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How to record screen on a Nexus 5

How to record screen on a Nexus 5

When Android KitKat first arrived on the Nexus 5, one of the more obscure but super-cool new additions was the ability to record the screen. Just because you had the ability though did not make the process simple for the uninitiated, requiring a computer, USB cable and an ADB command to make it all happen. The process is actually really easy, so here's how to do it, as well as how to do it with a simple app if your Nexus 5 is rooted.

Nexus 5 Android 4 4 UI
There's plenty of reasons you might want to record your screen, and two easy ways to do it! / © AndroidPIT

ADB method

ADB isn't as scary as it sounds. Sure, if you've never familiarized yourself with Android Debug Bridge command line tools it might seem alien and daunting, but it's not. All you need to do – and this process works on non-rooted Nexus 5's – is connect your device to your computer with a USB cable and, assuming you already have the Android SDK or ADB Tools installed, enter a single ADB command: adb shell screenrecord/sdcard/NAME.mp4

This is the command prompt window with my screen record ADB command. I called my file s1 but you can call yours whatever you like. / © AndroidPIT

Obviously, NAME refers to whatever you want to call the file. When you're done recording just hit Control + C on your computer to stop and grab the mp4 file from your Nexus 5. If you want to use ADB to grab the file, enter the command: adb pull/sdcard/NAME.mp4

What you need

If all of this is moving too fast for you, let's back it up a notch. You'll need the following:

Make sure that USB Debugging is enabled in your Developer Options (go to Settings > About Phone and tap Build Number until the notification toast pops up). Then, turn off your Nexus 5 and press Volume Down and Power to enter Fastboot. Connect the device to your computer with a USB cable. On your computer, navigate in Windows Explorer to the ADB Tools folder. Find some blank space in the window and right click while pressing the Shift key. Select ''Open command window here'' to bring up the ADB command prompt. Then (with your Nexus 5 connected in Fastboot mode with USB Debugging enabled) enter the ADB command from above. If you need help getting this far, here's a great tutorial on installing the Android SDK (you only need ADB Tools for this tutorial though, the entire Android SDK takes a while to install).

Link to Video

App method

If your Nexus 5 is rooted there are a few apps in the Play Store that will remove the fuss of ADB commands and add a shiny interface to the whole procedure. One of the best is called Rec. (Screen Recorder). If your Nexus 5 is rooted simply install the app and get started. There's a Pro version that allows you untethered screen recording and combined audio/video recording for up to an hour. The free version limits you to 30 seconds, but in my experience most screen recordings I've made are always less than that anyway.

AndroidPIT Screen Record 1
Rec. (Screen Recorder) is a neat little root app that makes screen recording easy. / © AndroidPIT/SPECTRL

Set your preferences and give your recording a title then hit Record. You'll be given a countdown until the recording starts, and you can set Rec. to minimize while you are recording in the app's settings. Your video progress will appear in your notifications shade (you can also use this to stop recording) and you can access your recorded file when you're done via a file manager app like ES File Explorer.

AndroidPIT Screen Record 2
Once you've granted Rec. superuser privileges you can screen record with ease. / © AndroidPIT/SPECTRL


  • Because Rec. can also record audio, if you are making a quick demo or tutorial for YouTube or some other purpose, you can save yourself the hassle of doing a voiceover of the video by recording the audio as you make the video. 
  • If you don't want the Superuser toast to be on screen at the start of your video, just go into your App manager settings and turn off notifications for whatever Superuser app you have installed. When you're done recording you may want to turn notifications back on.
  • If you're making an instructional video, you might want to enable visible touches in your Developer Options so your viewers can see your touchscreen presses. Just go to Developer Options and look for the Input section and tick the box for ''Show touches.''
  • If you have issues with glitchiness in your recordings, mess around with the bit rate and the speed at which you swipe and navigate in your video. Taking it easy not only improves the chances of your video coming out smoother but it means your viewers will be able to follow what you're doing more easily.

Enjoy your screen recording fun! If you want more info head over to the Android Developer page.

What other apps can you recommend? What do you use screen recording for?

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  • Great post, thanks for the guide. Any guide on how to record iPhone screen? I found many guides about how to use QuickTime player to record iPhone screen, but I cannot get my iPhone 6s to connect - I don't see them as an option in the drop down menu on quicktime. The lightening cord works/connects just fine. I used to do that with Acethinker iPhone screen recorder, never had the problem.