What is USB debugging and how do I enable it?

What is USB debugging and how do I enable it?

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. It's one of the coolest things about Android since it lets you root your device, give ADB commands, fix a bricked phone and more. In this article, we'll explain exactly what it is and how to 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 custom recovery, rooting a device, installing a new ROM and more.

AndroidPIT type c cable 0629
USB to the rescue! / © NextPit

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:

  1. Open your device's Settings menu
  2. Scroll down to About phone
  3. Tap on Build number about 7 times until you see a confirmation message
  4. Tap the back button and you will see the Developer options menu appear at the bottom of the settings page
  5. Tap on it and scroll down until you see USB debugging; press it and hit Ok 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 operate your smartphone remotely if you have broken the screen.

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

Latest articles at NextPit

Recommended by NextPit


Write new comment:
All changes will be saved. No drafts are saved when editing
Write new comment:
All changes will be saved. No drafts are saved when editing

  • Glenn Nov 20, 2019 Link to comment

    How can I make my S8+ that is locked & blacked smashed screen to unlock& transfer all my data to my new Samsung a10e

  • Yes, when we use app on Android, we should allow USB debugging on phone, good share!!

  • Recently, I had a problem in USB debugging. This article helped me to solve that.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Also here is a video about this

  • how to enable it on a screen-broken device?

  • Can i do this with a XBOX360

  • 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?

    • Well, if you don't enable USB debugging, you can't transfer your data to PC. But you may try this method which can get data back from Samsung with broken screen.

  • 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!!!

    • 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 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?

  • 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

Write new comment:
All changes will be saved. No drafts are saved when editing