Now go back to the main Settings screen and you should see a new Developer Options menu you can access.
  5. Go in there and enable the USB Debugging option.
    install adb
  6. You are partially done with the phone setup process. Next up, you will need to scroll below and follow the rest of the instructions for your particular operating system.

Microsoft Windows ADB Setup

  1. Download the ADB ZIP file for Windows
  2. Extract the contents of this ZIP file into an easily accessible folder (such as C:\adb)
  3. Open Windows Explorer and browse to where you extracted the contents of this ZIP file
  4. Then open up a Command Prompt from the same directory as this ADB binary. This can be done by holding Shift and Right-clicking within the folder then click the “open command prompt here” option. (Some Windows 10 users may see “PowerShell” instead of “command prompt”.)install adb
  5. Connect your smartphone or tablet to your computer with a USB cable. Change the USB mode to “file transfer (MTP)” mode. Some OEMs may or may not require this, but it’s best to just leave it in this mode for general compatibility.
  6. In the Command Prompt window, enter the following command to launch the ADB daemon: adb devices
  7. On your phone’s screen, you should see a prompt to allow or deny USB Debugging access. Naturally, you will want to grant USB Debugging access when prompted (and tap the always allow check box if you never want to see that prompt again).install adb
  8. Finally, re-enter the command from step #6. If everything was successful, you should now see your device’s serial number in the command prompt. Yay! You can now run any ADB command on your device! Now go forth and start modding your phone by following our extensive list of tutorials!

How to Install ADB on macOS

  1. Download the ADB ZIP file for macOS
  2. Extract the ZIP to an easily accessible location (like the Desktop for example).
  3. Open Terminal.
  4. To browse to the folder you extracted ADB into, enter the following command: cd /path/to/extracted/folder/
  5. For example, on my Mac it was this:cd /Users/Doug/Desktop/platform-tools/
  6. Connect your device to your Mac with a compatible USB cable. Change the USB connection mode to “file transfer (MTP)” mode. This is not always required for every device, but it’s best to just leave it in this mode so you don’t run into any issues.
  7. Once the Terminal is in the same folder your ADB tools are in, you can execute the following command to launch the ADB daemon: adb devices
  8. On your device, you’ll see an “Allow USB debugging” prompt. Allow the connection.install adb
  9. Finally, re-enter the command from step #7. If everything was successful, you should now see your device’s serial number in macOS’s Terminal window. Congratulations! You can now run any ADB command on your device! Now go forth and start modding your phone by following our extensive list of tutorials!

How to Install ADB on Linux

  1. Download the ADB ZIP file for Linux
  2. Extract the ZIP to an easily accessible location (like the Desktop for example).
  3. Open a Terminal window.
  4. Enter the following command: cd /path/to/extracted/folder/
  5. This will change the directory to where you extracted the ADB files.
  6. So for example:cd /Users/Doug/Desktop/platform-tools/
  7. Connect your device to your Linux machine with your USB cable. Change the connection mode to “file transfer (MTP)” mode. This is not always necessary for every device, but it’s recommended so you don’t run into any issues.
  8. Once the Terminal is in the same folder your ADB tools are in, you can execute the following command to launch the ADB daemon: adb devices
  9. Back on your smartphone or tablet device, you’ll see a prompt asking you to allow USB debugging. Go ahead and grant it.install adb
  10. Finally, re-enter the command from step #8. If everything was successful, you should now see your device’s serial number in the Terminal window output. Congrats! You can now run any ADB command on your device! Now go forth and start modding your phone by following our extensive list of tutorials!

Some Linux users should be aware that there can be an easier way to install ADB on their computer. The guide above will certainly work for you, but those own a Debian or Fedora/SUSE-based distro of Linux can skip steps 1 and 2 of the guide above and use one of the following commands…

  • Debian-based Linux users can type the following command to install ADB: sudo apt-get install adb
  • Fedora/SUSE-based Linux users can type the following command to install ADB: sudo yum install android-tools

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