How to Use Android Recovery Mode

Holding the power button and one of the volume buttons gets you started on the road to recovery

What to Know

  • Most Androids: Hold Power and Volume Down buttons, then select Recovery Mode.  
  • Samsung: Power and Volume Up buttons, or the Power, Volume Up, and Bixby buttons.
  • Once in Recovery Mode: Navigate via the Volume buttons and select using the Power button.

This article explains how to use Android Recovery Mode, including instructions for accessing Recovery Mode on a variety of Android devices and an explanation of what the mode lets you do.

How to Use Android Recovery Mode

Recovery Mode is a tool included with Android devices that lets you troubleshoot and fix a variety of problems that can’t be dealt with in other ways. This mode also allows you to factory reset your Android device. It’s accessed by pressing a specific combination of physical buttons on the phone or tablet when the phone is off, which causes the phone to start up in a special mode.

The default key combination for entering Android Recovery mode is to push and hold the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time while the phone is off, but some manufacturers use different buttons. This will typically open what's known as the bootloader which will allow you to select Recovery Mode from a list of options.

After the reboot, the device loads a very basic text interface instead of the normal Android interface you normally use. The Recovery Mode screen will typically include some information about your device and version of Android along with a number of troubleshooting and repair options.

To navigate through the bootloader and Recovery Mode options, push Volume Down to highlight the next item in the list and Volume Up to highlight the previous item. Once you have highlighted the option you want, push the Power button to select it.

You may see slightly different options in Recovery Mode depending on the make and model of your phone, but these are the most common ones.

Some of the things you can do with Android Recovery mode include:

  • Reboot: This option reboots your Android device. After rebooting, it will load the normal Android interface instead of Recovery Mode. Use this option if you entered Recovery Mode accidentally, or if you’re done using it.
  • Wipe cache partition: If your phone uses a cache partition, particularly when updating the operating system, you can use this option to clear it out. This will free up storage space and can also fix some problems.
  • Reboot to bootloader: This option returns you to the bootloader, which is the screen where you opted to open Recovery Mode. Use this option if you opened Recovery Mode on accident and wanted a different option.
  • Enter fastboot: This option is primarily used for developers, so you typically won’t need to use it. It’s only useful if your phone is connected to a computer that has the Android software development kit (SDK) installed.
  • Apply update: If you need to install an Android update from an SD card or a connected PC, use this option.
  • Factory reset: This option wipes all of the data from your phone and restores it to its factory original state. When it finishes, your apps and data will be gone, and your phone will have the version of Android that it originally came with.
  • Mount: Advanced users can use this option to access files that aren’t usually accessible.
  • Recovery logs: This provides you with access to a list of events in recovery mode. While this information is unlikely to be useful to the average user, you may be able to share these logs with a professional to receive additional assistance in fixing a problem.
  • Graphics test: Developers use this option to test the graphics processing unit (GPU) of the phone.
  • Locale test: Developers use this to test their apps with different language and localization settings.
  • Repair apps: If you see this option, you can use it to fix problems with some apps.
  • Power off: This option turns your phone off. Once it has turned off, you can use the power button to turn it back on.

How to Enter Android Recovery Mode

Here’s how to enter Android Recovery mode on a Pixel phone and any phone that doesn’t have its own proprietary method:

  1. Turn your phone off.

  2. Push and hold the Power and Volume Up buttons until the bootloader screen appears.

    If you hold the buttons too long, the phone will reboot and load Android normally. If that happens, go back to step 1.

  3. Use the Volume buttons to select Recovery Mode.

  4. With Recovery Mode selected, push the Power button.

  5. When you see “No command,” press and hold the Power button, then tap Volume Up.

  6. Release the Power button, and your phone will launch Recovery Mode.

    The power button on an Android phone acting as an input button, in this case as a Start button for Android Recovery Mode.

    The timing of tapping Volume Up and releasing Power can be tricky, so try again if it doesn't work the first time.

How to Enter Android Recovery Mode on Samsung Devices

Some Samsung devices use this method instead of the standard way of entering recovery mode:

  1. Turn the device off.

  2. Press and hold Power and Volume Up (Galaxy S20, Note 20), or Power, Volume Up, and Home/Bixby (S10, Note 10, and older).

  3. Release the buttons when you see the Samsung logo.

How to Enter Android Recovery Mode on HTC Devices

Some Motorola devices use this method to enter recovery mode:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Battery, and deselect Fastboot.

  2. Turn the device off.

  3. Push and hold Volume Down and Power.

  4. Depending on the model, you may need to select Reboot to Bootloader, or the bootloader may open automatically.

  5. Select Recovery from the bootloader.

  • How do I get out of Android Recovery Mode?

    If you are in Android Recovery Mode, use the volume buttons to navigate to Reboot now and press the power button to select it. Your phone will now reboot back into whichever version of Android you have installed.

  • Does Android Recovery Mode erase everything on my phone?

    No. Entering Android Recovery Mode does not erase everything unless you select Factory reset. Android Recovery Mode's main purpose is to troubleshoot a phone and while a factory reset is part of troubleshooting, you have to manually select that in order for the phone to be erase.

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