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How to Root the Nexus 6

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by Rxpert83, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood
    Thread Starter

    Welcome to the Nexus Experience!

    This is the manual method....Automated root tools can be found in the 2nd post.
    *Note* This is a work in progress. Suggestions for improvements are always welcome.

    Warning: unlocking your bootloader will perform a factory reset on your device. Backup everything important before proceeding

    This looks long, buts its just the initial setup :):D

    If you aren't familiar with doing things from fastboot, chances are the first thing you are going to need to do is properly setup the folders to carry out the fastboot commands. This setup is going to take the most time and after you have it all set up its very quick to do after that.

    Setting up ADB & Downloading your files
    1) Download the mini-SDK here and move it to something like C:\Android\platform-tools
    our forums' mini-sdk

    It contains:
    adb.exe - Windows adb utility
    fastboot.exe - Windows fastboot utility
    fastboot-windows.exe - Windows fastboot utility
    AdbWinApi.dll - adb link library for Windows
    AdbWinUsbApi.dll - adb link library for Windows

    2) Download your Recovery
    I would highly suggest twrp. You can get it from here:

    3) Download Superuser file (don't unzip it!)

    4) Placing files in the correct places
    You'll want to move the recovery image into the folder with your fastboot tools (mine is in C:\Android\platform-tools). To simplify things, I'd also suggest renaming the file to recovery.img for simplicity
    Unlocking your bootloader
    Now you're ready for the fun to begin! :)
    1) Power off your device.
    2) Hold Power+volume down to reboot your device into fastboot
    3) We need to open up a command prompt in the location where your sdk-tools are (Mine is in C:\Android\platform-tools)
    3a) If you aren't sure how to do this, the easiest way if you're on a recent windows machine is to hold Shift and click somewhere on the open fastboot folder. You'll see a "open command window here" option.
    3b) Or, you can navigate manually by using the command cd to change directory

    4) Once you're in the correct location, we need to verify your computer and phone are communicating correctly. The command to list all connected fastboot devices is
    Code (Text):
    1.  fastboot devices
    You should see a list of connected devices. If nothing shows up, your command prompt is either in the wrong location or you have a driver issue.

    Once everything is communicating properly, the command to unlock your bootloader is
    Code (Text):
    1. fastboot oem unlock
    You will need to confirm on your device that you want to do this. Just press volume Up to confirm. Once again, note that this WILL WIPE YOUR DEVICE.

    Piece of cake eh? :thumbup:
    *Important* Reboot the device completely after this step to prevent issues and/or bootloops later in the process. After rebooting fully into android, reboot back into fastboot either manually or through adb.

    Install recovery
    a) If you aren't already, get back into fastboot mode using the instructions above.

    b) Once again, we need a terminal pointed to the location your fastboot tools

    c) Now that you are in fastboot and have the terminal in the right location, you just use the following command to install recovery.

    Code (Text):
    1.  fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
    ***Note: if you did not rename the recovery, you'll have to type in or copy the full name of the file instead of recovery.img

    Congrats, you now how your custom recovery!! You can reboot into it by selecting "recovery" from fastboot using your volume up and down buttons and power to select
    Flash SU file
    With the phone booted normally, place the superuser files on the internal storage of your device. The location isn't important, but you'll need to know where they are and be able to navigate to them later.

    Reboot into recovery mode. In recovery, flash the SU file you've downloaded earlier.
    To do this, select install, then navigate to where you placed the file. Select the first file, then swipe to flash. After the install finishes, its a good idea to do the wipe dalvik cache and cache option, and then reboot into system

    Reboot, and you're all done

    Enjoy the freedom of a rooted device :D

    #1 Rxpert83, Dec 3, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014
    KOLIO, Mikestony, Guggy and 4 others like this.
  2. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood
    Thread Starter

    Automated Rooting Solutions

    Wugs Nexus Root Toolkit:
    Wugs can be used to root or completely restore to stock.
    Instructions and downloads available via

    Chainfire's CF Autoroot:
    This will root the device, but NOT install a custom recovery.

    Download the current CF autoroot from http://autoroot.chainfire.eu/
    Unzip the file. Reboot your device into fastboot mode (Power+Volume Down)
    Click the appropriate root script for your computer type and follow onscreen instructions (You pretty much just hit a key to continue and it does it all on its own).

