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Nexus phones have always been a popular choice among Android enthusiasts for the ease with which they can be rooted and modded What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo Ever had a question about your Android device, but the answer had a bunch of words in it that you didn't understand? Let us break down the confusing Android lingo for you. Read More .

This is still true of the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, especially thanks to a new systemless root process from renowned developer Chainfire. Systemless root is cleaner and less invasive, makes unrooting or installing OS updates easier, and is even reported to not break security-reliant services How To Trick Apps Into Thinking Your Android Is Not Rooted How To Trick Apps Into Thinking Your Android Is Not Rooted You're the kind of person who roots your Android device and refuses to let others tell you what you can and cannot do with it, so run the apps you want with no restrictions. Read More like Android Pay.

It’s a relatively straightforward process and works on Windows, Mac and Linux. But, as always, you should back up everything Here's A Free, Multi-Layered Plan To Back Up A Non-Rooted Android Here's A Free, Multi-Layered Plan To Back Up A Non-Rooted Android Even with a non-rooted Android device, you can have a solid backup plan – and it doesn't have to cost you a dime! Read More before you begin, just in case.

Let’s get started.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

When Android 6.0 Marshmallow was first launched Android 6.0 Marshmallow: What It Is and When You'll Get It Android 6.0 Marshmallow: What It Is and When You'll Get It Android Marshmallow is here -- but why should you care? Read More , it was a little more difficult to root than previous versions and required you to flash a modified boot image to your phone. This is no longer the case, and rooting has now been streamlined into a two-step process.

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Ironically, it does mean that the preliminary steps before you root are now the most complicated parts. These steps are:

  • Download and setup Fastboot
  • Install Windows drivers
  • Unlock your phone’s bootloader

If you have rooted an Android phone before — a Nexus phone in particular — then you might be able to skip these steps. You might already have Fastboot on your PC and be familiar with how it works.

And you might have pre-emptively unlocked your phone’s bootloader. You will have saved yourself a lot of hassle if you have, as unlocking the bootloader wipes your phone, including the internal storage.

But assuming you’ve done neither of these, here’s what you need to know.

Step 1: Download Fastboot

Fastboot is a small utility New To Android Debug Bridge? How To Make The Process Simple And Easy New To Android Debug Bridge? How To Make The Process Simple And Easy ADB is incredibly useful for sending commands to your Android device from your computer. For the beginners out there, here's a dead simple way to use ADB. Read More that enables your PC to communicate with your phone over USB when the phone isn’t booted into Android. It is a part of the Android SDK.

download sdk tools

Go to the Android developer website and download SDK Tools for Windows (choose the zip version), Mac, or Linux.

  • On Windows, unpack the zip file and launch SDK Manager.exe. When the Android SDK Manager opens, select the Android SDK Platform-tools option and click Install

download platform-tools

  • On Mac and Linux, unpack the download and navigate to the tools folder within it. Double click the android file to launch the Android SDK Manager. Now select the Android SDK Platform-tools option and click Install

Once the download has finished, you’ll find a new platform-tools folder has appeared within your downloaded SDK folder. This contains Fastboot.

Fastboot is a command line tool, which means it is controlled via the command line on Windows Console Lets You Work In Windows Command Line Mode With Style Console Lets You Work In Windows Command Line Mode With Style When it comes to the command line, it seems that Linux and Mac OS users get all the fun. They have fantastic shell environments, but more importantly, they have a very slick console application to... Read More , or the Terminal app on Mac and Linux.

This can be intimidating if you haven’t used it before, but really, you just need to check for typos when copying the commands from this guide. Also, note that Mac and Linux commands are preceded by ./ (dot slash), and that this isn’t used on Windows.

Step 2: Get the Windows Drivers

There’s an extra step you need to perform if you’re using Windows, which is to install the drivers for your phone. You can download and install this from the Android developer website.

Step 3: Unlock the Bootloader

To make any changes to your phone’s system, it needs to have an unlocked bootloader.

