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How to downgrade your Nexus to an earlier Android version

How to downgrade your Nexus to an earlier Android version

Android 6.0 Marshmallow has landed, but if you're not thrilled about the update, you don't have to put up with it. Let us explain how to downgrade your Nexus device to a previous Android version. This walk-through applies to whatever version of Android your Nexus is running.

androidpit Kitkat vs Marshmallow
Don't want Marshmallow? We'll show you how to downgrade your Nexus. / © ANDROIDPIT

First up, you need the factory image for the Android version you want. In this case we're going to use Android 4.4.4 KitKat for the Nexus 5 – but you can substitute any Nexus device and any Android version. If you want to downgrade a Nexus 6 running Android 6.0 Marshmallow to Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, for example, it's the same procedure.

As you can probably guess, this process will wipe the contents of your phone clean, so make sure you back up your apps and data before proceeding

For this tutorial we'll download the Android 4.4.4 factory image for the Nexus 5 from Google's Developer Blog. Save this to your computer.

AndroidPIT Nexus5 factory image
This is the factory image page for the Nexus 5 on Google's Developer Blog. © ANDROIDPIT

How to downgrade a Nexus

1. Once you've got the factory image on your PC, download ADB Tools (if you don't already have it) to your PC as well.

2. Move the factory image file into the ADB Tools folder and unpack it.

3. Make sure USB Debugging is enabled on your Nexus. If it isn't, go to Settings > Developer Options and check the box next to USB Debugging. If you don't see the Developer Options section, go to About Phone and repeatedly tap Build Number until you see the notification pop up. Then back up to Settings and you'll see Developer Options at the bottom. Now, check USB Debugging.

4. If you need instructions on how to unlock Nexus 5 bootloader, hit the link.

5. Put your hand over your heart and say: ''I swear I've done a backup already.'' If you're lying, go do a backup!

6. Turn your Nexus off.

androidpit nexus 5 bootloader 1
This is Fastboot on the Nexus 5. / © ANDROIDPIT

7. Press and hold Power and the Volume Down button to enter Fastboot mode. If you have a custom recovery installed, you will be able to use the volume buttons to select Recovery Mode and press the Power button to confirm. 

8. If you have stock recovery, wait until you see the Android chilling out on its back, then press the Power button and quickly press the Volume Up button to enter Recovery. From Recovery Mode you can navigate with the volume buttons and confirm with the Power button.

AndroidPIT Nexus5 Custom Recovery
This is ClockworkMod on the Nexus 5. Your recovery may look different. / © AndroidPIT

9. Scroll down to wipe cache partition and hit Power to confirm.

10. Scroll to wipe date/factory reset and hit Power to confirm.

11. Now, connect your Nexus 5 to your PC with a USB cable.

12. Open up the ADB Tools folder and find the flash-all.bat file and double click it. Once it has done its thing, your Nexus will reboot with KitKat on it. Proceed through setup and restore your apps and data to enjoy the KitKat fun once again.

factory image flash all
Flash-all.bat is the one file to rule them all. © ANDROIDPIT

Note: Once you're back on KitKat, you're going to get over-the-air update notifications. You can simply ignore these.

Have you ever downgraded your Nexus? How did it go? Let us know why in the comments.

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92 comments

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  • Just downgraded my Nexus 7 2012 LTE, it had 16GB storage, now it has only 8 GB. WHYYYYYYY?...


  • Hi, Anyone in the UK West Midlands who might be prepared to do this for me on my Nexus?


  • Hi... anybody there,who can help me out. I tried this tutorial on my Nexus 5,followed all 12 steps but got stuck at fastboot mode and when i select start with power button it goes black and doesn't do anything,now i am left with nothing i think.


  • Thank you! This worked great. Looking forward to my old, old Nexus working like new again :)


  • I have a Nexus 5 and attempting to downgrade from 6.0.1 to 4.4 I get an error message " update package missing boot image" Anybody have an idea what to do to get past this so I can complete the downgrade


  • aljan Apr 18, 2016 Link to comment

    if i downgrade from android 6.1.1 to android 5.1.1 , do my ROM turn back to its original?