    If a custom recovery is wanted follow the manual method above for installing a recovery
    KOLIO, scary alien, jj14x and 2 others like this.
  3. lennydude

    lennydude Android Expert

    Awesome info Rxpert83 !
    I unlocked my N6 via Wugs and installed a custom recovery using Wugs then just flashed Dirty Unicorns Rom to get root. It is super smooth and is 5.0.2 rooted. Not looking back:)
    BTW, also flashed TBO Gapps along with the DU Rom. Love the Team Blackout Play Store !
  4. Jose Castillo

    Jose Castillo Lurker

    This method should work for a purchased-from-sprint Nexus 6 as well correct?
  5. Rxpert83

    Rxpert83 Dr. Feelgood
    Thread Starter

    Yup! They all root the same.

    For what its worth, mine was purchased from Sprint too [emoji2]
  6. electricpete

    electricpete Android Expert

    That's new to me (Whenever I've rooted before it did not wipe my device apps or data). Do the automated root methods listed also wipe your device?
  7. scary alien

    scary alien not really so scary

    Wiping the device (via fastboot oem unlock) is indeed supposed to wipe the device as a security measure.

    There were some reports way back when for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus that the unlocking procedure did not always wipe the device (LOL, and nevermind the reports that that many wipe-data implementations on some devices do not actually remove the files (there was a story earlier this year that wiping was not always a sure thing--i.e., there are some bad implementations by some manufactures re. that)).

    TL;DR: it's not really the rooting but the unlocking the bootloader that wipes the device :).
    electricpete likes this.
  8. electricpete

    electricpete Android Expert

    Thanks, it's new to me in the sense that I have never use that command before. I have used other methods. My question remains, do the other methods of root listed above also wipe the device?
    scary alien likes this.
  9. scary alien

    scary alien not really so scary

    Oh, I see what you're asking...well, all of the methods above actually do / end-up with the same result: i.e., a rooted device where Chainfire's root package get's installed.

    To do so, you first have to have an unlocked bootloader. That will allow the subsequent fastboot flashing (or boot) operations to work.

    Wug's Nexus Root Toolkit does exactly what Rxpert83's first post does, but it automates things:

    - unlock bootloader
    - install a custom recovery
    - flash Chainfire's UPDATE-SuperSU-v#.##.zip root package (from/via the custom recovery)​

    Chainfire's CFAutoRoot has commands built-in to the boot.img that will automatically install ("flash") the root pieces into the /system partition for you (nevermind the talk about system-less root for this discussion, please :p). Flashing (or soft-booting) a new boot.img from fastboot also requires/takes an unlocked bootloader.

    Bonus note/stuff (because I don't see a lot of folks talk about this): but you don't actually have to flash a custom recovery to run it. You can "soft-boot" a bootable image (i.e., a recovery.img or a boot.img) file via the fastboot boot <bootable.img file> command. That allows you to do things like temporarily run a custom recovery to flash a .zip file, etc. or even run the CFAutoRoot and keep a stock boot.img.

    Lemme know if you have other questions :).
    electricpete likes this.
  10. electricpete

    electricpete Android Expert

    Thanks, that's great info. I just ordered my Nexus 6 to arrive early next week... excited to get started. Since it appears that root will wipe out any other setup, I will plan on rooting as soon as I get my device. I gather the adb approach of method 1 is more flexible and useful in the long run.

    One thing I'm curious about, what is the routine for rooted users when the monthly updates come?
    #10 electricpete, Dec 24, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2015
  11. scary alien

    scary alien not really so scary

    Just to be clear, the unlocking of the bootloader is a one-time thing, so re-rooting doesn't require re-unlocking (they're really two different/separate pieces--i.e., you don't have to root to unlock, but you do have to unlock to root [the first time]).

    Before system-less root: the routine for rooted users re. OTAs was that you shouldn't / couldn't install them (there are ways around that, but very involved).

    With new system-less root: we should be able install OTAs with minimal effort, but will likely involve having to re-flash the boot.img, install OTA, re-root (i.e., just re-flash the root package in custom recovery)
    Rxpert83, electricpete and lunatic59 like this.
  12. electricpete

    electricpete Android Expert

    I think op identifies su version 2.37 ?

    Has anyone tried that with Android 6.0 or beyond?
    (I'm on 6.0.1 mmb29k, not yet rooted but thinking about how I'll do it). I see a lot of higher numbered su versions mentioned in the xda threads like this one).

    ...From that xda thread I gather there are some changes in Android 6 ("verified boot" feature) that are important when rooting. Now we need either a custom kernel or modified boot.img or else a newer version of su that addresses verified boot in other ways. On page 7 (most recent) of the xda thread, versions 2.62 and 2.65 of su.apk are mentioned. Here is chainfire's thread on new superuser.apk approaches...I haven't digested it other than that it's a fluid situation / evolving approach.
    #12 electricpete, Dec 30, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
  13. scary alien

    scary alien not really so scary

    Hey @electricpete :).

