Install ADB on Windows, macOS, and Linux

There will be a lot of guides on Droid Tools about how to access certain features of the Android platform that simply are not visible to the user. 

Theese will be done generally with the help of some command line Android Debug Bridge (ADB) commands, a tool that Google offers for developers to debug various parts of their applications or the system, but which we can use for all kinds of neat and hidden tricks. Using the command line isn’t something that everyone is comfortable with, though, so in an attempt to teach everyone how to do these tweaks (no matter what skill level you’re at), we have been including some basic steps about how to install ADB in each of our tutorials where necessary.

Setup the Android Debug Bridge (ADB)

Phone Setup

  • Launch the Settings application on your phone.
  • 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).
  • Then tap the Build Number option 7 times to enable Developer Mode. You will see a toast message when it is done.
  • Now go back to the main Settings screen and you should see a new Developer Options menu you can access.
  • Go in there and enable the USB Debugging mode option.
enable usb debugging

Next up, you will need to scroll below and follow the rest of the instructions for your operating system.

Windows 10 ADB Setup

  • Download the ADB ZIP file for Windows
  • Extract the contents of this ZIP file into an easily accessible folder (such as C:\adb)
  • Open Windows explorer and browse to where you extracted the contents of this ZIP file
  • 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”.)
windows 10 adb setup
Windows ADB folder
  • 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.
  • In the Command Prompt window, enter the following command to launch the ADB daemon: adb devices
  • 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).
allow usb debugging

Finally, re-enter the command adb devices. If everything was successful, you should now see your device’s serial number in the command prompt. 

Install ADB on macOS

  • Download the ADB ZIP file for macOS
  • Extract the ZIP to an easily-accessible location (like the Desktop for example).
  • Open Terminal.
  • To browse to the folder you extracted ADB into, enter the following command: cd /path/to/extracted/folder/
  • For example, on my Mac it was this:cd /Users/Doug/Desktop/platform-tools/
  • 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.
  • 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
  • On your device, you’ll see an “Allow USB debugging” prompt. Allow the connection.
allow usb debugging
  • Finally, re-enter the command adb devices. 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!

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/USER/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.
  10. Finally, re-enter the command adb devices. 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!
allow usb debugging linux android

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