How to Enable Developer Mode on Android

This useful Android mode isn't just for developers!

Developer mode enabled on an Android phone.

Jeremy Laukkonen 

Android is an incredibly flexible smartphone operating system. It's designed to work just fine out of the box, and most users won't ever have to dig into any of the advanced options. If you do ever need to tweak anything, or you want to run an app that requires advanced permissions, you can activate developer mode.

When you enable developer mode on Android, you gain access to all sorts of information, settings, and options that are usually hidden.

These instructions apply to smartphones running Android Pie (9), Android Oreo (8), and Android Nougat (7).

What Is Android Developer Mode for, and Who Needs It?

Developer mode is designed primarily for Android developers. It exposes options and settings that developers need access to when testing new apps. Average users usually don't have any need to access these options, which is why the mode is turned off by default.

Even though developer mode is designed for developers, it isn't just for developers, and it has uses that extend far beyond app development and testing.

Enabling developer mode gives you access to a screen recorder, exposes settings to increase animation speeds and boost high-end game performance, and is a prerequisite for rooting your phone or installing a custom operating system.

Even something as simple as spoofing your GPS location, or fooling apps into thinking you're somewhere that you aren't, requires you to enable developer mode. For example, if you want to spoof your GPS in Pokemon Go, you need to enable developer mode.

If you install an app, and it prompts you to enable developer mode for the app to function, you will have to choose between either activating developer mode or just not using the app. Before you proceed, make sure that you obtained the app from a trusted source, like Google Play, and that the app isn't malware.

How to Enable Android Developer Mode

Enabling developer mode on Android is a straightforward process. All you have to do is locate the menu where your phone's build number is displayed, and then tap the build number until developer mode activates. It's also an entirely reversible process, so you can always disable developer mode later if you change your mind.

If you're ready to enable developer mode, here's how to do it:

  1. Navigate to Settings > About phone.

    Screenshots of an Android device.

    These instructions are for a phone running stock Android. Modified Android versions may have to navigate to Settings > About device, or Settings > About > Software information > More or other similar options.

  2. Scroll down until you locate the Build number section.

    Screenshots of Android phone settings.
  3. Tap the Build number until you see a message that says You are now a developer!

    Screenshots of an Android phone with developer mode being activated.

    You typically won't receive any feedback after the first few taps. Keep tapping, and you'll eventually see a message that says, "You are now x steps away from being a developer." Before you can complete the process, your phone may prompt you for your PIN.

  4. When you see the message that says you are a developer, that means you have successfully turned on developer mode. If you were trying to install or use an app that requires developer mode, you can return to that app and should have access to all of the exclusive developer options.

How to Access Developer Mode Options on Android

In some cases, activating developer mode isn't enough. For instance, if you're trying to spoof your GPS, you need to make additional changes in the developer options menu after you have enabled developer mode. Luckily, you can easily access the developer options menu from the system menu on your phone.

If an app requires developer mode, and it's a trusted app, then turning developer mode on is generally safe. However, activating and changing various developer options, without understanding what you're doing, can have unwanted effects. Only use the developer options menu if you know what you're doing, or you're very carefully following the instructions provided by an app that requires you to change a setting.

  1. Navigate to Settings > System.

    Screenshots of an Android device.
  2. Tap Advanced, then tap Developer options.

    Screenshots of Android phone settings.
  3. With the developer options menu open, you'll have some access to information about your phone that you wouldn't otherwise see, and you'll also have the ability to activate a variety of advanced options. If you're not sure what you're doing, leave these options alone.

How to Disable Developer Mode on Android

The only real consequence of activating developer mode is that it provides you with additional settings and options that you can tweak. You can safely leave this mode on, even if you aren't using it for anything.

If you decide that you would rather not have developer mode enabled, you can disable it from the developer options menu.

  1. Navigate to Settings > System, and tap Advanced.

  2. Tap Developer options, then tap the toggle at the top of the Developer options screen.

    Screenshots showing how to disable developer options.
  3. If you do it right, the toggle will slide to the left, and the text at the top of the page will change from On to Off.

  4. You can re-enable developer mode at any time by navigating to Settings > About phone and tapping Build number until it activates.