I just broke the screen of my (unrooted) Galaxy S.

How do I get back my SMS and contacts?

PS: I tried Kies but it won't detect my phone for some reason. (Kies works fine with another Galaxy I possess but not this one)


8 Answers 8


All of the solutions above require USB Debugging to be on. If it is not and you are using Android 4.0 then you can press power and volume down buttons simultaneously to obtain screenshot. If USB is not connected it will be placed somewhere on the SD card (e.g. \Pictures\Screenshots). Then you can connect USB to see the screenshot, then disconnect, navigate further and so on till you navigate yourself to enabling USB Debugging.

When USB Debugging enabled it is all easy as pie.

  1. Provided you have SDK installed you can use ddms.bat from tools folder to get screenshots fast and convenient, adjusting any options you need and even installing apps.
  2. Classic way - adb
  3. I've found Moborobo to be very convenient way to make full backup

I understand this is very late and hardly helps OP, but I hope it helps someone else lurking here for the way to save data, like me.

  • Screenshot idea is brilliant. Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 23:26
  • 1
    I am trying this in a Nexus 4 and even though the button combination takes the screen shot, nothing happens when I connect the USB cable afterwards. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 7:21

Does your device has HDMI or TV out facility? If so, you can connect it to another display device (monitor/TV) and install applications to backup your stuffs.

Another solution you could try is to install an app called Remote phone access via adb and control your device through PC. But the catch here would be that if have to configure the app for remote access, then you are in trouble as you cannot see what is happening as your screen is dead.

  • 2
    I think your idea just saved all the data on my hubby's htc phone with a dead screen. thanks for throwing it out there even if the galaxy s probably doesn't support that feature. Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 2:30
  • @JessicaBrown, I will be glad and rest like you might be benefited if you shed some more light on which procedure you adopted and how you did it (in brief).
    – Narayanan
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 4:43
  • 1
    Well, I'm still working on it, but in short I hooked the phone up to the TV with the HDMI output cable, enabled USB debugging by touching the black screen in the right places. Then I hooked the phone up to the computer and am using Android Screen Monitor to watch the screen, and side-loaded ShareKM to use the keyboard/mouse on the computer (laggy, but at least accurate), so I can install the appropriate apps to backup all the important data on the phone Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 19:27
  • +1 The "Connect it to another display device" idea is awesome , just saved me thanks
    – A.Alqadomi
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 12:26
  • I confirm, this worked for me wonders : github.com/adakoda/android-screen-monitor/blob/master/README.md
    – jhegedus
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 8:36

These are located in




Edit: I couldn't get adb pull working (requires root, can't remember how to call adb pull with root) but I just opened adb shell and used cp as root to copy it to /sdcard.

Edit2: I found this thread and it looks like your directories might be different.

  • You can use adb root to gain root access. However, this only works with rooted phones and emulator images.
    – Bob
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 15:12
  • damn! my phone isn't rooted :/ Any other option? Can i use adb to open up contacts and fire an intent to Export my contacts to SD card?
    – kn330
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 16:45
  • adb has no bearing or relation to controlling the GUI aspects of Android what-so-ever.
    – t0mm13b
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 18:09
  • what version of Android does your Galaxy S run on? You can dissect most exploit kits to run their parts manually via adb and also get root. When you get that you could use android screencast as a remote vnc like solution to install Titanium Backup. Last resort : install a CWM recovery via heimdall and do a full backup. TiBackup can extract data from that
    – ce4
    Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 4:54
  • I've been successful at exporting my contacts to SDcard with the help of 'adb shell input keyevents xx'. The first thing I'm going to do, after that fscking screen is repaired, is to root it and install android screencast. :)
    – kn330
    Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 20:42

I had the same problem with my S3 (broken screen, locked phone, Kies doesn't let me access it, etc).

Solution: Get another working S3 from a friend, take off the backs of both phones, take off some screws, take the motherboard out, put your motherboard in the phone, turn it on, back up, done). Your data is saved on the motherboard, so you can just put it in another phone and back up from there.

