I have a Moto X (Lollipop 5.1) whose display is broken. I have some files and photos in it which are very important. Unfortunately, I didn't use Dropbox or Google Drive to backup my content. I tried the following ways to recover the data but with no help:

  • Control a device with a broken screen but unfortunately USB debugging is not enabled. Also, the pc doesn't recoganize the device (I figured that out with lsusb on my linux).
  • The phone doesn't have any apps like AirDroid installed to allow it to be accessed remotely on a PC.

The phone works and I was able to locate and ring it via Android Device Manager. Is there a way to get access to the phone's data in my current situation?

  • Good research already I see. Have you checked with our broken-screen tag-wiki also? Some useful links there.
    – Izzy
    Jul 27, 2015 at 15:36
  • Look at this answer you may find this helpful to atleast enabling the USB-debugging.
    – Lucky
    Jul 27, 2015 at 15:39
  • @Lucky quote: "the pc doesn't recoganize the device (I figured that out with lsusb on my linux)" – fat chance if it's not even detected by lsusb.
    – Izzy
    Jul 27, 2015 at 15:44
  • 2
    @Lucky no need for "drivers" on Linux (though one would need some special software to deal with MTP). And think of lsusb here in terms of "device manager" on Windows: even without drivers installed, the device would show up there – and if it doesn't, installing drivers doesn't help (as those drivers wouldn't find a device to "drive").
    – Izzy
    Jul 27, 2015 at 16:01
  • 1
    From what I've read so far, I'm afraid there's no way attaching an external display to the Moto-X via USB, sorry :(
    – Izzy
    Jul 28, 2015 at 15:45

4 Answers 4


Most if not all Android phones will connect via USB cable to a computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) as a mass storage device or media device; either should let you use your computer's file manager to copy the files from the device to the computer's storage.

The device needs to be powered up to do this, but you don't (in my experience) need to make any settings changes in the device, so it shouldn't matter that the display is destroyed -- that is, if it works well enough to ring, you should be able to access and copy your files.

If the device won't mount as mass storage or media on a USB cable, you may still be able to recover files if they're stored on an SD card -- you'll just need to power down the phone and pull the SD card, then insert it in a compatible reader connected to your computer.

  • A quote for you as well: "the pc doesn't recoganize the device (I figured that out with lsusb on my linux)" If lsusb doesn't show the device, no MTP/UMS/whatever will pop up: the computer doesn't see it at all.
    – Izzy
    Jul 27, 2015 at 15:45
  • Hence the third paragraph of my answer. If it won't mount on USB, that's the only way to recover files, short of hacking the phone hardware to read out its internal storage.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jul 27, 2015 at 16:25
  • As @Izzy pointed out the computer doesn't see the device at all. Also, Moto X doesn't support an external SD card. Jul 27, 2015 at 16:25

I would install AirDroid or something similar via the Google Play website, you can select which device you want to install on.

Alternatively, I would connect it to a PC, copy everything and if there's still something missing I would connect it to a new Samsung Galaxy S7 phone and use that phones transfer features, http://www.samsung.com/us/smart-switch/


I was in a similar situation, find a USB OTG online and connect a USB mouse to it. If you can at least see your screen, you're in luck. If it's a dead screen you'll have to use your muscle memory and guess work to figure out where to click. Good luck!


follow these approaches

  • PC does not recognize device ? device drivers are missing. Install 'em

  • 3rd party software Easus or fonepaw might do the trick - they install the drivers under the covers

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