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How to Root Your Android Device & Why You Might Want To

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You’ve probably heard of people “rooting” their Android phones. If you’ve ever wondered how to do that yourself – or wondered why people would bother – you’re in luck. You can root your Android in just a few minutes.

After rooting your device, you have full access to the entire system and can run special types of apps that require root permissions. These apps can disable bloatware, control app permissions, enable tethering, and do lots of other cool things.

What is “Root,” Anyway?

Android is based on Linux. On Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems, the root user is equivalent to the Administrator user on Windows. The root user has access to the entire operating system and can do anything. By default, you don’t have root access to your Android device, and certain apps won’t function without root access.

With root access, you can disable the bloatware that comes with your phone, manually deny app permissions, run a firewall, access the entire file system, or tether your device, even if tethering functionality has been disabled. You’ll find many apps that require root access in the Google Play store (formerly known as the Android Market), although they won’t function until you root your device.

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Rooting isn’t mandatory – you only need to root your device if you want to do things that require root access.

Warnings

Before you root your Android phone or tablet, there are a few things you should be aware of:

Warranty – Some manufacturers assert that rooting voids your device’s warranty. However, rooting will not actually damage your hardware. You can “unroot” your device and manufacturers won’t be able to tell if it’s been rooted.

Security – Google Wallet, in particular, has a vulnerability on rooted devices that could allow other apps to access your PIN and other wallet information.  Google Wallet displays a warning message if you run it on a rooted device. If you’re one of the few people using Google Wallet for NFC payments, you may want to reconsider rooting your device.

Bricking – Rooting a device is a very safe process. However, there’s always some danger of “bricking” a device when you go outside the normal parameters and hack around with it — particularly if you’re trying to root a device or operating system version not supported by a tool. “Bricking” refers to breaking the device, making it about as useful as a brick. When you root, jailbreak, or install a custom ROM, or otherwise hack around, you do so at your own risk. It’s a good idea to do a little bit of research first and see if other people report success rooting your device.

Setup

The actual rooting process itself should only take a single click. However, you’ll need to do a few quick things first:

Download and install the Java JDK and Android SDK on your computer before continuing. Java must be installed before the Android SDK.

Enable USB debugging on your Android. On the device, go into the Settings screen, tap Applications, tap Development, and enable the USB debugging check box.

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Connect your Android to your computer using its included USB cable. Don’t mount the device’s SD card on your computer – just plug it in.

You’ll also need the USB drivers for your phone or tablet installed. SuperOneClick itself should be able to automatically install the appropriate drivers – however, if this fails, you’ll need to download and install the appropriate drivers from the device manufacturer’s website.

Rooting With SuperOneClick

We’ll be rooting with SuperOneClick here. It’s a single-click way to root that supports a wide variety of different devices and should work for most people. If SuperOneClick doesn’t support your Android device, head over to the Android Development and Hacking forums at XDA Developers. There are subforums for most Android devices – type your device’s name into the search box and you’ll probably find information from other people that have successfully rooted it, perhaps by using another tool.

You can find download links for SuperOneClick at shortfuse.org, SuperOneClick’s official website. After downloading it, run the SuperOneClick.exe application.

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Click the Root button in the SuperOneClick window and SuperOneClick should do the rest.

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The process will take a few minutes. If you run into a problem, you might want to check the XDA Developers forum for your device, which we mentioned above, or run a Google search.

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Restart your Android after rooting it.

Superuser

SuperOneClick automatically installs the SuperUser binary, which is also available from Google Play. Whenever an app on your device attempts to gain root permissions by calling the su command (just like calling the su command on Linux) you’ll be prompted to allow or deny the request.

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Open the Superuser app to control the saved permissions and configure Superuser.


