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Android's USB debugging feature may sound scary but it's not as complex as it may seem. USB debugging is basically just a way to allow an Android smartphone to transfer information to and from a computer. Below we tell you what exactly it is and how you can use it. 

What is USB debugging?

As the name suggests, USB debugging relates to the act of tracking bugs via USB. Traditionally, Android app developers would use this process to test software and find problems using the Android Studio development kit on a computer. Nowadays, it is used by both developers and Android users to assist in tasks such as installing a custom recovery, rooting a device, installing a new ROM and more.

AndroidPIT smartphone usb pc in March
Use debugging software via USB. / © AndroidPIT

How do I enable USB debugging?

To enable USB debugging, you first must enable the 'Developer options' menu in Android (if you haven't already). Here are the complete steps:

  • Go to the settings of your device by pulling down the notification shade and hitting the 'cog' icon
  • Scroll down to 'About phone'
  • Tap on 'build number' about 7 times until you see a message saying Developer options are activated
  • Hit back and you will see the Developer options menu appear at the bottom of the settings page
  • Tap on it and scroll down until you see USB debugging; press it and hit 'okay' to enable it
nexus 6 activate android debugging
Tap the build number seven times to enable developer options (left) and find USB debugging in that menu (right). / © ANDROIDPIT

If you have a device which is running Android 2.3 or earlier, here are the steps to follow:

  • Open the settings
  • Tap on Applications (sometimes called Apps or App Manager)
  • Scroll down until you find the Developer options
  • Tap on this and enable USB debugging

Now you're all set, USB debugging has been activated. You will now be able to install custom ROMs to your Android device, or even use your smartphone remotely if you have broken the screen.

Do you have any other questions about USB debugging? Let us know in the comments. 

11 comments

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  • Since the screen is broken I can't go to settings on my Samsung Note 5. Smart Switch sees the POS, but USB file transfer is not allowed. Any suggestions other than using it for target practice?

  • I have a 8GB digital recorder which has various audio files that I want to move over to my Android phone.The recorder has the included mini USB cable,similar to the type included with mobile phones.Sadly I have no P.C @ home to transfer the file,my goal is to use a audio enhancer app to clean the sound etc.The recorder has no Bluetooth or WIFI.I have thought it through with the OTG cable but a female to female adapter must be needed with the OTG.I would appreciate a personal direct help if poss,explaining better.Can I send diagrams to the site? I have activated the debugging setting,but when the cable is plugged in to the phone,I do not get a pop up notice telling me it's recognised..hhhheeeelllllpppp!!!

    • Bastian Siewers
      • Admin
      • Staff
      1 month ago Link to comment

      Hey Lee,

      I don't really think that this is actually possible. The only way I can think of is by using a PC to transfer the music files. The problem is that the phone won't recognise the digital recorder as a storage device.

  • I have no idea but best process learning

  • I connected my 3.0 usb with OTG cable to my Samsung J5 but the phone couldnt open the flash drive, why?? Can any one help?

  • I have problems in usb adb drivers identification on pc could i use otg cables linked to usb cable in indirect way to identify my htc one e8 on computer?

    • Bastian Siewers
      • Admin
      • Staff
      2 months ago Link to comment

      Hi! OTG does not really help when the PC does not recognize your phone properly. What cable are you using to connect your phone? Have to tried different USB ports?

      • I have original cable and try all possible solutions that you can imagine. useless. even i can not unlock my bootloader to update creepy android 4.4.2on my phone. i am imprisoned inside plastic box😡😡😡

  • Nice info. Scoot..! The options you have mentioned are specifically for app developers, It is worthy too note these..! ;)

    Keep going far more.. :)

  • yes get it done on my lg k7 thank you guys

  • Easy to read with simple instructions to follow

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