# adb shell

adb shell opens a Linux shell in a target device or emulator. It is the most powerful and versatile way to control an Android device via adb.

This topic was split from ADB (Android Debug Bridge) (opens new window) due to reaching the limit of examples, many of which were involving adb shell command.

# Granting & revoking API 23+ permissions

A one-liner that helps granting or revoking vulnerable permissions.

  • **granting**
    adb shell pm grant <sample.package.id> android.permission.<PERMISSION_NAME>
  • **revoking**
    adb shell pm revoke <sample.package.id> android.permission.<PERMISSION_NAME>
  • **Granting all run-time permissions at a time on installation (-g)**
    adb install -g /path/to/sample_package.apk
  • # Send text, key pressed and touch events to Android Device via ADB

    execute the following command to insert the text into a view with a focus (if it supports text input)

    Send text on SDK 23+

    adb shell "input keyboard text 'Paste text on Android Device'"

    If already connected to your device via adb:

    input text 'Paste text on Android Device'

    Send text prior to SDK 23

    adb shell "input keyboard text 'Paste%stext%son%sAndroid%sDevice'"

    Spaces are not accepted as the input, replace them with %s.

    Send events

    To simulate pressing the hardware power key

    adb shell input keyevent 26

    or alternatively

    adb shell input keyevent POWER

    Even if you don't have a hardware key you still can use a keyevent to perform the equivalent action

    adb shell input keyevent CAMERA

    Send touch event as input

    adb shell input tap Xpoint Ypoint

    Send swipe event as input

    adb shell input swipe Xpoint1 Ypoint1 Xpoint2 Ypoint2 [DURATION*]

    *DURATION is optional, default=300ms. source (opens new window)

    Get X and Y points by enabling pointer location in developer option.

    ADB sample shell script

    To run a script in Ubuntu, Create script.sh right click the file and add read/write permission and tick allow executing file as program.

    Open terminal emulator and run the command ./script.sh


    for (( c=1; c<=5; c++ ))
           adb shell input tap X Y
           echo "Clicked $c times"
           sleep 5s

    For a comprehensive list of event numbers

    # List packages

    Prints all packages, optionally only those whose package name contains the text in .

    adb shell pm list packages [options] <FILTER>
    All <FILTER>
    adb shell pm list packages


    -f to see their associated file.

    -i See the installer for the packages.

    -u to also include uninstalled packages.

    -u Also include uninstalled packages.

    Attributes that filter:

    -d for disabled packages.

    -e for enabled packages.

    -s for system packages.

    -3 for third party packages.

    --user <USER_ID> for a specific user space to query.

    # Recording the display

    Recording the display of devices running Android 4.4 (API level 19) and higher:

    adb shell screenrecord [options] <filename>
    adb shell screenrecord /sdcard/demo.mp4

    (press Ctrl-C to stop recording)

    Download the file from the device:

    adb pull /sdcard/demo.mp4

    Note: Stop the screen recording by pressing Ctrl-C, otherwise the recording stops automatically at three minutes or the time limit set by --time-limit.

    adb shell screenrecord --size <WIDTHxHEIGHT>

    Sets the video size: 1280x720. The default value is the device's native display resolution (if supported), 1280x720 if not. For best results, use a size supported by your device's Advanced Video Coding (AVC) encoder.

    adb shell screenrecord --bit-rate <RATE>

    Sets the video bit rate for the video, in megabits per second. The default value is 4Mbps. You can increase the bit rate to improve video quality, but doing so results in larger movie files. The following example sets the recording bit rate to 5Mbps:

    adb shell screenrecord --bit-rate 5000000 /sdcard/demo.mp4
    adb shell screenrecord --time-limit <TIME>

    Sets the maximum recording time, in seconds. The default and maximum value is 180 (3 minutes).

    adb shell screenrecord --rotate

    Rotates the output 90 degrees. This feature is experimental.

    adb shell screenrecord --verbose

    Displays log information on the command-line screen. If you do not set this option, the utility does not display any information while running.

    Note: This might not work on some devices.

    The screen recording command isn't compatible with android versions pre 4.4

    The screenrecord command is a shell utility for recording the display of devices running Android 4.4 (API level 19) and higher. The utility records screen activity to an MPEG-4 file.