To unlock the bootloader on your Nexus, you first need to enable it in the Developer options in Android. These are hidden by default. To make them appear go to Settings > About phone and scroll to the bottom of the screen. Now tap Build number seven times.

allow unlocking

Hit the back button and you’ll see that the Developer options have now appeared. Tap on this and enable the options labelled OEM unlocking and USB debugging.

Now’s the time to check that you have backed up all of your data 3 Great Ways to Automatically Backup and Sync Your Data on Android 3 Great Ways to Automatically Backup and Sync Your Data on Android Don't lose your data! Make sure you're keeping it all backed up. For that, let us help you out. Read More . And make sure you store your backups on your PC or in the cloud, not on the device. Completing the rest of this step will wipe your phone, including the internal storage.

You can now power down your phone.

bootloader

Next, connect it to your PC with a USB cable, then boot into the bootloader (also referred to as Fastboot mode) by holding down the power and volume down keys at the same time.

First, we need to check that the phone and PC are communicating with each other.

cd

On your computer, open the command line or terminal and type cd[space] then drag the platform-tools folder onto the command prompt. Hit Enter.

(This changes the directory the command line is looking at to the one where Fastboot is stored. Without this step, you’d need to type the full path to the Fastboot app every time.)

  • On Windows, type fastboot devices and hit Enter
  • On Mac or Linux, type ./fastboot devices and hit Enter

You should see a list of the devices connected to your PC. There’ll only be one, and it will be indicated by a serial number. This means all is good.

oem unlock

To unlock the bootloader, go to the command line or terminal.

  • On Windows, type fastboot oem unlock and hit Enter
  • On Mac or Linux, type ./fastboot oem unlock and hit Enter

It only takes a second to complete. When you boot your phone now, you’ll see a brief warning about the phone being unable to check for corruption, which you can ignore. When the Google logo appears on screen, there will be an unlocked padlock icon beneath it.

warning

You’re now ready to root your Nexus.

Root Your Nexus

Now that you’ve got everything else set up, rooting your Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P is a simple process. It involves downloading and flashing two files.

Step 4: Download the Files

The files you need are TWRP (a custom recovery What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo What Is Rooting? What Are Custom ROMs? Learn Android Lingo Ever had a question about your Android device, but the answer had a bunch of words in it that you didn't understand? Let us break down the confusing Android lingo for you. Read More ) and SuperSU (the app that roots the phone). You need to download the correct version for your phone.

supersu

For the Nexus 6P:

For the Nexus 5X:

The version numbers will change in the future as the apps are updated. It’s a good idea to use the latest version available, and SuperSU versions prior to 2.60 won’t work with the instructions below. We’ve tested this rooting process with Android 6.0 and 6.0.1.

Step 5: Move the Files to the Right Location

Copy the TWRP image file into the platform-tools folder on your computer where the Fastboot app is also stored.

move files

Copy the SuperSU zip file into the internal storage of your Android phone.

Step 6: Flash TWRP

The first step in rooting is to flash a custom recovery. This is the TWRP file that you downloaded.

A custom recovery is a small piece of software that enables you to carry out diagnostic and maintenance tasks on your phone without booting into Android. It’s essential for all Android hacks, including rooting, and flashing custom ROMs 6 Reasons You Need to Be Using a Custom ROM 6 Reasons You Need to Be Using a Custom ROM Custom ROMs are the best thing about having an Android phone! Don't miss out! Read More .

Boot your phone into Fastboot mode by holding down the power and volume down keys together. Connect your phone to your PC with a USB cable.

Go to the command line or terminal on your PC and use the cd command to change the directory to point to the platform-tools folder, as we did when unlocking the bootloader.

flash recovery

  • On Windows, type fastboot flash recovery [twrp-filename].img and hit Enter
  • On Mac or Linux, type ./fastboot flash recovery [twrp-filename]twrp.img and hit Enter

Wait a couple of seconds for the job to finish. You’ll now be able to boot into TWRP.

