Android ADB, what it is, how to install and how to use it

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Valery Aloyants
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ADB, Fastboot, Root, Recovery, do these things still exist? A few years ago, in times when manufacturers' ROMs came to imply real problems with performance, it was much more frequent to resort to these tools. With the passage of time, the new versions of Android and the stability of the levels of customization, each time it becomes less necessary.

Install ADB and Fastboot quickly with Minimal Tool on Windows PC

Be that as it may, there are tools that are still worth knowing and that can open up a world of options and customizations beyond what Android allows us when we don't go beyond the settings menus. 

In this article we will talk about ADB, a tool that will allow us to grant certain permissions for applications, activate hidden options or upload files without the need to make radical or deep changes.

ADB Android what it is

ADB stands for the acronym Android Debug Bridge. As the name suggests, it is a tool through which the command console of our PC will connect between this and the phone. Thanks to it, we can send orders to your smartphone, as well as upload files between platforms. To start working with ADB you need to enable USB Debugging. Go to Settings and About phone. Find the build number by clicking on it seven times. Once this is done you will see the development options, where they are located in USB Debugging.

What is it and how to activate USB Debugging

As anticipated, ADB requires a terminal or command console to function. If you are using Windows, you will need to install the universal ADB drivers. Once installed, by typing CMD in the Windows search engine, you access the command window.

If you are using MacOS, open a terminal. To do this, click on the magnifying glass icon and type terminal. Once opened, copy this command, it will download the necessary drivers:

bash <(curl -s

Read here: Android ADB and Fastboot drivers, how to install them

Main commands

There are several basic commands for ADB, through which we will execute simple commands. If we know some English, we will appreciate that the controls are quite intuitive, and if that's not the case, just have this list at your fingertips.

  • ADB device: shows whether or not there are devices connected by ABD
  • ADB Push: send a file from our PC to our device. Just write the command and paste the file into the terminal.
  • ADB Pull: send a file from our smartphone to the PC. Same operation as ADB Push.
  • ADB Install: Install an APK file.
  • ADB Unistallguess what? allows you to uninstall an APK file.
  • ADB Shell: Control the device in text mode. Later we will see its usefulness, but in short, it allows you to operate with the Android code and applications to modify it at will.
  • ADB Reboot: force restart in normal mode.
  • ADB Reboot bootloader: Reboot the device in bootloader mode.
  • ADB Reboot recovery: Reboot the device in recovery mode.

The best browsers for Android

Returning to the real world

Well, we already know what ADB is and a good list of commands to start working with but… why can it help you in real situations?

First, we will start sending files from the PC to the mobile phone. In general, our PC usually recognizes the device and, without further problems, we can exchange files.

However, sometimes due to some proprietary driver issues, it is not possible to connect the PC to the mobile phone in the normal way. In these cases, ADB can be a solution.

As we have indicated, there would be more to use the ADB Push command and load the path of the file we want to copy. An example of its use would be the following.

c:foldertutorialadb.pdf /sdcard/downloads

In this way, we will send a file from our folder to our smartphone. Otherwise, we would use ADB Pull, as in the following example.

adb pull /sdcard/downloads/tutorialadb.pdf c:usuarioescritoriocarpeta

In this case, we send a file from the smartphone to the hard drive c.

Some manufacturers, such as OnePlus, upload their ROM files so that users can install them. There is always the option to install a ROM from the terminal settings, but a side load (from PC to mobile) does will always result in a cleaner installation. To do this, we will use the ADB Sideload command, and then we will load the ROM file. Eg:

adb sideload

Some applications provide functions of other devices to our terminal, such as OnePlus gestures. This app allows you to bring OnePlus gestures (very similar to those of the iPhone) to any Android device. However, if we have a navigation bar this can be a problem, and not all Android terminals allow you to hide it.

Do you remember we talked to ABD Shell earlier about ordering the system? A good example would be the following command.

adb Shell pm Grant com.nombrede.laaplicacion android.permission.WRITE.SECURE_SETTINGS

Through this command, we are telling Android that this application has permission to hide, for example, the navigation bar.

Through ADB Shell we can also give order to the system so that it changes some aspects such as, for example, its themes. In Google Pixel with Android Q, the adb shell settings set secure ui night mode 2 command tells the phone to go into dark mode, something that cannot be activated from the settings.

Another use of ADB Shell? Imagine that you have broken a terminal button and are unable to create a screenshot. These three commands allow you to create one and store it wherever you want .

adb shell screencap -p /sdcard/screenshot.png

adb pull /sdcard/screenshot.png

adb shell rm /sdcard/screenshot.png

These are some examples of what we can do with ADB, but let's recap so you get out of here with a clear idea. The function of ADB is to give orders between PC and telephone, giving us deeper access, not dependent on the latter's settings menu.

We can perform basic functions such as uploading files, installing applications, updates or resetting the phone, but we can tell the system to change their behavior, changing the subject, giving extra applications… permissions in short, one more capable tool that we recommend you take a look at.

ADB & Fastboot and the most common mistakes

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