  • Guys, if the steps in this article doesn't work, try these instructions, thats how i solved the error, I gone through the process manually: ht p://androidforums.com/threads/guide-how-to-flash-a-nexus-factory-image-manually.706533/


  • ht tp: // www .technobuzz.net/ fastest-easiest-method-setup-adb-fastboot-windows/


    *edit* best to post the link too eh?


  • @Andy Astrop - Try this ADB Fastboot program next time, worked for me first try.

    CB


  • Hey i'm trying to flash from Android 6.0 marshmallow to 5.1.1 Lollipop but i'm stuck. I've unlocked bootloader and I think i've downloaded everything i need to, however, the step shown above where I'm supposed to click in adb tool (flashallbat) that file is not there. instead i have adbwinapi and adbwinusbapi. Nothing with the word flash in it at all. help?

    (running nexus 5)


    • You're talking about......on your PC, right? In a folder you've set up specifically to contain ADB tools. Inside of which, you have unZipped the ADB tools download so that all the components are now contained in that folder?In addition to flash-all.bat, you should also see flash-all.sh and flash-base.sh.
      Did you download ADB into a new folder, then unzip it inside that folder? How many files resulted and what are they?......(other than...or in addition to adbwinapi and adbwinusbapi?)


    • How you makin out, Donovan?


      • alrighty, sorry for the delay, i was at work. Alright so I set up a new folder to extract adbtools download into. in the folder are two separate folders (adbtools and adbtreiber). within adbtools are applications "ADB" and "FASTBOOT" and application extensions "adbwinapi" and "adbwinusbapi".

        within folder "ADB trieber" is "universal adbdriversetup" a windows installer package.


        that's all there is.


      • OK, yeah, sorry, I just realized that the flash-all.bat file is actually contained in the OS image that you download PRIOR to getting into the step-by-step "downgrade" instructions. (Don't blame yourself for this oversight...you probably overlooked this step just because of the way Kris laid out the article, with the reference to downloading the image file appearing BEFORE the heading "How to Downgrade a Nexus".

        Look again, you'll see, "For this tutorial we'll download the Android 4.4.4 factory image for the Nexus 5 from Google's Developer Blog. Save this to your computer."

        In YOUR case, you'll presumably go to the Google Developer Blog and instead of downloading the 4.4.4 image, you'll select the 5.1.1 and save it.

        Once you've downloaded and unpacked THAT, you should see a flash-all.bat and other files.

        Let us know how you make out.


      • i made it to the 10th step, however, running the flash-all showed an error message (fastboot is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file


      • Yeah, I had this same error at one point. Not POSITIVE what the problem was, but.......try checking Step 3 again and making sure debugging is still turned on .
        (Also, just curious if anyone ELSE is on this site.....particularly a MODERATOR would be good. IS there a moderator? Kris? Feel free to jump in here with any alternative suggestions for Donovan! :-)


      • I tried following these instructions (developers.google.com/android/nexus/images?hl=en) and hit the same wall. I'm trying a factory reset back to 6.0.1 to see if the software was unstable upon first install. will let you know how that goes. Otherwise, i'm due for a free upgrade with my carrier haha


      • so factory reset did not do anything. still the same old random shut downs.


      • That is exactly what I got. And now I am tomed out and have to start all over again.


    • Me too! Did you ever get it figured out? Horrible directions...:(


  • Hi. I've followed these instructions to the letter (well, for Nexus 7, not 5), and getting nowhere fast!
    When i hit flash-all.bat, i just see the message < waiting for device >.
    Should there be an extra step between steps 10-11?
    What should i do after completeing step 10?
    Does the device need to be rooted first? I see no mention of this anywhere...
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks


    • Hi, Andy.
      At the VERY least your device has to be unlocked. Did you do that yet? (see https://www.androidpit.com/how-to-unlock-nexus-5-bootloader)
      OR....... you may not have a correct USB driver installed on your PC. Search for the correct one (sorry I don't have time to dig it out....but it's easily Google-seached).....and put a copy of it in your ADB folder too.
      Good luck.