Step 7: Flash SuperSU

The next step is to flash the SuperSU zip file, which should be stored on your phone. This patches the boot image, roots the phone, and installs the SuperSU app that you can use to manage root access within Android.

boot to recovery

To boot into TWRP from Fastboot mode, press the volume down button twice so that Recovery Mode appears on screen. Then tap the power button.

TWRP will now load. Tap Install, and locate the SuperSU zip file you copied to your phone’s storage. Tap the file to select it.

flash supersu

To root your phone, swipe your finger along the slider labelled Swipe to confirm Flash.

Keep an eye on the screen for any additional instructions, although there shouldn’t be any. Wait until the process is fully completed, then you can reboot your phone.

Your Nexus is now rooted.

And You’re Done!

Once you reboot your phone, you should see that the SuperSU app has been installed. If you want to check that rooting worked, you can download an app like Root Check from the Play Store.

Alternatively, just dive straight in with some of the best root apps, like Greenify for longer battery life Get Amazing Battery Life on Android 6.0 with a Root Tweak Get Amazing Battery Life on Android 6.0 with a Root Tweak Doze is Android Marshmallow's best under-the-hood feature, and it can be tweaked if you have root access. Read More , or Xposed for a huge range GravityBox Vs XBlast: Which Is The Best All-Purpose Xposed Module? GravityBox Vs XBlast: Which Is The Best All-Purpose Xposed Module? Out of the two great all-purpose Xposed modules for customizing your rooted Android device, which is the best? Read More of tweaks and mods.

Have you rooted your Nexus? What are your favorite root apps? Did you have any problems? Let us know in the comments below.

  1. Kolahzary
    October 24, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    it worked for me :) thanks MUO :)

  2. a343478
    August 12, 2016 at 6:08 pm

    the first time I tried rooting my nexus 6p was a disaster.
    then I found this tutorial which is so well written
    It gave me confidence to try again.
    this time all went well.
    thanks for an excellent tutorial.

  3. Callum Pevere
    August 1, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    Installed TWRP and booted it up, after forgetting to put the SuperSU zip on the phone, tried to reboot it to put it on, and now I'm stuck in a bootloop of the starting animation. I don't have Adb or Fastboot access, nor on phone storage access. Any ideas on how I can at least get the phone out of bootloop? Thanks.

  4. Dylan Deliso Gagne
    May 10, 2016 at 5:51 am

    I forgot to turn on the USB Debug, how do i go back or continue? i'm screwed

    • Sal Paradise
      September 1, 2016 at 3:59 am

      Settings > USB Debugging.
      Don't forget to turn on the other thing.

  5. Michelle
    May 6, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    A direct quote:
    "When Android 6.0 Marshmallow was first launched, it was a little more difficult to root than previous versions and required you to flash a modified boot image to your phone. This is no longer the case, and rooting has now been streamlined into a two-step process."

    Then the rest of your article proceeds to follow the process that you JUST SAID IS NO LONGER THE CASE. And your "two step process" is outlined by you in seven steps, including flashing a boot image, which you JUST SAID YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYMORE.

    So... how long have you been speaking English? Or did a bot write this article?

  6. abbie
    April 23, 2016 at 3:37 am

    the phone and pc arent communcating with each other. it doesnt work. what do i do?

    • John Ponder
      October 21, 2016 at 3:06 am

      Abbie, did you ever get your issue figured out? I am experiencing the same.

  7. roi
    March 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

    I did everything and rebooted my device... it's stuck on the 4 moving circles screen... anyone?

  8. Andrew
    February 24, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    Any idea how decrypting fits into this?

    • Andy Betts
      February 26, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      It's not an issue. TWRP works on encrypted devices, so there's no need to decrypt before rooting. If the phone was encrypted before, it'll still be encrypted after.

