How to use Android recovery mode

ANDROID RECOVERY MODE is a tool that can help you fix problems with your Android devices. It starts in recovery mode and then you can fix your problems.

Most people never need to use it, but there are some situations where it can bring a broken Android device back to life. If your Android phone is stuck in a boot cycle, hangs before you can uninstall a problematic app or access settings, or is infected with malware that you can’t remove, recovery mode is worth it. Here’s how, in a few easy steps.

How to enter recovery mode
The method of entering recovery mode differs slightly from device to device. We will go over the instructions for some recent popular Android phones. If yours is not listed or if it is an older model, you can probably find a guide on the manufacturer’s website or your supplier’s website.

Always charge your device fully first, then press and hold the power button and tap Power off.

On Google Pixel phones:

1. Press and hold the Power and Volume Down buttons for a few seconds and release them when you see a triangle with an exclamation point on the screen.
2. Use the volume down button to cycle through the options until you find the recovery mode and press the power button to charge.
3. If you see an Android mascot on the back with the words No command, you need to press and hold the power button, press the volume up button once, and then release both buttons.
4. You should see the recovery menu now and you can use the volume buttons to highlight the options and the power button to activate them.

On Samsung Galaxy phones:

Connect a USB-C cable to your phone and connect it to your computer.
Press and hold the power and volume up buttons together for a few seconds and release them when you see the Samsung logo and feel a vibration. If your phone has a Bixby button, you must also press and hold it.
You should briefly see the Android pet on the screen before the recovery menu appears, and you can use the volume buttons to highlight options and the power button to activate them.
On Motorola phones:

Press and hold the volume down button and hold it, then also hold the power button for a few seconds, then release it when you see the Android pet on the back of the screen.
Use the volume down button to cycle through the options until you find the recovery mode and press the power button to charge it.
If you see an Android mascot on the back with the words No command, you need to hold down the power button, press the volume up button once, and then release both buttons.
You should see the recovery menu now and you can use the volume buttons to highlight the options and the power button to activate them.
On OnePlus phones:

Hold down the power and volume down buttons at the same time for a few seconds.
You may need to enter your PIN or password.
Choose your language.
You should see the recovery menu now and you can use the volume buttons to highlight options and the power button to select them.

Recovery mode options explained
Each Android device has a separate operating system recovery mode. Recovery mode has a menu of options, but most people will only be interested in the following three:

Reboot System Now – This will reboot your phone and load the normal operating system. You’ll select it when you’re done in recovery mode, but it’s worth trying once before a factory reset to confirm that your problem is still there.

Wipe cache partition – Temporary system files are stored here, but you won’t find the option to wipe data on all Android devices. Google changed the way it works with Android 7.0 Nougat by introducing built-in updates. Not all Android manufacturers support built-in updates, especially Samsung phones, so you’ll always see this option on a Galaxy S21, for example. If the option is present, give it a try. Select Reboot system now when done to see if it fixes your problem.

Wipe data / factory reset: As a last resort, you can use recovery mode to factory reset your Android phone, which will erase all apps, data, and files, including text messages and photos. Just know that you will lose everything that you have not backed up. If you use this method to erase your phone, you will need to sign in with your Google account during setup. If you can’t sign in with a Google account that was previously used on the phone, you won’t be able to use the phone at all. This theft protection function cannot be bypassed. Read our guide on factory resetting an Android phone for more information.

Recovery mode also offers options for people looking to install new firmware or custom ROMs on their device and allows you to run tests and install updates from a connected computer or card. The options vary from phone to phone, depending on the version of Android and the changes made by the manufacturer. Most of the following items are intended for developers. Ignore it unless you know what you are doing.

Reboot to bootloader – This will take you back to the bootloader menu, where you can access recovery mode and other options.

Enter fastboot: Only available on Pixel phones and a handful of other devices, fastboot is a tool that allows developers to send commands from a computer to an Android device. Requires the Android SDK (Software Development Kit).

Apply ADB update: ADB stands for Android Debug Bridge, another tool used by developers to send commands from a computer. You need to install the Android SDK and you can read more about it on the official Android developer website.

Apply update from SD card: This is to install Android firmware from SD card.

Mount / System: This gives you access to the main files and folders that are generally inaccessible. You can mount a partition to view and edit data.

View recovery logs – View technical logs that list recovery mode events and actions.

Run a graphics test – This is for developers to test with the GPU (graphics processing unit).

Run Localization Test – This is another tool for app developers to test things related to language translation.

Power off: turn off the device.

Repair Apps – This option only seems to appear on Samsung phones and turns on app optimization. You may notice that “Application Optimization” sometimes appears on the screen after a software update; this allows you to activate the process manually and can help you if you have problems with specific applications.

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