      • Hi Michael. Thanks for the prompt reply! I'm a complete noob at this stuff, so please bear with me!
        I've just successfully rooted the device, and also confirmed that the bootloader is unlocked (presume these are one and the same thing?).
        About to start the process again, but, regarding the USB driver, Windows recognises the device, if i connect it 'normally', so i'm pretty sure it's not that.
        I'm gonna go thu everything SLOWLY, to make absolutely sure i'm not missing anything.
        My N7 is SEVERELY misbehaving, so i'm wondering if it's totally shagged! Will report back....
        Thanks again


      • Good luck. Try also googling a site/company called skipsoft. They apparently have some good tools.


    • P.S. Don't hold your breath for a more "knowledgeable" answer from this forum......
      I've had my questions up here for 48 hours (similar to YOUR question)....and got NO response from anybody. Pretty disappointing.


      • Well....i don't know what i did differently this time around, but i'm now running Kit Kat 4.4.4!!
        Let's hope it performs better than it has been!!!
        Thanks for your help, Michael!


      • Heyyyyyyyyyy.......congratulations, buddy. Enjoy. (I finally had a friend restore my back to the original OS......then stepladder it all the way back to 5.1.1 and it seems to be handling it OK.
        Good luck and enjoy your tab.
        Cheers,
        Michael


      • Yeah! I'm gonna do the same! Some of my apps don't run too well on KitKat, so i'm gonna update to Lollipop again, to see what happens.
        Now i know what to do, i can always revert back to whatever flavour i want!! :p
        Good luck to you too!! :)


    • Same here. I thought the bootloader was already unlocked, but it turns out it was not. I had to go back to the fastboot menu for it to show up. After that, I unlocked it at the prompt, and bingo, the .bat was able to do it's job.


  • OK......now I'm afraid I've REALLY botched my Nexus 7.
    After trying and trying to get it go DOWNGRADE to Kit Kat about 30 times.....now it will only go to a screen that looks like the "Fastboot pic" at the top of this article.......with Android guy lying on his back, and the big Start, Restart bootloader, Recovery mode, Power off options menu at the top of the screen.........OR, it will go to what looks like a combination of the "regular" startup screen, with the big Google logo in the middle and the opened lock at the bottom of the screen......but STILL with the Fastboot menu in the top/right corner of the screen.

    When THIS display is present, there is also a tiny white message in the top LEFT corner of the screen saying "Booting failed".

    I take it this is NOT a good sign........since I've tried every combination of button sequences and cable connected/disconnected I can imagine and it won't boot......neither into 'normal' run mode NOR recovery mode.

    Thoughts? Thanks. Mike


  • "Device driver software was not successfully installed" is ANOTHER message I saw on the bottom of my laptop's screen while rebooting my Nexus 7 (AFTER a failed downgrade to KitKat attempt)

    Is that a bad thing? If so......what to do?


  • ON NEXUS 6 ANDROID 6 IS UNABLE TO UNLOCK SIM CARD. WONDERFUL. DOES ANYONE HAVE AN IDEA?


  • Hi, I have a question about downgrading to KitKat 4.4.4
    Is it possible to go from Marshmallow 6.0 to KitKat 4.4.4 or is it not possible to do?

    I've been trying to downgrade my Nexus5 to KitKat 4.4.4 few times because I do not enjoy the new Marshmallow, but I've been failing to do so.

    What might I be doing wrong?


    • Yes it is possible, I believe...

      My Nexus 5 was on 5.1.1 lollipop
      But I unlocked bootloader, rooted, install custom recovery TWRP

      I installed mutisystem, flashed the 6.0 bootloader and radio with TWRP

      Installed a 6.0 stock from with mutli system

      I completely unrooted an flash back to 4.4 stock
      And relocked my bootloader, and removed oem status device been tampered with.

      Now I've done 4.4.2, 4.4.3, and now 4.4.4 update.
      Device is factory unlocked, But my phone service is working on AT&T.


      • Hi Brad,

        I have AT&T also and was curious about a few things you mention above. I just switched from HTC One M7 to Nexus 5 because of bluetooth issues that were created by a Lollipop incompatibility issue with my phone. Ironically, and not in a good way, I am having almost the same bluetooth issue with my Nexus 5 due to a bug in Marshmallow (confirmed by many, many users on Google forums). As a result, I found this article with the full intent of rolling back to that version.

