I have a Nexus 4 with a broken touch screen from which I would like to recover some files. adb is a tool often referred for this purpose, as in this guide.

I have installed adb and fastbook on my computer and have tried to connect to phone using various methods, but always without success. When I run adb services the list always comes out empty.

Browsing through previous questions on this matter, I came across this answer where it is said a certain USB debugging feature must be activated in the phone itself to allow the connection from adb. Obviously I can not do this since the touch screen is not working.

Is there any other of connecting through adb to a Nexus 4 with a broken touch screen?

  • Nope. You can use an OTG or Bluetooth mouse, and/or a TV-out adapter. You can also flash custom recovery if you're bootloader unlocked, and use the volume/power keys to navigate a recovery. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 14:15
  • The OTG mouse is a nice tip. Will I be able to draw my screen unlock gesture with it? That would pretty much give me full access to the phone. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 14:26
  • According to this guide I would need to root the phone to use an OTG connection; not a way out either. I also do not know how to activate Bluetooth without using the touch screen. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 14:30
  • Dang. I didn't know Google removed it through an OTA update. Still worth a try? Did you consider getting a new screen? Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 14:36
  • A screen replacement costs about the double of buying a new phone. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


You can access ADB if you install a custom recovery. I would recommend TWRP.

Note that the following solution requires a Nexus 4 with an unlocked bootloader. To unlock the bootloader you can do a fastboot oem unlock – but running that will wipe the user data as well.

  • Download the TWRP image for your device (Download the latest one)
  • Power off your phone
  • Press and hold the Volume Down Key and the Power button at the same time, this will let you boot your device in fastboot mode.
  • Move the downloaded TWRP image into the folder where you installed adb and fastboot, and then rename the downloaded twrp-X.X.X-X-mako.img file to "recovery.img". Open the "Command Prompt" in that location.
  • Type fastboot devices and check whether your computer recognizes your device. If the list the following command returns does not show your device, make sure you have the appropriate ADB Drivers installed.
  • Then type in fastboot flash recovery recovery.img and wait for a SUCCESS message.
  • Then type in fastboot reboot recovery and your phone should now reboot into recovery mode.

Your phone should now be accessible via ADB

Now you can follow this guide at XDA.

  • How do I power off the phone with a broken touch screen? Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 15:36
  • Nearly every phone can be shut down holding the power button for 4 sec or longer.
    – Robert
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 19:22
  • 2
    I thin you should consider mentioning and stressing the fact that your solution requires a Nexus 4 with an unlocked bootloader, otherwise, the solution would simply not work and would waste a reader's time since a reader might end up thinking that they are doing something incorrectly.
    – Firelord
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 4:49
  • I muddle through this answer, figuring out how to switch off the phone, that neither fastboot nor adb get a folder of their own, etc. fastboot devices recognises the phone, but the recovery command returns the following: "sending 'recovery' (9122 KB)... OKAY [ 0.290s] writing 'recovery'... FAILED (remote: not supported in locked device) finished. total time: 0.291s" Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 7:01
  • Firelord: would there be a way to unlock the bootloader? Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 7:02

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