How to Enable Developer Mode on Android

This useful Android mode isn't just for developers.

Developer mode enabled on an Android phone.

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen 

Android is a flexible mobile operating system that's designed to work out of the box. Most users will never have to dig into its more advanced options, but if you ever need to tweak the OS, or if you want to run an app that requires advanced permissions, you can activate the developer mode.

When you enable the 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 10, Android Pie (9), Android Oreo (8), and Android Nougat (7).

What Is Android Developer Mode, and Who Needs It?

Developer mode is designed primarily for Android developers. It reveals 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 creation 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, you will have to choose between activating developer mode or 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.

Here's how to turn on Android developer mode:

  1. Navigate to Settings > System > 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 similar instructions.

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

    Screenshots of Android phone settings.
  3. Select 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 likely will not 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 ask 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 is 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 if you're carefully following instructions provided by such an app.

  1. Navigate to Settings > System.

    Screenshots of an Android device.
  2. Select Advanced, then select Developer options.

    Screenshots of Android phone settings.
  3. With the developer options menu open, you'll have access to information about your phone that you would not otherwise see. You will also have the ability to activate a variety of advanced options.

How to Disable Developer Mode on Android

You can safely leave developer 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 select Advanced.

  2. Select Developer options, then select the "On" toggle at the top of the Developer options screen.

    Screenshots showing how to disable developer options.
  3. 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.