ADB 'su' command returns 'su: permission denied' on a fully rooted device in recovery mode. I can modify folders and files that require root access on phone (when it's booted). ADB also works when it's booted - I only need to confirm a superuser pop-up on the phone.

USB debugging is enabled.

What can the problem be?


  • 1
    What device are you referring to?
    – t0mm13b
    Dec 26, 2012 at 16:15
  • What is the exact command you are using? You should be able to 'adb shell' into the phone and once inside, simply run 'su'. Dec 28, 2012 at 21:09

2 Answers 2


Most recoveries don't work in root mode - and root mode cannot be acheived, as the SU binary calls your superuser app to gain permission to use root mode.

As the su binary cannot call the app, it stops you using SU mode.

It could also be due to the fact that the su file used in recovery is the stock su file found in Android, and this doesn't let you switch to the root user (as if it did every device would be rooted).

Some recoveries allow root to be used - you will have to search for one for your device.


You are not going to get a popup superuser confirmation from within a rooted recovery.

That popup superuser confirm dialog only happens in a fully booted normal Android environment.

Sounds more likely that the ramdisk used within the recovery, has the setting ro.secure=1 in default.prop by accident thus preventing the su binary from getting executed with a error su: permission denied.

Had it being set as ro.secure=0 then adb would allow the s witch u ser to root function as normal.

OP: Please give more details such as make of handset, what version of recovery, is it clockworkmod or stock?

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