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Home / Tips and Tricks / How to use Google's Android Flash tool to manually update your phone or recover from a soft brick «Android :: Gadget Hacks

How to use Google's Android Flash tool to manually update your phone or recover from a soft brick «Android :: Gadget Hacks

If you have ever tried manually updating your Android phone, you know that the process can be unnecessarily hard. There are so many steps and parts that if one thing goes wrong, the whole process doesn't work. In recognition of this, the Android team came up with an even simpler way.

With the new Android Flash utility, you can use your browser to update your phone. You do not need to use a command interpreter, install platform tools, or even unlock your bootloader in advance. The tool guides you through the process and automatically flashes the update – including developer pre-updates. In fact, if your phone is softly walled, it can even get you back and run with a few clicks.


Step 1: Enable USB debugging and OEM unlocking

First you need to enable Developer Options, the hidden settings menu which has two options we need for this to work. So open Settings, select "About Phone" and then press "Building Number" seven times (the one at the bottom of the page) and enter your password code when prompted.

Now, return to Settings, select "System" and then "Advanced." Open "Developer Options" and enable the switch next to "USB Troubleshooting" and then press "OK". If your bootloader is not already unlocked, you also enable the switch next to "OEM Unlocking". If your starting load is unlocked, this option is activated and greyed out.

Step 2: Installing Drivers (Windows Only)

If you are using a Windows computer, you must install driver software for your computer to recognize your phone correctly. If you are using macOS, Linux or Chrome OS, you can skip this step.

First, download the Google USB driver's ZIP file below and extract it anywhere on your computer (usually right-click -> Extract). [19659002] Now connect the phone to your computer and right click on the Start button and then select "Device Manager." Here, under "Portable Devices", "Other Devices" or "Universal Serial Bus Devices", right-click on your Google Pixel and select "Update Driver" and then select "Browse My Computer Software Driver".

If you do not see your phone in Device Manager, restart it and reconnect the USB cable. Picture of Dallas Thomas / Gadget Hacks

Now select "Browse" in prompt and then select the usb_driver folder that you extracted from ZIP and click "Next". Afterwards, you should see an instant message letting you know that the driver was installed correctly.

Step 3: Add a build and start flashing

Make sure Pixel is connected directly to your computer with a USB cable. Do not link to any USB hubs, adapters or monitors – connect directly to a USB port on the system board if possible.

Now visit one of the links below from your computer. If you choose the stable version (currently Android 10), select your carrier and then click "Get started" and select "OK" in the popup window. If you are installing beta (currently Android 11), select the link corresponding to your Pixel model under Android Flash Tool then click "Get Started" and "OK."

On the new page, select "Add new device" at the bottom.

Now select your connected device in the popup window.

Select "Connect", and you should see your device listed under "Inaccessible."

This message is because you must allow USB debugging, the instant message that has been displayed on your smartphone right now.

Press "Allow" directly and on your computer your device should now be listed under "Available" with a green "Connected" " under it. [19659027] How to use Google's Android Flash tool to manually update your phone or restore from a soft brick ” width=”532″ height=”532″ style=”max-width:532px;height:auto;”/>

Click on your device to move to the next page, which shows the current building you are trying to install. Once you have verified the build, select "Install."

In the last section, you will receive a few warnings that should be followed, minimizing your chance of encountering problems. Select "Confirm" after reviewing these warnings.

Now select "Allow" in the browser popup and request permission for the Android Flash tool to display notifications. On the new page titled "License 1 of 1", select "I accept."

After a series of reboots, your phone will restart with the new build, and Chrome will update its page with a message when done. Yes, it's really that simple!

Cover image by Jon Knight / Gadget Hacks

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