How to install ADB and fastboot on your computer

If you want to root your Android smartphone, unlock its bootloader, flash a custom recovery or perform any other advanced action, you’ll need to have ADB and fastboot drivers installed in your computer. ADB, which stands for Android Debugging Bridge, serves as a communication tool between your smartphone and computer. When you connect your smartphone in bootloader mode to the computer via USB cable, it’s ADB which tells the smartphone what to do and what not to do.

Fastboot, on the other hand, allows your computer to modify the file system of the smartphone over a USB connection. Both of these things are necessary before your computer can communicate with your smartphone to perform any of the system-level operations. So, it’s about time to talk about how to install ADB and Fastboot drivers on your computer. Let’s get started.

Install ADB and Fastboot drivers on Windows

If you’re on Windows 10, there’s a very good chance that you won’t have to install ADB drivers on your computer. That is because Windows 10 itself comes with the necessary drivers to recognize ADB interface. So, you can simply turn on your smartphone in fastboot mode and connect it to PC via USB cable, and the ADB interface will be recognized.

However, if your computer uses anything earlier than Windows 10, or if it doesn’t recognize the ADB interface despite running Windows 10, then you will have to install the drivers manually. The process to do so is given below:

  • Download the Universal ADB driver installer (9.2 MB) from here.
  • Extract the ZIP file, select the .exe file inside the extracted folder and hit Enter key on the keyboard. Confirm the warning related to user access controls if it appears.
  • Next, enable USB debugging on your phone. Navigate to Settings >> About phone and tap the build number 7 times. This will enable the Developer Options on your phone, and the new menu of those options will start appearing in Settings. Go into that menu and enable USB debugging from the top bar.
  • Now connect your phone to the computer via USB cable and click Refresh in ADB driver installer. Your device will start appearing in the ADB installer dialog box. Something like this:
ADB Installer

The device appearing in ADB Installer

  • If it doesn’t appear then try changing the connection mode of your device to Charge only, MTP or PTP. Pull down the notification tray of your phone and tap the notification of USB connection to change connection mode. Some devices are designed to work with PCs only in a certain mode, so this is normal. Just switch between each of these modes and keep refreshing the installer.
  • When Installer has recognized your device, click the Install button.
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Install ADB Tools

Installing ADB drivers is not enough. You’ll need Android SDK Tools to use your ADB drivers. Follow the steps given below to install them:

  • Head over to Android Studio website and scroll down until you see the ‘Command line tools only’ section. From there, download the Windows version of SDK tools.

Android SDK tools for Windows

  • Extract the downloaded ZIP archive and navigate to the extracted folder. Execute the SDK Manager executable (exe) file located in it. Wait for 10 seconds until a window like the one shown below doesn’t appear.

Installing Android SDK tools

  • Since we won’t be programming any android apps, we can remove the whole lot of checkmarks in this Window. We just need to install the Android SDK Platform Tools, so besides this checkbox, we can uncheck pretty much everything else. Once you’ve unchecked them hit Install.
  • Next, open the platform-tools folder from the directory that you extracted recently. Inside it hold Shift key of your keyboard and right-click anywhere in the white space. In the menu that appears, right-click and choose Open a command window here.
  • Now connect your smartphone to the PC, enable USB debugging and type the following command in the command window:

    adb devices

  • You’ll see a warning message on your phone, something like the screenshot given below. Simply click OK.

USB debug warning

  • Shortly after this, your device will start appearing in the command window. This shows that you’ve successfully installed the necessary ADB tools on your computer.

Install ADB and fastboot on Linux/Mac

Life is much easier on Unix based operating systems (i.e. Linux/Mac). First of all, you don’t need the drivers. Secondly, the ADB tools can be kept updated with package management systems. For example, Mac users can download and install Homebrew package manager and then run the brew install android platform-tools command in a Terminal window. Linux users, on the other hand, can look up for android-platform-tools in package system and install the tools from there. That’s it.

That’s how you can install ADB and fastboot on your computer. Now that you’ve installed both fastboot and ADB, you can perform any system level operations related to Android through your computer.

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