Top 20 ADB Commands Every Android User Should Know (PDF)

Android Debug Bridge or better known as ADB is a command line tool to access your Android Phone. It is a powerful and pretty versatile tool. You can do a range of things like pulling out logs, installing/uninstalling apps, transferring files, rooting and flashing custom ROMs, creating device backups, etc. Moreover, adb is a life-saver when your Android device gets bricked because the phone is unusable at that time.

Though the adb command shell looks intimidating and complex, it is fairly simple. So, here is a list of adb commands to get you started and do some useful things in the process.

Related: 4 Ways to Open Command Prompt Effectively

Install ADB on Windows

Unlike in previous versions, you don’t have to install complete Android SDK to install ADB. Simply download the standalone ADB zip file, extract it to a folder of your choice and you are done.

To access adb, open command prompt by searching it on the start menu. To run ADB commands, you need to navigate to the adb folder using the below command.

cd C:\ADB

Where in C:/ADB is the folder location of the extracted ADB file.

Tip: You can also open the Command Prompt from the same directory. Hold down your Shift key and Right-clicking within the folder then click the “open command prompt here” option

Now, connect your Android device via USB and you can proceed to test the below commands. For further reference, you can check this guide on how to properly install and test adb on Windows.

Related: 4 Ways to Turn Your Windows Computer into a WiFi Hotspot

Top 15 ADB Commands Every Android User Should Know

1. Start or Stop ADB Server

Obviously, the first command you should know is how to start and stop the adb server. This enables you to interact with your connected Android device. To start the adb server, use the below command.

adb start-server

adb-start-server

Once you are done with your work, you can use the command below to stop the adb server.

adb kill-server

adb-kill-server

2. Restart ADB in USB Mode

If the ADB server is already started and for some reason, the commands are still not working. You can try an ADB restart on the USB. There is no standalone ADB restart command. But the following command will reestablish the ADB connection via USB. This, in turn, will cause the ADB server to restart.

adb usb

adb-restart-usb

3. ADB Version

This is a very handy command because few commands work with the latest ADB versions. Like for example, the older versions of ADB don’t let you run flashall command. So, when you have a command in error, the first step is to check the adb version. You can then verify whether the command is supported in that version. Following is the command to check the adb version.

adb version

adb-version

4. List Connected Android Devices

This is one of the most famous commands. When you connect your device to the computer via USB, use this command to verify if adb can find the connected device.

adb devices

If your device is properly connected to your system, the above command will start the daemon service, scans the system and lists all the connected Android drives. The good thing about this command is that it lists both the state of the device and its serial number.

adb-device

5. Status of Your Device

As you can tell from the name itself, this command can be used to know the device state. When the command is executed, it shows whether your device state is in offline, bootloader or in device mode. For a normal Android device, you will see your Android state as “device”, just like in the below image.

adb get-state

adb-get-state

The connection state of the device can be one of the following:

  • offline: The device is not connected to adb or is not responding.
  • device: The device is now connected to the adb server.
  • no device: There is no device connected.

6. Get Device Serial Number

This command lets you know the device serial number of the connected device. On your phone or tablet, you can see the device serial number by navigating to “Settings > About Phone > Status”.

adb get-serialno

abd-get-serial-number

7. List Files

In order to copy or send files, you need to know the exact location of the directory. Normally, the phone internal memory is named as sdcard. So, all the phone internal folders are under the /sdcard directory. Still, if you want to know the exact location or locate a particular file, you can use the “ls” command. ls command lists out the files under the directory.

adb shell ls "directory_name"

Eg: adb shell ls /sdcard/Downloads

adb-shell-ls

8. Copy Files from Computer to Phone

If you want to copy files from your computer to phone using adb then you can use this command. Do forget to replace [source] and [destination] with actual file paths.

adb push [source] [destination]

Once you replace the above command with actual file paths, this is how it looks like.

