How-To Geek

How to Root Your Nexus Phone or Tablet


Use the Nexus Root Toolkit to quickly root your Nexus devices, whether you’ve got a Nexus 7, Galaxy Nexus, or even a Nexus S. Rooting allows you to use powerful apps that don’t work in Android’s default sandbox.

We’ve covered rooting Android before, and the method provided didn’t work for many users – it’s hard to give instructions that will work with all the Android devices out there. This method should work perfectly, but only with Nexus devices.

This process will wipe the data from your Nexus device, so you’ll have to back up and restore your data during the process. You’ll also unlock the Nexus device’s bootloader during this process, allowing the installation of custom ROMs.

Install the Nexus Root Toolkit

You can download the Nexus Root Toolkit, developed by WugFresh, here. Run the .exe file after downloading it to install it. The Nexus Root Toolkit will launch automatically after you install it. Select the device model and Android version you’re using.


If you’re not entirely sure of the device you’re using, open the Settings screen on your device and select About Tablet or About Phone.


Driver Installation

Ensuring your computer has the correct drivers so it can communicate with your Nexus can be one of the most complicated parts of rooting. The Nexus Root Toolkit includes automatic driver configuration – if that fails, it can walk you through the process of setting up drivers manually.

You’ll need USB debugging enabled on your Nexus to unlock and root it. Open the Settings screen, select Developer Options, set the slider at the top of the Developer Options screen to On and enable the USB debugging checkbox.


Click the Full Driver Installation Guide – Automatic + Manual button in the Nexus Root Toolkit window to get started.


Try the Automatic Driver Configuration button, assuming you’re using Windows 7 – ideally, this will take care of everything for you.


Connect your Nexus to your computer with its included USB cable when you’re prompted. After Windows finishes installing the drivers, click OK.


If this didn’t work, you’ll have to follow the steps in the Driver Setup window to configure your drivers manually. Complete each step in order, following the instructions – they’ll walk you through the process. Personally, I had to complete the manual driver setup, installing the Samsung drivers (the Nexus 7 is an ASUS device, but the Samsung drivers worked for me).

Back Up

This process will wipe your device, so you’ll probably want to back it up first. Click the Backup button to back up your device.


Click the Create Android Backup File button to create a backup file containing your apps and data. Tap the Back up button that appears on your device’s screen to continue.


You should also use the Backup data/media option to back up your device’s media files.


Unlock & Root

Once your Nexus is backed up, use the Unlock button to unlock your device. The unlock process wipes your device, so ensure you’re backed up before continuing!


You’ll be prompted on the Nexus to unlock the bootloader. After you agree, your bootloader will be unlocked and your Nexus will be wiped and reset to its factory state. You’ll have to go through the setup process on your Nexus and enable USB debugging mode again before continuing.

After you have, select Do not flash CWM unless you also want to flash ClockworkMod to your device, and then click the Root button.


Once the Root process completes, open the SuperSU app on your Nexus and update the SU binary.


Launch the BusyBox app, grant it root permissions, and tap the Install button. You’re now successfully rooted!


Restore from Backup

You’ll now probably want to restore your Nexus from the backups you took earlier. Click the Restore button.


Use the Restore Android Backup File and Restore data/media buttons, selecting the backup files you created earlier.


Tap the Restore my data button when the Full restore screen appears on your device. Agree and your apps and data will be restored.


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 07/31/12

Comments (10)

  1. Mark

    Great article on how to root your Nexus devices! Could you possible do an article about ClockworkMod and CyanogenMod. Would love to learn how this mod’s work and what is the best one.

  2. Chris Mallam

    Nice walkthru, thanks! None of the command prompt boxes opened on any of the three computers i tried (Win7/64, XP/32, Vista64) so i just played thru and it all worked. The two things i want that require root are to install my own hosts file, and to selectively enable/disable certain permissions per app (ie prevent a certain app from making phone calls, send SMS messages, etc. This last may only be a feature of Cyanogen which will come later.

  3. Rajat Patel

    Well, nice article! Really helpful for those who are completely unaware about Android. Though one thing I would love to have on How-To Geek is the rooting of the nexus devices through fastboot commands using CWM. It’s stupidly easy to do that via command line on a nexus device. Just boot the CWM and flash the superuser binary packed in zip via CWM. The benefit of this process is that you are completely aware of what you are doing and that really reduces the chances of getting your device bricked! Whereas in the case of Toolkit, you are not aware of the processes that are being carried out by such third party softwares and chances of messing things up are very high. Moreover it doesn’t make you learn anything!

  4. g!u£!0

    when I press full installation drive me out of the screen (checking status ADB) chedevo do, thanks.

  5. g!u£!0

    I have a Nexus S when I press (full installation drive) I get the screen (ADB checking status) that I do, thanks.

  6. Ryan

    Great walk thru….got my Nexus 7 yesterday and was rooted soon after following this. My only complaint is about the software used….there doesn’t seem to be an uninstall for the Nexus Root Toolkit.

  7. Dave

    Great writeup. I had problems with the Nexus 7 always showing as an MTP device in device managers but found (from a google search) that changing the tablet USB mode from the default MTP to PTP solved that and enabled the ADB drivers to work.
    To change the settings menu select ‘storage’ and then the 3dots top right give you the USB menu

  8. RRP

    Connecting Google Nexus 7 to Windows XP Laptop: Debuggin Mode Active and MTP Driver Required

    Antonio said this, and I replied below. Can someone post the required MTP driver?

    Antonio on August 17, 2012 at 3:32 pm said:
    Oooops: Media Transfer Protocol no longer available with WMP 11, and not downloadable from MS website (message: We are sorry, the page you requested cannot be found.).

    I can’t connect my new-bought Nexus to my PC XP.
    Maybe through a USB stick. Ah… no. ASUS has decided it was superfluous.

    Is there anyone who want to buy a second-hand 1 day old Nexus 7?

    RRP on August 22, 2012 at 9:10 pm said:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Antonio has it right, Microsoft took the MTP driver down. Can someone upload it. I think Google is fighting to keep people from rooting their Nexus 7 so a USB stick can be recognized using the mini USB port. Don’t be evil … Google.

  9. RRP

    I found out that I was not in fast boot mode … progress now

  10. al


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