How to enable a physical Android device (phone or tablet) for development and debugging

To enable a physical Android hardware device (phone or tablet) for developing and debugging your apps with Android Studio, follow these steps.

1) Enable “Developer Options”

The first thing you have to do with a new Android device is to enable the developer options in the Settings app. To do this:

  • Open Settings
  • Scroll down to “About phone” or “About tablet”
  • Tap that item (“About phone” or “About tablet”)
  • Tap the “Build number” field seven times

In Android 7, as you tap “Build number,” you’ll see it count down, which is a nice touch. When you finish with this you’ll see a message that says something like, “You’re now a developer.”

2) Developer options > USB debugging

Next:

  • Go back to the main Settings menu, where you’ll see a new “Developer options” menu item. Tap that.
  • Scroll down to the “USB debugging” setting, and enable it. This needs to be enabled so you can upload your Android apps to your physical hardware device.

Your Android device should be ready to use

At this point your device should show up in the “Select Deployment Target” window when you click “Run app” in Android Studio. If it doesn’t show up, there is one more step you need to take on your device.

The short version of this goes like this:

  • Pull down the Android settings window on your physical device.
  • There should be an “Android System” notification there. Tap it.
  • Select the “Transfer files” option on that notification setting.

(I describe this solution more in my Android File Transfer error: Can’t access device storage (solved) tutorial.)

Summary: How to enable a physical Android device for development and debugging

At the time of this writing this android.com article, Configure On-Device Developer Options, wasn’t 100% clear about this process, so I wrote this article to save me some time in the future. I hope it helps you as well.

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