adb push "E:\Video Songs\Aankhon Mein Teri - Om Shanti Om.mp4" "/sdcard/Downloads/video.mp4"

adb-push

9. Copy Files from Phone to Computer

Just like you can copy files from your computer to Android device, you can copy files from your phone to computer. To do that simply use the below command. Replace [source] and [destination] with actual file paths.

adb pull [source] [destination]

Once you replace the above command with actual file paths, this is how it looks like.

adb pull "/sdcard/Downloads/video.mp4" D:\Downloads

adb-pull

10. Install/Uninstall Apps

Besides from moving files back and forth, you can actually install apk files with just a single command. To install an app you have to specify the full path of the apk file. So, replace “path/to/file.apk” with the actual apk file path.

adb install "path/to/file.apk"

If you have multiple devices attached to your computer and only want to install the apk file on just one device then use the below command. Replace [serial-number] with the actual device serial number. You can get the device serial number using the fourth command above.

adb install "path/to/file.apk"

adb-install

To uninstall an app, simply execute the below command. Replace <package-name> with the actual fully qualified package name of the app.

adb uninstall <package-name>

adb-uninstall

11. List all Installed Packages

Now, uninstalling packages would require you to get the exact package name. The package name is actually different from the installed app name. So, to find that below is the adb command.

adb shell pm list packages

adb-list-package

Now the resulting output is pretty vast. So if you want to list a particular apk, you can try filtering by the app name. For example, I want to search the package name for FDroid, so I will use the following command.

adb shell pm list packages | findstr "fdroid"

abd-filter-packages

12. Backup Android Device

To backup all the device and app data you can use the below command. When executed, it will trigger the backup, asks you to accept the action on your Android device and then creates “backup.adb” file in the current directory.

adb backup -all

adb-device

13. Restore Android Device

To restore a backup, use the below command. Don’t forget to replace “path/to/backup.adb” with the actual file path.

adb restore "path/to/backup.adb"

adb-restore

14. Reboot Android Device into Recovery Mode

The recovery mode helps you repair or recovery the Android device using the tools built into it. Generally, you can boot into recovery mode using the volume and power button combination. Alternatively, you can also connect your device to the system and use the below command to boot into recovery mode.

adb reboot-recovery

adb-reboot-recovery

15. Reboot Android Device into Bootloader Mode

The below command lets you boot into bootloader mode. Generally, the bootloader mode is very similar to the fastboot mode.

adb reboot-bootloader

adb-reboot-bootloader

16. Reboot Android Device into Fastboot Mode

The fastboot mode is generally used to flash custom ROMs, bootloader, and even kernels. Use the below command to boot into fastboot mode.

adb reboot fastboot

adb-fastboot

17. List Connected Fastboot Devices

This is one of the lesser known commands. When you boot the device in fastboot mode, in order to check if the device is connected you can use the following command.

fastboot devices

fastboot-devices

18. Start Remote Shell

This command starts the remote shell and lets you control and configure your device using the shell commands.

adb shell

adb-shell

19. Take Screenshots

It is nothing hard to take a screenshot on and Android. All you have to do is press the Power button and Volume Down button at the same time. Alternatively, you can also use this command to take a quick screenshot. Replace “/path/to/screenshot.png” with the actual destination path. If you want to, you can customize the file name by changing “screenshot” with whatever name you want.

adb shell screencap -p "/path/to/screenshot.png"

Once you replace the destination path, this is how the command looks like.

adb shell screencap -p "/sdcard/screenshot.png"

20. Record Android Screen

Apart from screenshots, you can record the Android device screen using the below command. Again, replace “/path/to/record.mp4” with the actual destination path. Of course, you can customize the file name by changing “record” with whatever name you want.

adb shell screenrecord "/path/to/record.mp4"

That’s all for now. Comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using the above adb commands on your Android device.

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About Vamsi Krishna

Vamsi is a tech geek who enjoys writing how-to guides and tinkering with computers and software in general. He especially loves using Windows and writing about it. You can check out his Windows guides at WindowsLoop.