Android has a lot of nifty hidden options and one of them is ‘USB Debugging’. It is required to be turned on in order to establish a successful connection between your PC and your Android device over ADB (Android Debug Bridge). Here, you will learn how to enable USB Debugging on any Android device easily in a step-by-step manner.
Here on our blog, we cover a lot of tutorials where we might often ask you to enable USB Debugging on your Android device first. The process is short and it feels redundant to mention the steps every time in every tutorial it is required. Thus, I thought creating a separate tutorial for it would be a good idea. Not only will it help you turn ON USB Debugging on your phone, but will also allow you to learn about what it actually is.
What is USB Debugging in Android?
‘USB Debugging‘ is a developer option in Android that must be enabled to establish a successful ADB connection between a PC and an Android device. It is generally hidden within the Android device’s settings menu and is disabled by default.
So, what would you actually want to enable USB Debugging on your Android device? First off, ADB won’t be able to recognize your phone if the option is disabled. Once enabled, it allows you to execute ADB commands to perform several procedures, like debugging an app, capture bug reports to provide feedback to developers (logcat), force-reboot your Android device into recovery mode/fastboot mode, etc.
So, there are a lot of scenarios where you’d need to enable USB Debugging.
Now if you want to do it, then simply follow the easy instructions below. This guide supports any device, irrespective of the OEM, running the following Android OS versions:
- Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0)
- Jelly Bean (4.1, 4.2, 4.3)
- KitKat (4.4)
- Lollipop (5.0, 5.1)
- Marshmallow (6.0)
- Nougat (7.0, 7.1)
- Oreo (8.0, 8.1)
- Pie (9.0)
An Important Clarification First!
I and so, many users have seen a lot of online resources claiming that USB Debugging must be enabled in order to flash firmware (Stock or custom ROMs) and custom recoveries on Android devices. I say NO! Why? Read ahead.
USB Debugging is only required to establish a successful ADB connection between your PC and your Android device, while it is booted into the system (OS). Outside that, be it in recovery mode or fastboot/bootloader mode, USB Debugging doesn’t serve any purpose.
So, if you’re trying to sideload OTA updates using ADB then there’s no need to enable the said option.
So the next time someone mentions or claims that USB Debugging is required to flash a factory image or stock firmware via Odin, then you’ll know that’s incorrect and you wouldn’t wander off in the wrong direction.
If you still don’t believe me, try it for yourself.
How to Enable USB Debugging on Android?
Like I mentioned earlier, USB Debugging resides inside the ‘Developer options’ menu. This menu is hidden on all Android devices by default, to prevent accidental access. First, you will need to enable/unhide Developer Options in the device settings and then finally enable the USB Debugging option within it.
To make the instructions simpler to understand, I have split them into two major steps.
Step 1: Enable Developer Options in Settings
- Go to the ‘Settings‘ menu on your Android device.
- Scroll through the settings and tap on ‘About phone‘.
- Find the ‘Build number‘ section in the ‘About phone’ menu.
- Now, continuously tap on the build number section for five (5) times to enable Developer Options.
- Enter the lock screen PIN, Password, or Pattern when prompted.
- You should now see a confirmation message like ‘You’re now a developer!‘, ‘Developer mode has been enabled.‘ or a similar message on the phone’s screen.
Note: In case of certain OEM devices, the Build Number section would be nested in another sub-menu. For example: In the case of Samsung Galaxy devices, you will find the ‘Build number’ section in Settings > About phone > Software information.
Now that Developer Options are available, follow the next step to finally enable USB Debugging on your Android device.
Step 2: Enable USB Debugging on your Android device
- Go to the ‘Settings‘ menu on your Android device.
- Select ‘System‘ and tap on ‘Advanced‘ (Only on Android 8.0 and above).
- Now tap on ‘Developer options‘.
- Scroll down to the ‘Debugging‘ section.
- Turn ON the ‘USB debugging‘ toggle.
- You should now see a confirmation prompt on the screen.
- Finally, tap on ‘OK‘ to confirm and enable USB Debugging on your Android device.
Note: In the case of Samsung Galaxy or certain other OEM devices, you will simply need to go to Settings > Developer options.
This is it! With the option now enabled, you can now go ahead, connect your phone to the PC and use the desired ADB commands.
Some commonly used ADB commands
Before you head off, you can check some of the most common ADB commands mentioned below that you might need and use from time-to-time.
|adb devices||List all the devices currently communicating with the PC over ADB.||N/A|
|adb version||Check the ADB version currently installed and being used on the PC.|
Also check the location where the ADB.exe binary is installed.
|adb kill-server||Kill the adb server process.|
Helps resolve adb connection issues.
|adb sideload ||Sideload an OTA update package to the device.||adb sideload ota-update.zip|
|adb reboot||Remotely reboot the device.||N/A|
|adb reboot-bootloader||Remotely reboot the device directly into Bootloader/Fastboot Mode||N/A|
|adb reboot-recovery||Remotely reboot the device into Android recovery mode.||N/A|
|adb shell screencap ||Take a screenshot of the current device display.||adb shell screencap /sdcard/screenshot.png|
|adb install ||Push an app package to the device and install it.||adb install com.google.android.apps.photos.apk|
|adb uninstall ||Uninstall an app package from the device and clear its data and cache.||adb uninstall com.google.android.apps.photos.apk|
|adb push ||Push/Transfer a file or a folder from the PC to a specific directory on the device's storage||adb push c:\test.apk /sdcard|
|adb pull ||Pull/Transfer a file or folder from the device back to the PC.||adb pull /sdcard/test.apk c:\|
|adb bugreport ||Take a bugreport of the device and transfer it to a specified directory on the PC.||adb bugreport c:\mybugreports|
|adb logcat -v long > logcat-filename.txt||Take the log data and print it on the screen.||adb logcat -v long > logcat.txt|
|adb help||Display the complete list of ADB commands available for use.||N/A|
This post is part of the ‘Android 101’ series that covers tips on performing the basic operations on Android devices. Don’t forget to check out some other articles of this series:
- Backup Android Device Completely (Root & No-root)
- Enable OEM Unlocking on Android [OEM Unlock]
- Install Android SDK Platform-tools on Windows, Linux, and macOS
So, this was our tutorial on how to enable USB Debugging on any Android device. If you have questions, you can simply leave a comment below.