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USB debugging is a term that you may have come across multiple times while using Android smartphones. But what is USB debugging really? And what is it used for? This is exactly what this article attempts to explore and demystify.

The term USB debugging sounds intimidating, but it’s not as complex as it sounds. By activating USB debugging, you can essentially control various facets of the connected smartphone via a PC. Plus, you can run advanced commands to customize your system, root your phone, or even troubleshoot software problems.

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Let’s start with a more detailed treatment of the basic question.

What is USB Debugging?

As the name suggests, USB debugging refers to tracking errors over USB. Android app developers use this process to test apps in development or to find and fix problems. This is usually done with the Android Studio Development Kit (SDK) using a computer. These days, the USB debugging feature is also used by developers and Android users to perform tasks like installing a custom recovery, rooting a device, or installing a new ROM.

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USB to the rescue! / © NextPit

Editor’s note: USB debugging is an advanced tool and it can potentially enable many advanced features on your smartphone. While these features can be useful, enabling the USB debugging option can also be a security risk. For security reasons, the option for the security of the average smartphone user is usually hidden in the Android System Settings app. Make sure you never leave the USB debugging option enabled unless you’re a developer or geek who knows what it’s used for.

USB Debugging: What Is It Used For?

As mentioned earlier, your USB debugging allows your computer to easily communicate with your smartphone using just one USB connection. You may have heard of the term ADB a lot in connection with USB debugging. ADB is short for Android Debug Tool. This is the tool that Android developers typically use when a smartphone is connected to their computer via USB.

In order for ADB to communicate with the phone, the user must enable the USB debugging feature on their phones before attempting to connect. When the function is activated, a number of possibilities open up on the device, e.g. B. the ability to enable root access, install custom ROMs, reset the device to factory settings and much more.

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USB debugging opens up new options for Android customization / © NextPit

And as mentioned earlier, the USB debugging makes life easier for app builders who can test their developing apps on a real phone instead of using the official Google emulator.

How do I enable USB debugging?

To enable USB debugging, you need to confirm that your smartphone is recognized by your Windows computer. To check, simply connect your phone to the PC with a compatible USB cable and see if the phone is recognized. If Windows does not identify the device, follow the steps on this page to install the drivers on the computer so it can “communicate” with the phone.

In newer versions of Android, you have to go through a number of steps to access the menu and toggle USB debugging on and off.

To enable USB debugging, you must first enable the Developer Options menu in Android (if you haven’t already). Here are the full steps:

  1. Open your device’s the settings Menu.
  2. Scroll down to Over the phone.
  3. Tap on Build number / build version / software version about 7 times until you see a confirmation message.
  4. Tap the back button and you’ll see that Developer options The menu is displayed at the bottom of the settings page. On some telephones, this option can be hidden under “Additional settings”.
  5. Tap on it and scroll down until you see USB debugging;; Press it and press OK to activate it.
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How to activate USB debugging in Android 11 / © NextPit

If you have a device running Android 2.3 or earlier, do the following:

  • Open that the settings
  • Tap on Applications (sometimes called apps or app managers)
  • Scroll down until you find this one Developer options
  • Tap on it and enable USB debugging

Now you’re done, USB debugging has been enabled. You can now install custom ROMs on your Android device or even control your smartphone remotely if you have broken the screen.

Note that USB debugging can be undone by disabling USB debugging on your phone. You can also cancel any USB debug authorization on previously connected computers. To do this, simply click on “Revoke USB Debug Permissions” in the developer options.

Do you have any other questions about USB debugging? Let us know in the comments.


This article was last updated in April 2021. Older comments have been retained.

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