A lot of people have never heard of ADB and/or fastboot, but if you’ve tried to flash a ROM or root your Android phone, you probably know about these powerful tools. But until now they’ve been too complex for the most average user to install.
One thing that makes it even easier: Google has released fastboot and ADB as a standalone download, so downloading a big developer kit is no longer necessary. Goodbye to third-party services!
For those who don’t know, fastboot and ADB allow users to send terminal commands to their phones from any computer via USB. The two tools have different functions, and work together to get the job done:
Android Debug Bridge (ADB) allows you to send terminal commands, including basic Linux shell commands, to a phone. Just make sure debugging is enabled on the phone first. ADB is usually used in modifying or rooting a phone, you can end these terminal commands to unrooted devices too.
Fastboot helps to modify any phone’s firmware. Doing that allows the user to send the command to the bootloader. This is how you flash/modify custom recoveries and other function. It won’t help with your effort to flash whole ROMS, but it’s a crucial supplement to ADB. Check your phone though, because fastboot isn’t enabled for all phones.
Google’s download replaces the more cumbersome Android SDK. That collective package is called the Platform Tools package and can be downloaded in three configurations; for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
After downloading, open the .zip file to extract the contents and move them to a folder of your choice. This extra step of installation isn’t strictly necessary, as ADB or fastboot can be used without being installed, but it does make using them frequently a lot easier.
You can run any ADB or fastboot command from the Platform Tools package folder, or write out the full path for every command. It sounds complicated, but it’s a simple command which detects what device is attached to your system: ADB devices is the command if you’re in the Platform Tools package folder. Otherwise, the command would be c:\Android\platform-tools\adb.exe devices.
But that’s a lot of extra typing to do whenever you want to make some slight adjustment to your phone. But modifying the PATH variable enable the user to run fastboot and ADB commands from either folder.
The PATH variable is a list of command line tools in your computer. Adding fastboot and AD to that list makes it much more convenient to use them. There are different download protocol for the Windows and the Mac/Linux downloads:
These steps may vary depending on what version of Windows you’re using.
ADB to your PATH variable, click on:
1. Start menu: advanced system settings
2. View advanced system settings
3. Environment Variables
4. System Variables
Then, for Windows 7,8), click:
6. Add ;[FOLDERNAME] to the end of the “Variable value” box
7. Replace [FOLDERNAME] with the folder path where you extracted Platform Tools. Don’t forget the semicolon at the beginning, so Windows is clear that you’re adding a new folder.
For Windows 10 click:
9. Paste the folder path where you extracted the Platform Tools.
Hit Enter and click OK.
Whenever you wish to use fastboot or ADB, just open a command prompt from the Start Menu and enter the commands.
This process automatically adds the location of fastboot and ADB to your PATH whenever you log into your system. Just click:
1. Open up a Terminal window by navigating to Applications/Utilities: Spotlight: Terminal Window
2. To open up your Bash profile, enter: touch ~/.bash_profile; open ~/.bash_profile
3. Add to the end of the file: export PATH=”$HOME/[FOLDERNAME]/bin:$PATH” replacing [FOLDERNAME] with the location where you extracted fastboot and ADB.
4. Save the file
5. Cmd+Q to quit your text editor.
6. NOTE: to run your Bash profile for the first time, enter in your terminal enter source: ~/.bash_profile to run your Bash profile for the first time.
Now you can run ADB and fastboot commands whenever you open a Terminal window.