Android Basics: How to Install ADB & Fastboot on Mac, Linux & Windows

How to Install ADB & Fastboot on Mac, Linux & Windows

ADB and Fastboot are probably the most important tools for any Android aficionado. They can do everything from backing up your device and changing your screen resolution to rooting your phone and opening it up to hundreds of tweaks and customizations. What's even better is that they can be downloaded and installed on any of the three major computer operating systems in just a few clicks.

Step 1: Install ADB & Fastboot on Your Computer

There was a time when installing ADB and Fastboot on your computer required a bit of effort. It involved universal ADB drivers, installing the Android SDK, and often a little troubleshooting. Thankfully, Google has simplified things by releasing the official "SDK Platform Tools."

This standalone package gives you everything you need in an instant — no messy drivers to work with, and no fancy programs to install either. The process is quick, straightforward, and it comes from an official first-party source. Start by downloading the ZIP file for your respective operating system.

Next, go ahead and keep things simple by exacting the ZIP to your desktop for safekeeping. On most operating systems, you can do this by placing the ZIP on your desktop, right-clicking the file, then choosing "Extract Here" from the context menu.

If you'd rather keep your desktop clean, you can actually extract the ZIP anywhere. But know that you'll need to find the extracted ZIP's location anytime you want to run ADB or Fastboot commands in the future, so put it somewhere you won't forget.

The screenshot below gives you an excellent example of what your exacted folder should look like on Windows and what files it will contain as well.

Note: If you're a Windows user, there's a new requirement in place for the platform-tools package to work in the form of the Windows Universal C Runtime. It's usually installed on the system by default for Windows 10, but if you're running Windows 8.1 or 7 and having issues with this, you'll need to install all available Windows updates. Or if you'd like, you can fetch the download from the Microsoft Download Center and install it that way instead.

Step 2: Enable USB Debugging on Your Phone

Once you've extracted the SDK Platform Tools package, you'll be ready to send ADB and Fastboot commands. But to make sure you don't have any troubles in the future, there's one last step you should take.

First, make sure you have "USB debugging" enabled on your Android device. This setting can be found in the Developer options menu, which can be activated using these instructions. From there, simply connect your phone or tablet to your computer with a USB cable, then you should see the following prompt on your Android device. Tick the box next to "Always allow," then press "OK" on this prompt.

Step 3: Open a Command Window

Now that you've got the platform-tools folder extracted and USB debugging has been enabled on your phone, it's time to move onto the fun stuff! From within the newly installed platform-tools folder, this is where you'll be executing all ADB and Fastboot commands for your rooting and modding needs.

In short, you'll just need to open a command prompt or Terminal window on your computer, then change directories to the platform-tools folder you extracted in Step 1 using the "cd /Users/Desktop/platform-tools" format. If you need more help, check out the link below for a step-by-step guide on this part, then you can move on to the final step in this guide.

Image by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

Step 4: Verify Your Phone Connection

To make sure your computer and phone are able to talk to one another properly, you'll need to type the following command from the terminal and then hit the enter key:

fastboot devices

Note: Mac and Linux users will most likely have to add a period and a slash before entering any of the commands listed here (e.g., ./fastboot devices).

Your command window should still be active from the previous step, so running the above command should reveal a grouping of numbers and letters — this is the unique identifier for your device that has been recognized by the system.

How much you want to do next with this new information you gained from this guide is up to you. From here, you can now do such things as unlocking the bootloader on your phone, flashing a custom recovery, or even installing OTA update files manually.

I hope you found this helpful in your rooting and modding quest for knowledge! The number of uses and possibilities from running ADB and Fastboot commands is going to be something you'll be glad to have in your arsenal of Android tools. If you have any questions or run into issues of any kind, let me know in the comments section and I'll be more than happy to help you out. Enjoy!

Cover image by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks, screenshots by Stephen Perkins/Gadget Hacks

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15 Comments

tenia un problema de compatibilidad con adb, asi que use las urls que proporciona este blog y me descargo los archivos en la ruta usr/bin/adt y usr/bin/fastboot, y remplace en "folder personal"/Library/Android/sdk/platform-tools

¿Que pasa cuando pones una clave de adb?

I installed adb/fastboot for windows, but it still will not be recognized. i'm trying to get the GPe, and i was linked here from your other article on unlocking the bootloader

Did you install it system wide? Are you using a USB 2.0 port to connect your device?

The commands for Linux are needlessly complex. On Ubuntu, here's how you get ADB in one command line step. Better yet, it is kept up to date indefinitely, unlike the method shown above.

$ sudo apt-get install android-tools-adb

Boom. Done.

Andrew;

thank you much for a great article. I have a new Moto X Pure, and have tried installation w method 3 /mac. The script installed both adb and fastboot fine. But when I connected my phone, I initially got a "command not found" when I entered "oem...." . Then -- "device not found" error. I am a NOOB! Do I need to CD change directories? I have Yosemite, but also Avira Antivirus (why you ask? well, I actually WAS infected...)- I'll turn that off and see. Do I need to enter any other commands in fastboot? And I should preface everything w "fastboot..." , true?

What text should show on the phone? I have "device locked" which I am not sure what it refers to. The bootloader has not yet been unlocked; I'm installing adb etc. to unlock the bootloader etc. Is that what the text refers to? Do I need to be in any other mode than download mode? (my Moto X P) has several modes, it seems)

thanks much!
Dan

-------------------------------

oops, addendum. I have a Moto X Pure. turns out under developer options, I had to turn off "verify apps over USB". Then it worked fine; I used fastboot to get my unlock code for my phone. Thank you much!

Hi
have done all the above but when I run the command line in comes back with "device not detected"

could anybody help

PS
dony know if usb debugging has been activated on Sony Experia

I attempted method 3 but terminal is asking me for a sudo password but there is no mention in this post in regards to a password. I cannot type or paste anything.

Please assist.

If it's asking for a password, it will be your admin password on the computer. When you type it in, it will look like nothing is happening, but it is. Just type it out carefully and press enter.

Can't open command window someone please help what am I doing wrong?

The OEM unlock has to be ticked on in developer mode to use fast boot if it's disabled you'll never be able to get root on said device

I honestly don't know if anyone will read this but I am hoping so. I am trying to update my HTC Desire 530 from Verizon but I can;t get it to unlock!! Please help.

C:\Users\Owner\Downloads\platform-tools_r28.0.1-windows\platform-tools>fastboot
devices
HT67R0002270 fastboot

C:\Users\Owner\Downloads\platform-tools_r28.0.1-windows\platform-tools>fastboot
oem unlock
FAILED (remote: 'unknown command')
Finished. Total time: 0.009s

C:\Users\Owner\Downloads\platform-tools_r28.0.1-windows\platform-tools>fastboot
flashing unlock
FAILED (remote: 'unknown command')
Finished. Total time: 0.007s

I'm sorry, but it looks like your phone's bootloader can't be unlocked. Verizon double-locks the bootloader on their devices and there's no way around it.

The errors you're getting seem to back that up. The "remote: 'unknown command'" part is saying the other end of the connection (your phone, not your computer) is receiving the command, but saying "I don't have a command like that."

Under "Linux Installation Instructions", the link for the driver zip file appears to be broken - I get a not found error.

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