When it comes to , I often read recommendations like "Use adb logcat to find some more details". Looking for a good way to backup all my apps including their data, Full Backup of non-rooted devices refers to adb backup and adb restore. In several places one can find ways to remotely do on an Android device with the use of ADB, such as transferring files using adb push or adb pull, accessing the via adb shell, and more. So ADB seems to be a good thing to have for an Android user.

But how to get this "ADB thingy" on my computer? Not being a developer, installing the entire Android SDK seems a bit overkill. Is there a more minimalistic approach available?


7 Answers 7


I do not really understand why anyone would prefer downloading an old version of unknown origin from a malware-ridden website to downloading the latest official version directly from Google itself. I guess to each its own.

Here are the links to the Google repository:

The latest version of the platform tools (contains just a few binaries - less than 10Mb in size each):

For users of Ubuntu and Debian (distributions I personally use) I have put together a small bash script which finds and installs the latest version of the platform tools - Installing Android platform tools (ADB) on Ubuntu


In fact, it is not necessary to install the entire SDK if one does not want to use it for development. To be able to run basic ADB commands in the context needed by an average user, a rudimentary installation is completely sufficient. I will try to explain how to do this, and hopefully cover the most used computer systems.


First, you will need the basic binaries. These can be found e.g. in the Download area of my Android site, where I try to keep up-to-date versions available – for Linux, MacOS, and Windows.1

Windows users

If your computer is running Windows, you will also need the special drivers for your device (no generic solution here, so you need to check this out yourself; usually, those drivers are offered for download on the manufacturer's website).

Linux and Mac OS users

Linux and Mac OS users might need to make their device known to their operating system. For Linux, you find the necessary steps described in my answers here and here. Not being familiar with Mac OS, I can not speak for it.



For Linux, this is quite easy: Simply unpack the downloaded binaries into a directory of your choice. At the time I'm writing this, this will only be two files: adb and aapt (the latter being used by QtADB, and not necessarily needed to execute ADB commands directly). Adjust their file permissions to make them executable (e.g. from the command line: chmod 0755 adb aapt). Finally, it's a good idea to include the chosen directory with your $PATH variable, so you can call adb from wherever you are. A good place for that is at the end of your ~/.profile file to include an additional line like export PATH="~/bin:$PATH" (if you extracted the binaries to ~/bin).


The Windows download holds a couple more files. Also extract them into a directory of your choice. If you want them to be callable from wherever you are, without preceding the complete path, you need to add that path to your environment variables as well. Not being a Windows user, I must leave the "how to do this" to you.

What else?

You should be done at this point, and can use the full powers of the ADB command line.


Further readings

1: Also see Alex' answer for more alternative sources. My sources are the official Google downloads, just "stripped down".


I made something for OS X, this may be exactly what you are looking for: Quick ADB/Fastboot installer: ADB and Fastboot binaries with installer


15 seconds minimal ADB, fastboot and drivers installer. This is for Windows only.

  • No need to navigate to the installation folder in CMD.
  • It can be installed system-wide.
  • No need to check for manufacturer specific drivers.
  • Everything included in 9MB.

Debian makes it extremely simple to get legit, up-to-date installs of adb & fastboot.

If you really just want adb without fastboot: $ sudo apt-get install android-tools-adb

Or, if you're like me and think that they work better together:
$ sudo apt-get install android-tools-adb android-tools-fastboot


If you're on Arch Linux and you want to do this (following Izzy's answer of course!)...

Enable multilib in /etc/pacman.conf and install the 32-bit dependencies if necessary:

$ sudo pacman -Sy
$ sudo pacman -S lib32-{glibc,gcc-libs,zlib}

get the files:

$ curl -J -O https://android.izzysoft.de/downloads.php?file=adb-binaries-linux-1.0.32.tar.gz
$ tar xf adb-binaries-linux-1.0.32.tar.gz

the commands will install to your current directory, so for instance:

$ ./aapt

on linux Ubuntu/Debian:

sudo apt install android-tools-adb

but for updates, you are at mercy of a distro maintainers...

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