Now you’re free to install and use apps that require root access. We’ll have more coverage of things you can do with a rooted Android in the near future.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 05/31/12

Comments (55)

  1. Kathy

    Would this be the same process for an Android Tablet?
    Cheers,

  2. Kathy

    Ooops, yes I see it is. Just kept seeing references to the phones…

  3. TechGeek01

    I have been meaning to post a rooting article on my blog for quite some time. However, I’d like to point out that the process for a Kndle Fire is quite different. For that, you only need the latest version of the Kindle Fire Utility. Run through the prompts, and your Kindle Fire will be rooted, and a recovery tool and bootloader will be installed. From here, you can optionally flash a new ROM of a different version of Android by bootng into TWRP.

  4. mitcoes

    Does it work with wine?

    Are there other procedure fron GNU/Linux, at least Ubuntu?

    And of course for OSX?

  5. john

    which version of java do i need to download?

  6. thegeekkid

    @mitcoes… What are you talking about??? You don’t root Linux, Ubuntu or OSX… those are computers and you just use the admin account! Rooting is for anything with an Android OS… not for a computer OS.

    That being said… has anyone successfully rooted an Archos 5 internet tablet? From what I have found, they are un-rootable. (Yes I have tried this method before.)

  7. Lparker

    I’ve been rooting and installing custom roms on multiple Android devices for a few years now, had my brand spanking new Sony xperia x10 rooted the second day I owned back in early 2009 and now running ics 4.0.4 on my Samsung infuse which was never meant to have ice cream sandwich released for it officially, your best bet for anything related to toying with your Droid is the forums at xda.com, just READ carefully and fully follow the instructions and you will be fine there are instructions for most phones under most PC operating systems good luck and have fun

  8. anon

    Doesn’t work with ICS…

  9. John

    SuperOneClick does not work with Android 2.3.6. At least not with the Samsung Infuse. It worked before I updated to Gingerbread but not after. In order to root it after the update I had to install a “pre-rooted” rom. More work and I had to reinstall all my apps and settings.

  10. Elliot

    Does rooting sutomatically change the basic user interface? In other words, when my phone restarts after the root, will the screen look basically the same?
    Does this work with HTC Evo 4G?
    Has anyone successfully unrooted an HTC Evo 4G?
    Thanks

  11. Todd

    Which version of Java is needed? http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/downloads/index.html
    Do you download the Java and the Android SDK to your android phone or to your personal computer?
    Don’t mount the device’s SD card on your computer – just plug it in? How would you even mount your internal SD card to your computer anyway?
    Your instructions are a little vague. Help?

  12. Jimmupp

    Rooting an android tablet is much more complicated that the instructions you provide.
    Each device has it’s own rooting requirements, and you must be very careful when using them.

    As ‘Lparker’ states above, XDA.com does have a lot of information available on rooting, however much of
    it is difficult to understand and does not apply to all tablets.. There are a lot of other web sites that claim they can show you how to root your tablet, but it depends on the device. Also the files necessary for the rooting process seem to change frequently and it can get very frustrating.
    I’ve been looking for a way to root my Acer A500 tablet for some time, and I am still not satisfied with the information I find. It is even more difficult, since I upgraded to ICS 4.03.
    It’s a jungle out there.

  13. CompWiz

    (SuperOneClick) The site is temporarily unavailable for we are making some important upgrades to its parts.

    We apologize for the inconvenience. We’ll have it back online for you as soon as possible.

    If the page is unavailable for long time please inform us about it here.

  14. Bart

    Rooted in 5 min – One S tmous.

    thanks!

  15. phillip

    Download site is unavailable as of 5/31/2012 – 12:00noon EST.

  16. Vysakh

    Rooted my HTC Flyer 3G (android 2.3.4) and modified /system/build.prop. Now I can use my tablet as a phone also. But a wired or a wireless earphone is required.

  17. Shamrock

    I’ve had my android phone for a year an a half now and I’ve tried all sort of step-by-step rooting methods. None of them worked…untill now!!!!!
    Thanks a million guys!

  18. Johnpenn

    There is many phones and many different ways to root them. They all don’t work you need to research your phone and see what works for it. Learn the difference between ROOT And FLASHING recoverys ROMs even Themes. ROOTING a phone changes the permissions and adds an SU App that’s all. This allows you to flash a new ROM like CM7 or CM9 etc. Just measure twice b4 you cut.

