How to Enable USB Debugging Mode on Android

Plus what you can do in debug mode

A laptop, a smartphone, a tablet, and a cup of coffee sit on table.

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There are many reasons to enable USB debugging on your Android device. For example, it allows you to sideload apps from outside of the official Google store via your computer. It's also possible to install custom ROMs, transfer data between devices, and recover bricked phones or tablets in debug mode.

Information in this article applies broadly to all smartphones and tablets running Android 9.0 Pie, Android 8.0 Oreo, and Android 7.0 Nougat.

What Is USB Debugging?

Debug mode allows users to access the inner workings of their Android device on a computer via a USB connection. Turning on USB debugging is required to use the Android software develop kit (SDK), which programmers use to build and test new apps. It also permits users to send advanced commands to their phones from their computers with the Android Debug Bridge (ADB).

That said, there are several reasons why average users would want to enable debug mode. For example, you can:

In older versions of Android, enabling debug mode was a prerequisite for capturing screenshots, but taking screenshots on Android is now much simpler.

How to Enable USB Debugging on Android

Enabling debug mode requires access to the developer options menu, which is hidden in your system settings.

  1. Open your device's Settings and tap About phone or About tablet.

    Open your device's Settings and tap About phone or About tablet.
  2. Tap Build number repeatedly until you see a notification that reads "You are now a developer."

    Tap Build number repeatedly until you see a notification that says You are now a developer.
  3. Go back to the main Settings menu, then tap Developer options.

    Go back to the main Settings menu, then tap Developer options.

    If using Android Pie, you must tap Advanced options to reveal the Developer options.

  4. Tap the toggle switch in the top-right corner to enable developer options (if it's not already enabled).

    Tap the switch in the top-right corner to enable developer options.
  5. Tap OK to confirm.

    Tap OK to confirm.
  6. Tap the USB debugging toggle switch.

    Tap the switch beside USB debugging.
  7. Tap OK to confirm.

    Tap OK to confirm.
  8. The next time you plug your device into a computer, you'll receive a prompt asking if you want to authorize USB debugging for that computer. Tap OK to confirm.

If your PC doesn't detect your Android device, you may need to download the appropriate device driver.

How to Disable USB Debugging on Android

To turn off USB debugging, return to the Developer options menu and tap the USB debugging toggle switch again.

To reset which computer can access your Android device in debug mode, return to the Developer options menu and tap Revoke USB debugging authorizations.

To reset which computers can access your Android device in debug mode, return to the Developer options menu and tap Revoke USB debugging authorizations.

Security Risks of USB Debugging

Putting your device in debug mode leaves it more vulnerable to malware and outside attacks. For this reason, you'll receive a security prompt each time you connect your device to a new PC. Avoid plugging your device into public charging ports or using public Wi-Fi networks with debug mode enabled.

If you lose your device with debug mode turned on, a tech savvy thief could access your personal data without knowing your passwords. Therefore, you should always turn off debugging when you don't need it.

For extra security, set up the Find My Device feature, which allows you to locate your device or erase its data remotely if it's ever lost or stolen.

Android Debugging Apps

There are apps available in the Google Play store that purportedly make it easier to enable USB debugging; however, considering how simple the process already is, there's no reason to download an app for this purpose.

How to Enable USB Debugging With a Broken Screen

If your Android's touchscreen is broken, yet you can still see the display, it may be possible to use a mouse to activate debug mode, provided your device supports On-The-Go (OTG) technology. If it does, connect a mouse via an OTG cable to navigate your device settings without using the touch screen.