    # Set Date/Time via adb

    Default SET format is MMDDhhmm[[CC]YY][.ss], that's (2 digits each)

    For example, to set July 17'th 10:10am, without changing the current year, type:

    adb shell 'date 07171010.00'

    Tip 1: the date change will not be reflected immediately, and a noticable change will happen only after the system clock advances to the next minute.
    You can force an update by attaching a TIME_SET intent broadcast to your call, like that:

    adb shell 'date 07171010.00 ; am broadcast -a android.intent.action.TIME_SET'

    Tip 2: to synchronize Android's clock with your local machine:


    adb shell date `date +%m%d%H%M%G.%S`

    Windows (PowerShell):

    $currentDate = Get-Date -Format "MMddHHmmyyyy.ss" # Android's preferred format
    adb shell "date $currentDate"

    Both tips together:

    adb shell 'date `date +%m%d%H%M%G.%S` ; am broadcast -a android.intent.action.TIME_SET'

    Default SET format is 'YYYYMMDD.HHmmss'

    adb shell 'date -s 20160117.095930'

    Tip: to synchronize Android's clock with your local (linux based) machine:

    adb shell date -s `date +%G%m%d.%H%M%S`

    # Open Developer Options

    adb shell am start -n com.android.settings/.DevelopmentSettings

    Will navigate your device/emulator to the Developer Options section.

    This command print all relevant application data:

    • version code
    • version name
    • granted permissions (Android API 23+)
    • etc..
    adb shell dumpsys package <your.package.id>

    # Changing file permissions using chmod command

    Notice, that in order to change file prmissions, your device need to be rooted, su binary doesn't come with factory shipped devices!


    adb shell su -c "chmod <numeric-permisson> <file>"

    Numeric permission constructed from user, group and world sections.

    For example, if you want to change file to be readable, writable and executable by everyone, this will be your command:

    adb shell su -c "chmod 777 <file-path>"


    adb shell su -c "chmod 000 <file-path>"

    if you intent to deny any permissions to it.

    1st digit-specifies user permission, 2nd digit- specifies group permission, 3rd digit - specifies world (others) permission.

    Access permissions:

    --- :   binary value:   000,  octal value: 0 (none)
    --x :   binary value:   001,  octal value: 1 (execute)
    -w- :   binary value:   010,  octal value: 2 (write)
    -wx :   binary value:   011,  octal value: 3 (write, execute)
    r-- :   binary value:   100,  octal value: 4 (read)
    r-x :   binary value:   101,  octal value: 5 (read, execute)
    rw- :   binary value:   110,  octal value: 6 (read, write)
    rwx :   binary value:   111,  octal value: 7 (read, write, execute)

    # Generating a "Boot Complete" broadcast

    This is relevant for apps that implement a BootListener. Test your app by killing your app and then test with:

    adb shell am broadcast -a android.intent.action.BOOT_COMPLETED -c android.intent.category.HOME -n your.app/your.app.BootListener

    (replace your.package/your.app.BootListener with proper values).

    # View external/secondary storage content

    View content:

    adb shell ls \$EXTERNAL_STORAGE
    adb shell ls \$SECONDARY_STORAGE

    View path:

    adb shell echo \$EXTERNAL_STORAGE
    adb shell echo \$SECONDARY_STORAGE

    # kill a process inside an Android device

    Sometimes Android's logcat is running infinitely with errors coming from some process not own by you, draining battery or just making it hard to debug your code.

    A convenient way to fix the problem without restarting the device is to locate and kill the process causing the problem.

    From Logcat

    03-10 11:41:40.010 1550-1627/? E/SomeProcess: ....

    notice the process number: 1550

    Now we can open a shell and kill the process. Note that we cannot kill root process.

    adb shell

    inside the shell we can check more about the process using

    ps -x | grep 1550

    and kill it if we want:

    kill -9 1550

    # Syntax

    • adb shell [-e escape] [-n] [-Tt] [-x] [command]

    # Parameters

    Parameter Details
    -e choose escape character, or "none"; default '~'
    -n don't read from stdin
    -T disable PTY allocation
    -t force PTY allocation
    -x disable remote exit codes and stdout/stderr separation