Android Bash Profile and Terminal Tricks


Android Debug Bridge (ADB)

Before you can do anything in your bash terminal with Android, you must install the Android Debug Bridget(ADB). This is a set of command line tools that help you interface with Android devices

Installing ADB

To install ADB on Mac, Windows, or Linux. XDA has some pretty good instructions on how to do so in the following post.

Since I am on a Mac you can utilize Homebrew to install ADB with the simple command brew install adb which will allow you to use the ADB command from the terminal.

Bash Profile

If you are using Oh My ZShell, the one plugin that can be helpful to have handy is the adb plugin. Can be installed by adding adb to the list of plugins in the .zshrc file.

  • plugins=(adb)

Otherwise below are some useful bash functions and aliases I use on a daily basis.

# Gradle
alias gclean='./gradlew clean'
alias gstop='./gradlew --stop'
alias lapk='ls ./build/outputs/apk'

deeplink() {
	adb shell am start -a android.intent.action.VIEW -d $1

#save all screenshots from android device to local folder on desktop
alias screenshots='adb-sync -R /sdcard/Pictures/Screenshots/ ~/Pictures/android-screenshots'

#take a screenshot
#snap_screen will default to name screenshot-date.png
#snap_screen "test.png" will create a screenshot with test.png as the name
snap_screen() {
  if [ $# -eq 0 ]
    name="screenshot-`date -u +'%Y%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ'`.png"
  adb shell screencap -p /sdcard/$name
  adb pull /sdcard/$name ~/Pictures/android-screenshots
  adb shell rm /sdcard/$name
  echo "save to ~/Pictures/android-screenshots/$name"

# Record and pull video
# If you want a specific name call screen_record <name of file>
# No name will default to screen-record-<current date/time>.mp4
  if [ $# -eq 0 ]
    name="screen-record-`date -u +'%Y%m-%dT%H:%M:%SZ'`.mp4"
  echo "Starting recording, press CTRL+C when you're done..."
  trap "echo 'Recording stopped, downloading output...'" INT
  adb shell screenrecord --size 720x1280 --verbose "/sdcard/$name"
  trap - INT
  sleep 5
  adb pull /sdcard/$name ~/Movies/android-screen-recording
  echo "$name saved to ~/Movies/android-screen-recording"
  sleep 1
  adb shell rm /sdcard/$name
  echo "$name was removed from the device"

#     open an android application
#     open_android name_of_file_location
open_android() {
  if [ $# -eq 0 ]
    open -a /Applications/Android\
    echo "Android Studio opened!"
    open -a /Applications/Android\ $1
    echo "$1 was opened in Android Studio!"
    cd $1


Installing APK From Terminal

adb install sample.apk

Using ADB When Multiple Devices Connected

To first get the serial numbers of the devices connected to your PC, run the following adb command to print all connected Android devices.

adb devices

You should see the following output:

List of devices attached
emulator-5554	device
emulator-5556	device

Now you should be able to use the adb serial flag, -s, to specify which device to execute the command on.

## take a screenshot and save to device
adb -s emulator-5554 shell screencap -p /sdcard/screenshot.png