How to start the Android command line shell (adb)

Android FAQ: How do I start the Android command line tool (so I can interact with my Android emulator or device)?

You start the Android command line with the adb shell command:

$ adb shell

This makes at least two assumptions:

  1. You have the Android SDK installed.
  2. You have an Android emulator (or physical device) running.

When you start the adb shell, you'll see a very simple prompt that looks like this:


At the adb shell prompt you can enter a variety of commands to interact with your Android emulator or device.

Android adb commands

You can find a complete list of adb commands here on the Android developer website. Here's a brief list of frequently used commands:

adb devices                  list the installed devices

adb pull <remote> <local>    copy a file or directory from the emulator or device

adb push <remote> <local>    copy a file or directory to the emulator or device

adb install Foo.apk          install the APK file/app

adb install -r Foo.apk       update the already installed app

adb uninstall <pkg>          uninstall the app given by pkg

ls                           list files and directories

logcat                       view the system's log buffers


kill-server                  kill the server (if it's running)

reboot                       reboot the device

This command lets you uninstall an Android application, where the argument given to the uninstall command is the root package name of the app:

$ adb uninstall com.devdaily.fptracker

(Here’s a little more information about using the Android adb uninstall command.)

Finally, use this adb command to start SQLite, giving it the name of your database:

# sqlite3 data/data/com.devdaily.myapp/databases/MyDatabase.db

There are many more adb commands you can use. Check your current adb command with adb -help to see more information on all of these commands, and more. (Here’s a link to the Android adb page.)