How to root, unlock, flash and tweak any Nexus device


Gather round, gather round! Do you happen to own a relatively modern Nexus device? Great! Today, we'll be showing you how to very easily do a number of tweaks and changes on your Nexus smartphone or tablet with the use of a genius toolbox of magic and wizardry. We're, of course, talking about WugFresh's Nexus Root Toolbox -- likely the most thoroughly debugged, reliable, and newbie-friendly piece of software that helps you perform otherwise scary operations on your Nexus device. The toolbox has a simplistic and pleasant GUI, and supports a number of options, including: rooting and unlocking your Nexus, extensive and thorough back ups and restores (Nandroid), flashing of stock or any custom ROM and more. Best of all, the Nexus Root Toolbox can revert all these operations and bring your Nexus device back to its absolute and completely stock state, should you wish so. As always, performing such operations should be handled with care, but we can vouch for the reliability of this software -- we've used it with a number of Nexus devices, running different versions of Android, and we never once ran into a problem due to a fault of the software. It truly is a polished gem -- a rarity in the world of Android.

But today won't be about teaching you how to flash a custom firmware -- the Nexus Root Toolbox is intelligent enough to guide you in baby steps, with thorough, correct and succinct directions and explanations that flow seamlessly and never try and get ahead of you before you're ready for the next step. Instead, we'll be spotlighting this great piece of code, and what you can accomplish with it. 

Download: Nexus Root Toolkit. There's currently support for the Samsung Nexus S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2012), Nexus 7 (2013) and Nexus 10.

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30 Comments

1. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Yea, download the tool kit and click as it tells you to...don't need more than that line and a link to the tool kit.

24. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

Obviously, the credit goes to the developer, WugFresh, for his hard work. This, and many other pieces on the side, are often published with one simple purpose: discover-ability. It's a great tool, and more Nexus owners should know about it.

2. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2280; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

@Chris: so, by backing up app data, does that include all chat history from Whatsapp/Viber/Kik/etc?

3. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Yes. 5char

5. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2280; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

(y) You've rooted phones before. Did you manage to back up app data before the data has been wiped?

9. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Of course. This is probably the best app for backing up app data (non-rooted phones) - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=mobi.infolife.appbackup Once rooted, download Titanium Backup and you'll realize what you've been missing all this time.

12. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2280; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

I mean the app data of the app (before/in the process of rooting), not the apk files. Not going to use Helium.

13. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Yes, app data. That isn't helium btw. It's a totally different app. The recent reviews speak for itself. For backing up messages and such, other alternatives are Avast's backup app, which is phenomenal or My Backup by Rerware.

14. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2280; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Are you sure? "*** Notice: App Backup cannot backup data or settings of apps for you, but it only backup the apk files."

16. Killertech2099

Posts: 148; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Then use my backup i just got my white nexus 5 today, i use it, you can back it up on their site or if you have a meenova back it up to that

18. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2280; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Need root to backup app data. I'm asking, were you able to save app data in the process of rooting?

21. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

No. You have to back everything up before you root. Once you root, it's best you do a factory reset to have the device running fluid without any problems occurring. Once you flash a custom ROM, you'll see why millions of people choose to root. Apps to download once you root: 1) Titanium Backup - Backs up EVERTHING 2) Greenify - Stops background processes for battery/memory hogging apps (Facebook, Maps, etc.) 3) ROM Manager - Download, backup, and flash ROMS 4) Goo Manager - Wider selection of ROMs for free, does the same as RM 5) AdAway (red symbol with a bird) - blocks all ads on any site, including this one [you'll need it]) 6) Root Uninstaller - Uninstall ANY app on the device, including carrier and OEM bloatware 7) SetCPU - Over/underclock CPU and GPU to either increase performance or battery life Sorry for the late response. If you want info, I could give you my email.

23. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2280; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

It's for the non Nexus device that I'm going to root (some day). Thanks for the info. If I need more info I'll respond to one of your recent comments. (y)

25. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Titanium Backup does what Root Uninstaller does and will even freeze it for you - now, when you go to do an update, you will need it back on the device. SetCPU, Greenify not really necessary anymore. What you do after you unlock the bootloader and root the device is to replace the kernel with Bricked Hammerhead kernel, found on XDA Developers. I get 2-4 days of normal use with it...very awesome.

28. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Sorry, I meant restore it - if you mod the device and try to install an update, it will fail - best to go to XDA and flash a stock rom, or an updated stock rom, as Google releases the updates. You can also flash the update using the cmd window and Android SDK.

29. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Can't give up Greenify. It actually works. ExposedInstaller will be your best friend when you have toot too, especially if you love tweaking the hell out of your phone. Changing the kernel is pretty much necessary, but I wouldstrongly advise using a step-by-step guide if you don't know what you're doing. No one wants to have their phones softbricked (it's not fun).

4. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

That's the idea. Though if you want to keep your downloaded images, you'll likely have to backup your media folder, too. Or just pull it to your PC.

6. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2280; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

(y)..

10. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

It's better to just upload photos to Dropbox since it can be accessed anywhere and can be used as an application on PC or Mac.

7. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

Nice helpful article. Thanks Chris.

8. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Tool kits, while handy are not suggested for Nexi folk, or why the freak by a nexi? As they usually Bork something, then can be clueless trying to repair it because they have no idea what their doing. Fastboot OEM unlock. Or go home.

11. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I plan on rooting my N7 (2012) that I have since I have hours before my classes start. Helllloooooo Superuser and CM11!

15. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

Done already! Bot my N7 (2013) and my N5. But I keep stock.

19. apple4never

Posts: 1064; Member since: May 08, 2013

can this be used on a mac or is it windows only?

20. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Windows only.

22. apple4never

Posts: 1064; Member since: May 08, 2013

shoot. thanks though

26. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

I used this app as well as Skipsoft and for some reason it never recognized my phone, however, I updated the MTP driver manually, and then I found this:http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2507905 That info righ there is how I unlocked the bootloader and rooted my phone, as well as installed TWRP recovery. Then I installed Flashify, which will let you install and back up boot, recover images and kernel as well as install any zip file. The app called Nexus 5 App was interesting as it has several links to mods for the Nexus 5, and I used that app in conjunction with Flashify to mod the phone. But, the two are convenient, not necessary.

27. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Another app is APP OPS - great software for removing permissions of any app. Power Toggles adds a row of icons to the notification drop down - can include flashlight, data off/on, sound, etc - very useful. Font installer is a another great app - self explanatory there. Also, get the third party app, Lucky Patcher, as it really does get rid of in game ads, such as the ones found in Angry Birds.

30. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

My Moto X comes in today (can't wait) so I'm rooting it and starting all over. Still keeping my beast Note 3 though. I'll check out everything, though Lucky Patcher can be replaced with AdAway also. Also, BeatsInstaller (I actually did notice a difference, depending on the build version of the apk) was installed every time I rooted phones.

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