  19. ConanWPB

    Doesn’t work… stops at Step 7 and hangs.

  20. AmyHam

    Has anyone found a way to root via Mac? I am on Android 2.36, on my Google Nexus One. I have not yet come across any successful wait to root my 2 year-old phone.

  21. C.Littlej

    Could you guys make an “How to install custom rom” Guide, please?

  22. Jester

    Great info! So what if we want to unroot our Android? Could you make an article on that?

  23. unified

    Can I root my HTC incredible S which is locked at this moment. I heard HTC is the toughest one. Pls reply with true experience

  24. DSiDewd

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=833953 This app allows you to root Android 2.2 through the phone itself. It gives a virus warning in Kaspersky because of the exploit it uses to root it. You can even add it to your Dropbox and open the .apk through the Dropbox app, so you don’t even need to touch your SD Card!

  25. PhantomTurtle

    @thegeekkid – SuperOneClick is a Windows program and will not run on Linux. mitcoes is wondering if there is a another way to do this using a Linux computer rather than a Windows computer. So is there a way to do by connecting my android to my Linux computer?

  26. Neil Anderson

    I agree with Jimmuup, I at first got excited about finally having a simple way to root my Android HTC Desire, and what I found out 3 hours later (I am NOT blaming HTG) through the links ect, was a convoluted process that with each turn was pages and pages of coding, precautionaries (gold card development), and finally at the end, my OS version had not yet been hacked. BTW I have had this HTC Desire for over a year (it was on special with ATT) and if figured some jolt soda swallowing 14-year old would have figured it out already to ‘give it to the man (att)’ but alas no one has.

    So I say all this to say… this or the execellent resource links do not work for the HTC Desire 4G by ATT, and your stuck with the nagware apps, not being able to use an atomic clock, and not being able to use the Avast Firewall…. Thanks HTG for helping the rest of us… and look forward to future updates!

  27. Kyle

    I have a rooted Galaxy S, Bionic, and Archos tablet. The main reason I root is to do WiFi tethering and use Titanium Backup to freeze and uninstall all of Verizon bloat ware. There’s also some apps that will only run on rooted phones.

  28. Kmot

    Like ‘Todd’ asked above, I could not figure out if the Java JDK and Android SDK are supposed to be loaded into the phone or just the PC. So I went ahead and installed them on my PC, not knowing what else to do. I then installed and ran Super One Click and it asked about ‘force installing drivers’ and so I clicked yes. It then asked to re-connect the device, so I unplugged the USB cable and the plugged back in and the program took off running. After a few minutes it said ‘congratulations, enjoy your new rooted phone’.

    I downloaded and installed “Titanium Backup” and then using it I was able to remove some bloatware from my Samsung Exhibit II phone. Although it is now ‘rooted’ it seems to be acting like normal except that some of that hated bloatware junk is now gone! :)

  29. Chris Hoffman

    Rooting can definitely be more complicated than this process, although I’m glad it worked for many of you! If you have an unsupported device, I tried to include some tips in the article to get you started — the XDA Developers forums for your device are a great place to start. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much impossible to do a guide that works for every Android device ever released. At the very least, this should help readers understand what rooting is and how to go about it.

  30. Chris Hoffman

    @ConanWPB

    Try this is you’re stuck at step 7: Unplug your device, disable the usb debugging option, plug the device back in, unplug it again, re-enable the usb debugging option, plug it back in, and then try again.

    Sounds bizarre, right? I had the same problem with my current device and tracked this solution down online. I didn’t include it in the post because it seemed so bizarre and rare. Hopefully this will help someone!

  31. Dark Reality

    I think most users should ignore root unless they really feel they need it. You have to ask yourself, do I really need root?

    The coolest thing you can do with root, by a wide margin, is block ads. All of them. In apps and on the web. All this really does is modify your HOSTS file, but you need root for that, although with ADB, it may be possible to change the HOSTS file manually without rooting the phone. Not sure on that. If you’re one of those pro-advertisement people (maybe you run a blog and get paid for ads, and are sympathetic to others who do, too) you won’t care about this. For the other 99.99% of us, AdAway is awesome. Or AdFree. They both do roughly the same thing.

