How To Enable USB Debugging In Android

USB debugging is one of the developer features in Android that lets your phone or tablet communicate with a computer. Therefore, you’ll have to first enable the Developer mode before you get the option to turn it on.

Generally, Android developers utilize this feature to test their recently programmed applications. USB Debugging allows the transfer of programs from a PC to a hand-held device running the Android Software Developer Kit (SDK).

This doesn’t mean that normal users can’t take advantage of this hidden feature on their Android devices. Indeed, USB debugging comes in handy when you’re transferring files, pictures, or other documents. However, it’s wise to disable it once your work is done.

How Do I Enable USB Debugging on Android?

Enabling USB debugging is a sensitive action, which is also why some Android devices warn you beforehand. Once you’ve turned on the feature, the connected computer will gain access to all your files, install apps, record screens, and access your device information.

Keeping these things in mind, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to enable USB debugging. Most users or developers also utilize this when rooting an Android device. Also, this lets you record and take screenshots of your smartphone using any third-party tool.

Now that you’re aware of USB debugging let’s dive into the two steps to enable it. For demonstration purposes, we have used Samsung Galaxy A21s with Android version 11. Nonetheless, the steps involved should also be similar (with slight changes) on your device with a different Android version.

Turn on Developer Options

Android is an open-source operating system based on Linux. Apart from the basic settings, it allows developers to tweak several options, like OEM unlocking, Wireless Debugging, Wi-Fi Verbose Logging, etc.

However, the Developer Options remain hidden by default, and there’s a simple trick to enable it. Kindly follow the below instructions on how you can do just that:

  1. Turn on your Android phone or tablet and open Settings from the application screen.
    android settings app
  2. Scroll down and choose About phone.
    android about phone
  3. Here, navigate to Software Information.
    software information
  4. Then, find and tap the Build number seven times. You’ll likely see the message, “You are now x steps away from being a developer.” each time after the third tap.
    tap build number seven times
  5. Now, enter your current PIN to continue. As soon as Android recognizes the correct pin, you should get the message, “Developer mode has been turned on.” If not, you’ll need to tap the Next button manually.
    developer mode has been turned on

Enable USB Debugging

Once you’ve enabled the Developer mode, the option is added to the built-in Android Settings application. Now, you can explore various settings, among which is USB Debugging:

  1. Go to your phone’s settings menu, and you’ll likely notice that the Developer Options pops up right below the About phone.
    developer options in android settings
  2. Select the option and scroll down to the Debugging section.
  3. Here, toggle on the USB debugging option or simply tap on it.
  4. Now, you should get a confirmation message, “Allow USB debugging?” Simply press Ok, which should enable the feature.
    enable usb debugging

Once you’ve enabled USB Debugging, you can plug your device into a computer. After completing your task, we suggest turning off this option for safety purposes:

  1. Navigate back to the Developer options > USB Debugging.
    toggle off usb debugging
  2. This time, toggle off the setting. Generally, it is disabled without any confirmation message. However, if you get one, press the Yes or Ok button to confirm your action. This entirely depends on the smartphone and the current Android version.
  3. Once that’s done, you can toggle off the Developer options too.
    toggle off developer options
  4. Now, move back to the Settings window, and you’ll notice that the USB debugging feature disappears.

Is It Safe to Enable USB Debugging?

USB debugging is an excellent feature that allows full communication between your Android device and a trusted computer. Thus, you can turn it on to test an application, use Android Debugging Bridge (ADB), or run Android Studio and Android SDK effectively.

In fact, this feature makes it faster to access apps as compared to sideloading APK or XAPK files. Moreover, if you’re trying to perform other advanced things with your Android phone or tablet, the complex commands might not work if USB debugging is disabled.

However, sharing photos and files does not necessarily require this setting. You can directly plug in your Android device, accept the confirmation message, and start sharing. But if you enable USB debugging, you do not have to confirm this every time you plug in your mobile phone. This can be useful in many areas, like accessing an Android broken screen.

Well, USB debugging is entirely safe when used on your personal desktop or laptop. But the major problem is that your phone or tablet gets exposed to security vulnerabilities if used on public charging ports or USB stations. Indeed, if someone has full access to them, they might steal your private information. 

This can also happen if you lose your Android device, and if someone finds it, they might gain access to your information. Hence, the best precaution is to use an Android Device Manager to secure and manage your smartphone.

To summarize, USB debugging can only be safe if you use it with a trusted computer. So, we highly recommend turning it off once you’ve completed your work. While you’re at it, it’s best to disable the Developer options too.

Note: USB debugging is only applicable when establishing a connection between your Android device and a PC via a USB cable. So, you do not require this feature if you’re using Bluetooth or other standards.

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