    I've been following Chainfire's [BETA] SuperSU thread with great interest (for obvious reasons :)) for quite some time now and I have indeed rooted my Nexus 5 with v2.65 which auto-patches the boot.img (and keeps a backup of the original, too).

    Chainfire's script will attempt to determine if the device can or must use system-less root and there are files that can be created in /data to direct the script which you'd like it to use (old system-root or new system-less root).

    The big side benefits of system-less root are that things like OTAs should install with minimal effort now (you may have to restore the stock boot.img in case it's involved in the OTA) and apps like Google Pay, etc. don't see that the /system partition has been modified and therefore will work (for the time being, of course ;)).
    electricpete likes this.
  14. electricpete

    electricpete Android Expert

    Thanks, good info. That CHAINFIRE'S [beta] SuperSU thread is a mess…. 433 pages. The first post says the latest test release is 2.52 (which it's not, unless he is just talking about chronological instead of highest-numbered version). The other chainfire thread which has the actual zip files says that all versions above 2.50 need modified boot image flashed first…. which they don't (2.65 flashes without needing any prior changes to stock boot.img). It's pretty messy documentation, but I THINK I've got it…

    Here's my plan to get root, starting from stock 6.0.1/MMB29K, unrooted, with bootloader unlocked:

    1.flash/install TWRP as above via fastboot. (Remember to go directly to recovery after flashing TWRP, without booting to android first. In TWRP, leave everything as "read only" and don't accept TWRP's offer to install superuser).

    2.In adb, type the following terminal command…

    echo SYSTEMLESS=true>>/data/.supersu

    … which is supposed to help force systemless root. I'm not sure if it's required but I don't think it'll hurt.

    3.flash the superusersu 2.65 zip in TWRP

    4.keep my fingers crossed.

    (let me know if you see any problems with that plan).

    But I'm not going to mess around with it until this weekend. Here's why: Last night I made the mistake of trying to do a "quick" root on a weeknight. I flashed an earlier version of superuser.apk following similar instructions to those at the beginning of this a/f thread and ended up with a non-working phone. Had to fastboot reflash the complete stock images just to get back a working phone for today (for things like phone calls LOL). While waiting for my the flash to complete, I was worried about how to get through the google account identification (which normally sends me an sms) during setup after flashing stock, since I'd have no way to receive that sms (the nano sim card that I got for my nexus 6 won't work on my other phones without an adapter that I didn't have). Luckily things worked out well: I was able to do the nfc "tap" to transfer account authentication from my old phone. Also google did a pretty good job of automatically getting my phone close to the way it was. Not only did all apps re-install themselves, but a few (like j4velin's "notification toggle") actually set themselves up exactly the way I had them before. But still I didn't get to bed until much later than I planned. So my lessoned learned: don't mess with these things until the weekend!
    #14 electricpete, Dec 30, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
    scary alien likes this.
  15. scary alien

    scary alien not really so scary

    Yeah, there's confusion about the v2.52 version...it was a "stable beta" until the most recent flurry of changes, but the v2.65 seems to address most of the issues that have been reported. It's just a matter of time before v2.65+ will become the general/stable release for all.

    Your plan looks perfect to me :)...I agree that I don't believe that step #2 is required...I believe the update-binary (script) assumes that you need system-less root for a 6.x version of Android.

    Your step #4 is fine, too, but I'm sure is not truly needed since you've got this down cold already :).

    By the way, I did basically the same on my N5, but I almost never actually flash the custom recovery anymore (I do a fastboot boot recovery.img instead of flashing--I do most of my messing-about when when I'm actually near my development machine).

    Also, you'll find a copy of your stock boot.img file in your /data partition (stock_boot_*.img.gz) in case you need to flash back the original boot.img (i.e., when an OTA arrives). Not exactly sure if the SuperSU un-root process will do that for us, though...

    electricpete likes this.
  16. jj14x

    jj14x Android Expert

    With this method, does Android pay work (for payments)? And does the phone display "Device is corrupt" message at boot up?
  17. electricpete

    electricpete Android Expert

    I successfully rooted using the steps in my 12/30 post above above (different superuser.zip version than the op).
    Mine doesn't display any error / corrupt messages at startup.
    I haven't tried Android Pay.
    jj14x likes this.
  18. jj14x

    jj14x Android Expert

    Thank you :)

Nexus 6 Forum

The Nexus 6 release date was November 2014. Features and Specs include a 5.96" inch screen, 13MP camera, 3GB RAM, Snapdragon 805 processor, and 3220mAh battery.

November 2014
Release Date

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