    Ad blocking is followed by Titanium Backup. Titanium is not free, but the free version basically works. For six bucks at the developer’s page you get a text file to put on your SD card that unlocks it. You can pay a little more on Google Play, but then you have to make sure to download the key “App”, which is stupid. You can always download the latest Titanium on the developer’s site. Put it in your Dropbox or Google Drive folder and let it sync over to your phone. Titanium will back up every app and its data, as well as all your system settings. So if you need to factory reset, you just back up first, then when you restore, just install Titanium from the SD card and restore everything. As stated above, Titanium can also remove system apps. It can also integrate updates of system apps (e.g. Gmail) into the ROM, so you don’t have two copies (the latest in Data, and the one that came with the ROM in System).

    If all of this goes over your head, don’t feel bad. A good Android phone can be pretty great without being rooted. Here’s something you can do if you’re not rooted. Look up Notification Toggle in Google Play. You may have seen Android phones where you pull down the notification bar and you can turn WiFi or Bluetooth on and off, change the phone’s volume or brightness, or disable auto rotation. If your phone doesn’t have that feature, Notification Toggle will add it and you can customize what toggles you get. And you don’t even need root.

    The coolest thing to do however is not rooting, it’s flashing. Flashing new ROMs, that is. Motorola is lazy as hell and isn’t updating my phone to Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) until 2013. Or never, if you believe the Mayans (I don’t, just being funny). Well, I have it now. I had it 2 weeks before the Google Nexus owners on Verizon got it. And the Nexus is supposed to get everything first. And I had it before them. But I don’t just have ICS, I have CyanogenMod 9. So it’s ICS plus a bunch of cool tweaks and extras. It comes rooted, and root can be disabled via the system settings.

    As for Java JDK and Android SDK, these are development kits. You would install them on your PC. There is no known condition where you would install them on your phone. That’s just daft, and those questions probably went unanswered for that reason alone. There’s also no reason to install either of them. I didn’t. They’re just for that Super One Click thing. Not every phone is supported by that. There are phones that can be rooted by downloading a small app to the phone and running it. There are phones that require you flash a file from the official uploader from *another* phone… those are fun! Haha. I’m not kidding, that’s how you used to have to root Samsungs.

  32. Budger

    Thanks alot for posting this.Helpful as always :)

  33. Chris Hoffman

    Yes, sorry about not answering that earlier — The Android SDK and Java JDK enable SuperOneClick to do its thing.

    @Dark Reality

    Thank you for chipping in and adding so much helpful information!

  34. elgranpagan

    As much as I appreciate how of HTGs articles give excellent information, this particular article is lacking explicit information. User above comments that the app hangs at step 7. Same thing happened to me. There is either no comment about that on the web, or too much stuff. And a lot of supposedly helpful commenters, reply back, arrogantly saying “research”. Granted that something like this should be researched. However, posting an article like this about how to root your device, should be much more explicit and may even warn users that this can fail and/or brick your phone. A lot of us out there are not quite as technical as some of you guys, and this is exactly why we go to these blogs – to get help – not to be intimidated.

    Fortunately, my phone is not bricked. But hanging at step #7 scared the crap out of me. I have a thunderbolt, with 2.3.4 OS, which I would like to root.

    I am thinking that something blocked it at step #7 – could be AV software on the laptop, could be ad blocker stuff on the phone, could be the verizon branded verzion of os 2.3,4. Dont know.

    I could really us some help here.

  35. Chris Hoffman

    @elgranpagan

    I responded with an answer that worked for me above:

    “Try this is you’re stuck at step 7: Unplug your device, disable the usb debugging option, plug the device back in, unplug it again, re-enable the usb debugging option, plug it back in, and then try again.

    Sounds bizarre, right? I had the same problem with my current device and tracked this solution down online. I didn’t include it in the post because it seemed so bizarre and rare. Hopefully this will help someone!”