Just go to youtube and type Galaxy S3 board swap. It's easy and works.

  • 11
    "Get another working S3 from a friend [but make sure they don't know that you are going to rip it apart ]"
    – kn330
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 5:58

I had the same problem trying to get contacts off my Galaxy S3 with a broken screen. The solution was a program called "My Phone Explorer" from http://www.fjsoft.at/en/ It's free. You DON'T have to be rooted, modded, or anything to use it. I had tried everything I could find on the web, plus the people at my Verizon store, but couldn't find a solution that worked for retrieving contacts AND SMS messages from a phone with a broken screen.

  • 2
    Hummm... I saw this identical answer posted on the other question Are you affiliated with this app?
    – t0mm13b
    Commented Dec 29, 2012 at 23:20
  • 1
    I tried this, but connection didn't work. If you don't already have USB debugging on and the screen doesn't respond to touch, you're effed
    – B T
    Commented Jul 25, 2014 at 18:00
  • Useless. Requires ADB turned on. Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 12:19

Have you not thought of considering using DroidExplorer as the alternative to using Kies instead? It might help you pull in the contacts?

Using Kies can be quite obnoxious and not exactly on-the-ball...

  • DroidExplorer is "A tool to manage your rooted android device with the simplicity of Windows Explorer." I don't have root access and I am on Linux (Debian sid amd64)
    – kn330
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 18:48
  • Install mono and run it!!
    – t0mm13b
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 19:32
  • I didn't know the Mono port is already that far? On his website, Ryan still states he's looking for help with that. Are you using DroidExplorer on Linux via Mono, @t0mm13b ?
    – Izzy
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 10:52
  • 1
    @Izzy yes, very occasionally, it works... you'd be surprised how under-rated Mono is on Linux - provided there is no iffy Win32API used, you can actually run Win32 dotnet exe's under mono! :)
    – t0mm13b
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 13:38
  • OK, so I will see to give it a try as soon as time permits -- thanks for the feedback, @t0mm13b !
    – Izzy
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 13:50

I suggest using MyPhoneExplorer and its desktop companion:

In my case, debugging was not enabled on the phone. MAKE SURE THE PHONE IS ON AND PLUGGED IN!!!

You have to make sure that the driver is installed and that there is not an exclamation mark next to the device in device manager:

  • right click My Computer
  • left click Properties
  • left click Device Manager

If there is an exclamation mark next to your phone:

  1. go to Samsung's website and download the correct driver., there is one for sprint, Verizon, google, etc...
  2. Install the driver by double-clicking the downloaded file.
  3. go back to device manager and double click on the device
  4. click on update the driver
  5. click on browse my computer
  6. click let me choose from a list of device drivers
  7. click on adb interface
  8. click on the newest android interface
  9. click on whatever is necessary to keep the driver install going.
  10. It will say complete.

Get MyPhoneExplorer from the Playstore and install it (it's well worth a donation if you can afford it, if not it is free). On your PC, download and install the app's desktop companion.

From this app, read the help file and sync!!! It's very easy to use.

  • Remark: This solution requires a Windows computer (to my knowledge, there are no versions of the desktop companion for other OSses). Should be fine for the OP, as using Kies implies a Windows machine :)
    – Izzy
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 17:52
  • I don't get down-votes for this. This app with its companion is great (I have been using it for years) and it was exactly what helped me save my SMS messages while my phone was locked and not accepting Unlock Pattern. One thing thou, to run the app you should do "adb shell am start -n com.fjsoft.myphoneexplorer.client/com.fjsoft.myphoneexplorer.client.MainActivity". Then you can connect to the client from PC and backup your SMS messages. Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 19:55

Moborobo and Mobogenie both do great job of backup/update apps etc. (Windows)

Do not worry about downloading drivers etc. Both do the needful. Both are free.



FYI I use Moborobo.

  • 1
    Can you install it and backup without having to interact with the Android device's screen?
    – Dan Hulme
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 9:48

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