If you have any interest in Android, it’s likely that you’ve come across the term “ADB” in forums or articles. ADB stands for Android Debug Bridge, and it comes with the Android Developer SDK, which is a set of tools developers use to tinker with Android. It allows the user to send commands to their Android device from their PC.
However, using ADB isn’t just for professional developers. It is an incredibly useful feature of Android that even novices can use. You don’t even need to be rooted to take advantage of most of its benefits.
So if you’re just getting started with ADB, let’s step through some of the ways in which it could be useful, and then we’ll look at an awesome tool that greatly simplifies the ADB process.
Why Should I Use ADB?
If you plan on rooting your device, using ADB is a must. In the case of accidental bricking (“bricking” your Android device means that the software is rendered unusable), it allows you to restore the device in an instant, as well as push files to and from the device, reboot it, install and uninstall apps, create backups, and more.
You may be familiar with OTA (Over The Air) updates for your Android device. Nexus devices receive them pretty often, but they’re usually released in a tiered system so that some users won’t get it until weeks after others. If you want updates ASAP, you’ll want to flash any updates to your device using ADB – like the latest Lollipop 5.0 update, for instance.
XDA user Lars124 has created a handy utility that greatly simplifies the ADB process — perfect for anyone new to ADB or who just wants an easier way of issuing ADB commands. It is called ADB-Helper, and it’s a Windows batch file (sorry Mac and Linux users).
Visit their original thread to learn more about ADB-Helper or grab the download directly from their Dropbox. The most current version as of this writing is 1.4, but if there is a newer version available, I recommend you use that.
Once you have the ZIP downloaded, extract all of its contents to the location of your choice. This is what is should contain:
The file you’ll want to run is Universal_ADB-Helper_1.4.bat, the rest are necessary for it to operate properly, but you don’t need to run them. They save you the trouble of having to download the entire Android SDK and pick out the ADB and Fastboot files. (Fastboot is similar to ADB, and for the purposes of ADB-Helper, operates identically.)
Above, you can see what should appear when you open the batch file. From here, the process is easy: just enter the number of the action you want to perform, then press enter.
If your chosen entry has multiple options, you’ll be given another choice. As shown above, when you enter “10” for rebooting, it then gives you the option of a normal reboot, reboot into recovery, or reboot into bootloader. The last option is always an exit to bring you back to the main menu in case your entry was an accident.
To confirm if ADB-Helper is recognizing your device, run the “Show Device” command by entering “5”.
Above is what you should see. It will ask if you want to check via ADB or Fastboot. Select ADB for now. If it can find your device, the serial number and the word “device” will appear at the bottom. If not, it will say “List of devices attached”, but nothing will appear below it.
Note: If you find that ADB-Helper isn’t recognizing your device, try these steps for getting Windows to recognize your Android device over ADB. Also be sure that USB debugging is enabled in your settings. OnePlus One users should follow these directions to get their drivers working properly.
Without ADB-Helper, making use of ADB can be extremely overwhelming for novices. XDA user Droidzone has created a great explanation and tutorial of ADB, but even with that, it involves downloading the entire Android SDK, navigating to obscure file locations, opening command prompts, and remembering specific ADB commands.
Below you can see what the regular process looks like if you take the typical ADB route. This is done in the command prompt and involves changing to the directory where the adb.exe file is located and then typing typing “adb” and then whatever your command is. I used “devices” to check if my device was recognized.
Sure, it’s possible to get by without ADB-Helper, but why would you want to? It creates a simpler process for doing the same thing.
How Useful Do You Find ADB-Helper?
Even though I’ve been using ADB commands with my Android device for a quite a while, I still find ADB-Helper to be extremely helpful. It takes care of all the basic ADB commands in a greatly simplified form, making ADB a lot less intimidating and confusing.
What do you think of ADB-Helper? Do you have a preferred way of issuing ADB commands to your Android device? Let us know in the comments!