      If you want an unencrypted phone, then flashing a ROM is probably the best way to go. It'll wipe your data as well.

  9. James
    December 31, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    How do I get the SuperSU .zip file into 5X ROM after I have unlocked the fastboot OEM.

    There is no SD card for 5X and tranferring via PC does not work when you power up or power up in fastboot and ROM phone is wiped.

    • Ken
      January 8, 2016 at 10:54 am

      yeah, the problem with sites like this is they throw a phone at one of their writers and get them to manipulate a post. fact is this author couldn't give a damn about rooting probably and they just wanted the Google traffic that comes along with creating this post. Anyway, it's the internal storage SD card you need to put the SuperSU on. And it's the root of the SD card too. Root meaning the topmost folder and not in a sub folder. yeah you're welcome. I'll just keep writing my rooting guides back on page 3 of Google while pieces of cow dung like this sit on page one.

      • Jon Davies
        March 15, 2016 at 11:01 pm

        Hi Ken,
        Well, this process didnt work for me. can you point me at your howto? It sounds like you have a handle on this moving target!
        Fyi, I have enabled developer mode on the 6P
        I can use fastboot to show devices
        and this is what I get when I follow the instructions (I sudoed su to make sure root wasnt required, same results without the sudu):
        sh-3.2# ./fastboot oem unlock
        ...
        FAILED (remote: unknown command)
        finished. total time: 0.003s
        sh-3.2# ./fastboot flashing unlock
        ...
        FAILED (remote: oem unlock is not allowed)
        finished. total time: 0.012s
        sh-3.2#

        On the 6P the second last line says:
        "Download Mode: DISABLED

        Connect USB Data Cable"

        that's where I gave up until I can get more info...

        • Andy Betts
          March 17, 2016 at 1:40 pm

          Do you enable OEM unlocking and USB debugging in the Developer options?

    • David
      February 25, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      after you boot into the new recovery mode.... use adb supersu.zip /

    • Joshua Bowman
      April 29, 2016 at 12:20 am

      Hi James, the missed step is that after unlocking the bootloader, you have to reboot, go back to developer options, and you need to switch it into PTP mode instead of the default MTP. Once in that mode you can transfer files to your Pictures folder easily, boot into recovery mode, and find them from TWRP. All other locations gave me a "cannot transfer" error when I tried.

    • Ben Sullins
      May 7, 2016 at 3:12 am

      I ended up having to use adb to push the file to the devices. On a mac running El Capitan

      1. Boot the device > go into developer settings > enable usb debugging
      2. Terminal on Mac > /platform-tools/ > ./adb push /sdcard/
      3. Continue following the steps

      1 thing I did encounter, that wasn't expected, as that it wiped my device completely so be careful!

  10. Akien Maciain
    December 25, 2015 at 1:01 am

    oem unlock did not work for me, but flashing unlock did.

    I am left wondering though, once I've flashed it, can I lock the bootloader again to get away from some of those boot messages?

  11. Magnus
    December 23, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    No. “fastboot oem unlock” does not work on version 6.0.1. The new command is "fastboot flashing unlock". Please update the article.

  12. Andi Taylor
    December 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    The command for unlocking the bootloader has changed with Marshmallow, it's no longer "fastboot oem unlock" but is in fact "fastboot flashing unlock".

    • Andy Betts
      December 21, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      oem unlock still works; it's what I used.

      • David
        February 25, 2016 at 8:32 pm

        for me too

        • Jon Davies
          March 15, 2016 at 10:50 pm

          neither OEM unlock nor flashing unlock are working for me.ons-Mac-mini:platform-tools jondavies$ ./fastboot flashing unlock
          ...
          sh-3.2# ./fastboot oem unlock
          ...
          FAILED (remote: unknown command)
          finished. total time: 0.003s
          sh-3.2# ./fastboot flashing unlock
          ...
          FAILED (remote: oem unlock is not allowed)
          finished. total time: 0.012s
          sh-3.2#

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