I have an old Android phone around whose display broke after a fall. The touch screen has stopped working but I am reluctant to accept the device merely as a paper weight.

I do have some use cases for the device, e.g. as a file server, if only I could configure the network settings and install certain apps.

My specific use case is not the question but:

How do I configure my Android device without using the touch screen?

I wonder if it is possible to configure the device via USB connection.

  • Did you have USB debugging enabled on the phone before the display broke? That would at least give you a way to interact with the phone via USB, but if it wasn't enabled beforehand I don't know how you could enable it. Apr 26, 2012 at 20:35
  • @eldarerathis I'm afraid I did a factory reset in order to exclude a software hiccup as the source for the dysfunctionality of the touch screen. The touch screen did work for a few month after the fall.
    – k0pernikus
    Apr 26, 2012 at 20:39
  • @eldarerathis I just checked. It is indeed activated.
    – k0pernikus
    Apr 26, 2012 at 20:48
  • 1
    When you say "The touch screen has stopped working" Do you mean that the display doesn't even turn on? so you can't see anything? OR that the display works but it does not receive any touch events?
    – FoamyGuy
    Apr 27, 2012 at 3:08
  • @Tim I can see what is happening on screen. Yet only some rare touch events are recognized. And that, inconstantly.
    – k0pernikus
    Apr 27, 2012 at 8:42

6 Answers 6


You can send fake keys and touches to an Android device using adb and USB connection.


About 3/4 into my post I present a bash script to send keys and touches to allow me to setup an Huawei IDEOS phone.


adb_tap 0x70 0x80  # tap on android icon
adb shell input keyevent 20  # down to 'Create'
adb shell input keyevent 20  # down to 'Sign in'
adb shell input keyevent 23  # enter
adb shell input text '[email protected]'
adb shell input keyevent 20  # down to 'password'
adb shell input text 'password or 2-factor code'  # 2-factor pw
adb shell input keyevent 23  # enter
adb shell input keyevent 20  # down to 'Sign in'
adb shell input keyevent 23  # enter
  • Does this require device to be rooted? Nov 25, 2013 at 0:37
  • No I don't think so
    – Thomas Vos
    Apr 15, 2015 at 11:06

You could use Android Screencast to control the device connected via usb. It only does about 3-5 fps, but you can do what you need to accomplish, if you have patience. You will need to have the android SDK installed (I believe).

Another solution, that would be specific to your device, is to see if you can find a replacement digitizer. If you can see what is on the screen, but it doesn't recognize the touches, then you need only the digitizer.


What device is it?

if it is a device that supports USB Host mode you can plug a keyboard into it with an adapter of some sort.

If you can't go that route, another option is a bluetooth keyboard. I don't know if you'll be able to get connected with no touch screen though. But if you can once your connected you'll be all set. You can control focus with the arrow keys, send a screen touch with enter, and esc acts as the back button.

  • 1
    I was hoping for a device-agnostic solution. In my case, the broken device is a Samsung Galaxy Ace.
    – k0pernikus
    Apr 26, 2012 at 21:47
  • does the small rectangle thing under the screen act as a trackpad and allow you to move focus around items on the screen? additionally can you press it to send an "enter" event to the system on whatever has focus?
    – FoamyGuy
    Apr 27, 2012 at 2:57

With this app MyPhoneExplorer I can successfully lock, unlock and uninstall apps from my phone without using the touch screen. I have gingerbread 2.3.5 installed .


I recently connected a mouse through USB OTG cable to my friend's phone which suffered a similar fate. With the mouse almost all functions were possible including typing thorough the onscreen keyboard. The only thing that was not possible was to use the Home, Back and Menu soft buttons.

I then installed Button Savior app to bring in a overlay soft buttons with which I used the home and back functionalities.


I found this response, while I had a similar problem with my Nexus7 and KitKat. AndroidScreencast and VNC didn't work for me.

I found the repeated use of "adb input" and guessing the x/y location to be very frustrating, so I wrote a series of shell scripts that make it easier to remotely tap/swipe on the screen.

See my blog post for my remote android script collection

In particular, if you want to press on the app whose icon is in the 3 row, and 2 column down, you simply type

XY 3 2

You can even click fractional locations, like

XY 6 0.1

which can be used to launch the menu option of Helium, so you can do a remote backup.

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