        Being new to anything but stock Android, I am curious where you got the directions and, more importantly, the background info to do what you did above?

        Obviously, this article explains the rolling back process which includes unlocking bootloader, but not root if I'm not mistaken. I've read a fair bit on XDA forums, but without having a person to "talk" to that's actually done this, it's slightly confusing.

        Thanks in advance.


  • I did this on my Nexus 7 3G (2012) and it worked. I cannot thank you enough. My tablet has become an important part of my life and the Lollipop update was a real pain in the neck.


  • OMG how i missed the KitKat logo!


  • My Nexus 7 2012 is a brick since upgrading to 5.0.2 - laggy, shuts down or crashes, etc.

    I downgraded my Nexus 7 2012 to 4.4.3 yesterday, but it took me hours. I first tried to downgrade from 5.0.2 to 4.4.4 - but that didn't work. I managed to start flashing the device, but during the step: "sending system", the flash-all-script reported an error with the data (FAILED ... too many links).
    My Nexus (or Android) was corrupt after that and wasn't able to boot anymore. The next problem was that Windows wasn't able to find my Nexus anymore and I couldn't flash it again or set it to boot mode by an ADB command.

    The solution was to replace my Nexus USB drivers with generic ADB drivers from ClockWorkMod and set the Nexus to bootloader mode with the hardware key combination (hold volume + and - during boot).
    Then, Windows was again able to recognize the Nexus and I tried again flashing it with 4.4.4. Same error during flashing...

    Next, I downloaded the image for Android 4.4.3. and started flashing that again and wow, it worked!
    The device started up again with a clean Android 4.4.3. After setting up WIFI the Nexus instantly began downloading an update to 4.4.4. and I installed it. Now I'm glad to have a clean Nexus 7 with 4.4.4. again - although in between I feared to have a paperweight now...
    After having installed 4.4.4. Android is now annoying with the 5.0.2 update all the time.

    I hope I'll never confirm this accidentally....:)


    • Hi Patty,

      I got the same problem. How did you replace Nexus USB drivers with generic ADB drivers from ClockWorkMod?

      Thanks,
      -Wenhua


  • Used this method.Worked absolutely well on my Nexus 7 2012.Don't download lollipop on this model.Lot of lagging and became unusable and thanks


    • I also have a 2012 Nexus 7. I downloaded lollipop and my tablet, that worked seamlessly with KitKat is now a paperweight.
      Pleased to hear you did this without any glitches. I'm doing this today. Will gives updates...hopefully on my Nexus 7…


  • I have the same problem as Ch Asim. I've done all the steps & connected to PC. Double clicking on flash-all.bat file does nothing to my Nexus 7 (2012 wifi) Some command window opens with 'waiting for device' & nothing happens. : ( Please reply or my device would be useless.

    Edit: I couldn't delete my comment. My problem was that the bootloader wasn't unlocked. Had to unlock it from the recovery or so menu & then it proceeded to downgrade to Kitkat.


    • I'm facing the same problem. But can you tell me the procedure to unlock the bootloader.
      Now that i've unlocked the bootloader, i am still facing the same problem 'waiting for the device'
      what to do?


  • dear i am done step 10 on my nexus 7 tablet and than i try to open flash all and it keep put me on wait and never let me finish this plz help me dont know wht to do i am in the middle


    • I got the same problem. The reason was that the bootloader wasn't unlocked. If you can't see the lock icon every now & then, than it's still locked. In your menu you need to choose unlock boot loader & then confirm with yes. It would work then.


      • I, too, am getting the message on my PC: "Waiting for device".........and on my tablet: "Now send the package you want to apply to the device with 'adb sideload <filename>"...

        (They obviously WANT to talk....but can't.)

        If a locked bootloader is my problem......WHICH menu is "Unlock Bootloader" in? I don't see it on the Nexus. (On my 2012 Nexus 7) My menu has:

        reboot system now
        apply update from ADB
        wipe data/factory reset
        wipe cache partition
        reboot to boatloader
        power down
        view recovery logs

        Was "Unlock Bootloader" on a prior screen? (You're not talking about a menu on the Settings page, by any chance are you?......or on the PC?)


