Whenever Google pushes out a firmware update to any of its Pixel or Nexus devices, someone either catches the OTA update file or Google uploads it to its website. Instead of waiting for it to reach your device or manually flashing the latest firmware build, you can easily sideload the OTA file. This option is not only the fastest route, but it also doesn’t require you to wipe your device…

How to manually sideload an OTA update:

  1. Download the OTA update file for your smartphone
  2. Download the Android SDK. You will need the ADB tools
  3. Enable Developer options by going to the device’s Settings menu, jump into System, select About phone/tablet, tap on the device’s Build number several times, and authenticate with your fingerprint or lockscreen security
  4. Hit the back button and enter into Developer options
  5. Make sure the Developer options is toggled on as well as USB debugging, located further down the menu
  6. Plug your device into your computer and launch either Command Prompt (Windows) or Terminal (macOS/Linux)
  7. Using your computer, type in “adb reboot recovery
  8. You will be greeted with a screen that looks like the above image. Press down and hold on the device’s Power button and then press the Volume up button
  9. Using the volume buttons, scroll down to Apply update from ADB
  10. Select it with the Power button
  11. On your computer, type in “adb sideload [filename]” replacing [filename] with the OTA .zip file you downloaded earlier
  12. Hit Enter and watch the installation process on your device
  13. When it’s complete, select Reboot if the device wasn’t already restarting on its own
  14. The update should now have been installed on your device

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About the Author

Justin Duino

I’m a writer for 9to5Google with a background in IT and Android development. Follow me on Twitter to read my ramblings about tech and email me at justin@jaduino.com. Tips are always welcome.