    I don’t know if this will work on your device, though. I included some warnings in the post. The unfortunate thing is that there can never be a “how to root your android” generic post that will work for every device. Different manufacturers do all sorts of different things. You may try looking for a “How to Root Your Thunderbolt” article on the web — that will give you the device-specific information you need.

  36. david berry

    Has anyone had any luck getting the 1 click method to work in the HTC EVO 3d . I’m tired of waiting on Sprint for ics update .

  37. Irish_IT

    Anyone else lawl at the root exploit named “zergRush”??? hahaha well played SuperOneClick.

  38. Alonso

    I have a Motorola Titanium with Nextel witn Android 2.6. Sadly it is not compatible with my MacBook.
    Is there a way to root my phone? Apart from the obvious (getting a PC or an iPhone).

  39. jason

    I get to step 5 or step7, then one click stops responding and I have to exit out of it. I tried the unplug thing and it didn’t work HTC Evo 3D

  40. Jura

    Guys you need to google search for ‘how to root *phone model here*’. If you find that XDA Forums pops up then follow that guide implicitly. Only root your android if you are absolutely sure you want to and not to do it as simply… a challenge.
    Double check all the guides you come across and compare them to other guides. Finally choose the one with the most positive feedback. It took me 1 hour to root my android for the first time as I double checked every step I did knowing full well that one mistake will turn it into a brick. There are a lot more benefits to rooting your phone than suggested here as you have full control over your pocket linux PC. Dont worry about what Java or ROM to install as if you find a good guide then will automatically suggest the best for you. Dont try and be clever by installing better ROMs or mods than what your phone can handle. Trust me a lot of phones have been broken in the process to finding out what works great and what doesnt work at all.

  41. Bobpantsspongesquare

    Folks, seriously, this article really does not apply anymore. The majority of devices are running Gingerbread 2.3.6 which, as has been stated, is not supported by SuperOneClick which is not the preferred method to root a mobile device. The forums at xda-developers.com have tons of information on rooting and I highly recommend the bulk of you head there as most of the questions I am seeing give me reason to believe there are many over-priced paper weights in all of your futures. Do yourselves a favor, forums.xda-developers.com

  42. Raymond Duke

    The part where you explain “why you might want to” could have used more explaining.

  43. Jose

    hey.. if its not working, check out this post..
    http://techfond.com/how-to-rootflash-your-android-device-from-v2-2-to-v2-3/

    Seems pretty simple. Worked for me

  44. Diminuendo

    HTC Inspire 4G here, super one click said it worked, but I still didn’t have root access. Just throwing in my experience.

  45. play8oy

    hmm tried everything, always hangs on step #7….heading back to xda

  46. Petals19xoxo

    This has too many steps n sounds technically confusin…i just want screenshots????..n I dont wana risk my phone’s privacy doing it…invent an android capable

  47. kylep

    Will this work for my galaxy ace?

  48. Steve

    Hi,
    Hopefully someone will come to my aid here. I’m not a developer and frankly the java jargon and all the options only confuse me. I’m trying to root my phone (droid maxx) to use the new Google Now app and apparently this is one of a few apps that require the phone to be rooted. The first thing that is needed is Java JDK. What version, where do I go to get the appropriate version that can be loaded on my Mac Book OS is 10.6.8. Any help or shortcuts to get the phone rooted are GREATLY appreciated.
    Thanks

  49. Leo

    Can u guys please tell me if I can upgrade my LG Optimus Black to official ICS after rooting it?

  50. ASHU

    CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO ROOT YOUWAVE FOR ANDROID????????????????

  51. Freakicho

    Did anyone try this on a Galaxy Note with Ice Cream Sandwich?

  52. vishnu

    mobile
    9

  53. sperez

    @Chris_Hoffman Tried your fix for getting stuck on step 7, no luck. Any other ideas? Thanks for a great article!

  54. Puttar

    Will this procedure work on the LG Optimus Sol E730??

  55. Mobile app builder

    this is very nice one and gives in depth information. i think it will be helpful. thank you very much for that extraordinarily first class editorial! keep up the good work

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