  • If it flashes successfully, just let it stay at that Google screen. My Nexus 10 takes at least 20 minutes to initialize after flashing a new rom.


  • Would appreciate comments/feedback. Have until tomorrow to return the tablet. If there's a chance it can be downgraded, please tell me what I'm doing wrong. Thanks


  • I have a Wi-Fi only Nexus 7 tablet manufactured 3/2015. It came with 5.0.2 on it, but I need 4.3. I followed the instructions and tried to downgrade it using both JSS15Q and JSS15R images. When the tablet rebooted, it immediately got stuck on the black Google screen. I eventually downloaded the 5.0.2 image and successfully applied it. Any idea why the tablet updates to 5.0.2, but won't take the 4.3 images? Any thoughts on where to go from here? Thanks


    • I am having the exact same problem.... have you ever determined a solution to your issue?

      Thanks!


  • My phone started giving me problems after the Lollipop update. I had lag, random freezes and my battery life is horrible now. It's probably half of what it used to be (and it wasn't the best to begin with.)

    I want to try this method to downgrade back to Kit Kat without Root, but does anyone know how to prevent the phone from constantly asking me to update the software after I downgrade? That's the reason I upgraded to Lollipop in the first place, I kept getting annoyed by the notifications to upgrade. I'm on Sprint and have a Galaxy Note 4.


  • Iam downgrading LG Google Nexus 5 from 5.0.1 to 4.4.4 But after switting to recovery mode showing andoid icin with error & No commands pls suggest for Step 8 onwards


    • you need to press the power button and then the volume up button really quickly after it. This is tricky but it should work, you just need to be very fast.


  • Sigh all of these Mac users. Mac is trash get a PC


  • Demone Apr 27, 2015 Link to comment

    Is it possible to install this way CyanogenMod instead off KitKat?


  • I did all the steps but when I get to 12 my macbook says it doesn't know what app to use to open the flash-all.bat file. Please help, I f**king hate lollipop!


  • come on !!! where is the flash-all.bat,flash-all-sh,flash-base-sh files?
    i download two Stock Roms from google developers but it is just one file please help .... just a .tar file... when i extract it the is just one file !!!


    • Same problem for me... No flash-all.bat files. .tar file extracts to one file and it has an invalid header. I've had enough problems trying to do this downgrade that I'm starting to think Google is sabotaging these files. Wth?


  • My Lollipop experience was traumatic.
    Battery drain at its worst. Had to carry a charger in my pocket along with the phone.
    no photo gallery
    blue tooth connection to car - totally buggy

    nexusandme.com/revert-back-from-android-l-to-kitkat
    must faster and quickest way for downgrading from Lollipop to KitKat 4.4.4
    smooth and easy. step by step. go to this nexusandme.com/revert-back-from-android-l-to-kitkat
    no error , just simple click and install.


  • Thanks for the guide.

    I'm on a Mac, but I was able to follow the steps by making a few changes, and it worked like a charm.

    I already had ADB installed as part of the Android SDK, so that part was covered. There are simpler ways to install ADB than installing the full SDK, and Google is your friend for that.

    In the downloaded factory image archive there is a ./flash-all.sh which is what you run (from a terminal) instead of the ./flash-all.bat if you're on a *nix system like me.


  • It's most definitely not working.


  • I have a big problem. The flash-all.bat thing doesn't exist, and the hammerhead(...) thing isn't a zip folder, it's just hanging there and even if I double-checked the udb debugging, it still says "waiting for device" WHAT DO I DO PLEASE HELP


  • Thank you!


  • Vlady Jan 27, 2015 Link to comment

    it's a good idea to downgrade? you think KitKat is better then lollipop?


  • Pigmy Jan 24, 2015 Link to comment

    Hi,
    Tanks for the instructions - I got through them and backdated my tablet to Kitkat. Its working really well now, except....
    ...my tablet keeps telling me it has a super new OS to install called Lollipop! Anyone know a way of turning this update off?
    Thanks


  • Thanks! 5.0 was sooo slooow on my Nexus 7. I have wrote small article based on yours in my blog, if you don't mind, of course. druss.info/2014/12/how-to-downgrade-nexus-from-5-0-to-4-4/


  • OK I now understand the problem .When I enter recovery mode I have stock recovery my Pc gets disconnected from my Nexus 5.Please help


  • I have all the drivers my phone is connected to my pc well .I know this as I unlocked the fast boot loader at step 12 it says waiting for devices help me please.


  • I did it on my tablet Nexus 7 (2012 WiFi) everything (all steps) went good but at the end my tablet was still with lollipop :(
    please help I want my kitkat 4.4.4 back this lollipop 5.0 is useless


  • same as bartosz can you send a driver link and how to install guide on windows 8.1 please.I am also on step 12 but have restarted my phone due to some work.Please reply soon smartphones are our lives


  • I am on Step 8/9 and I cannot confirm the Recovery Mode by pressing the power button! No matter how quickly I push it, it will start the phone and skip to an android bot lying on its back saying "no command".
    How do I enter the part where I can select Step 9?!?


  • hi,
    Need help! I would like to know if i can downgrade the lollipop update i done on nexus 4 ..the screen is completely unresponsive ..do i have to follow same procedure like nexus 5 ..please help..im stuck


  • where do I find the "flash-all.bat", I download the adb tools from the link, but I don't find the files mentioned in the article


    •   1
      Deactivated Account Dec 27, 2014 Link to comment

      I'm having the exact same problem, I deleted & redownloaded the image & it still didn't show the other files it only gave me one


  • Best thing I ever did was to downgrade to KitKat..


  • Rulet Nov 27, 2014 Link to comment

    How to backup apps and data on Nexus 4(which was updated to Android 5) when downgrading to Android 4.4.4?


  • Dear Sietse Schalks
    if you are still getting fastboot error...try this
    1.make sure fastboot.exe, adp.exe,batch-all.bat are at the same location...u can unzip the factory file and copy its content wherever is your fastboot and adp is...just copy all the contents shown in the above image..
    2. after step 11 switch on your phone and enable debugging option in developers option
    3.after that just come to fastboot mode in your phone by switching it off and then holding volume down and power button
    4. now just double click on flash-all.bat and wait for it to do its magic


  • I recieve the message: "fastboot" is not reconized as an internal or external command, operable program or bacth file. What does this mean?


  • I just completed step 8, and now my screen is at a standstill with Droid on his back and it says "No Command" Help!!! It isn't responding to anything now.


  • KiWY Nov 19, 2014 Link to comment

    Gettin this error:
    sending 'bootloader' (2508 KB)...
    FAILED (command write failed (No such device or address))
    finished. total time: 0.004s
    rebooting into bootloader...
    FAILED (command write failed (Unknown error))
    finished. total time: 5.003s
    sending 'radio' (45409 KB)...
    FAILED (command write failed (No such device or address))
    finished. total time: 0.004s
    rebooting into bootloader...
    FAILED (command write failed (Unknown error))
    finished. total time: 5.003s
    archive does not contain 'boot.sig'
    Press any key to exit...


  • KiWY Nov 19, 2014 Link to comment

    HELP!
    for me whenever I run Flash-all.bat its fails and says fastboot.exe stopped


  • I'm stuck at point 12. Flash-all.bat says it's waiting for device. I have plugged my nexus in, but no windows sound can be heard.


    • If your PC is not picking up that your phone is plugged in, make sure you have the drivers installed for that device and then double check that you have USB Debugging enabled.


    • SOLVED:
      The problem is when you do step no. 9, USB debugging is disabled as device is restored to factory settings. I would recommend the following steps:

      10.1) Restart the device and enable USB Debugging.

      10.2) Repeat step 6 and step 7.

      Then proceed to step 11. You can double click on "flash-all.bat" file in the Fastboot screen itself, you don't have to go to recovery mode. Hope this helps!

      @Kris Carlon: Please update your steps with correct procedure. I know how frustrating this could be! Thanks!


      • I got the same problem, but also, when I download the adb file you gave, the flash-all.bat thing doesn't exist. Why? Please help me


      • I did all the steps (grew a few gray hairs on the way and tore some out), I am immensely happy that I eventually read your comment, it saved even more hours of insanity. Yet... My tablet is STILL on the 5.0 version for some reason.....

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