You will need to unlock the bootloader of most Android devices before you can install a custom recovery on it. Once you have that bootloader unlocked, you should research if you need a custom recovery before getting root access. Those looking to install a custom ROM will always need to have a custom recovery installed.

You need the feature that lets you upload the zip files from a custom recovery to start using a new ROM. Not all devices need a custom recovery installed before getting root access. That’s especially true with Samsung devices where you can often use the Odin flashing tool for using one of Chainfire’s tools.

Samsung Galaxy S4

Here is how it’s done:

The Files You Need

  1. Download the CWM Recovery from here.
  2. Download the Philz Touch Recovery from here.
  3. Download the Samsung USB Drivers for your computer here.
  4. Download the Odin flashing tool from here. Use the Odin 3.07 or the Odin 3.09 version.
  5. You can only follow this guide if you have a Windows operating system running on your computer. Furthermore, you do void the warranty when following this guide.

Installing ClockworkMod Recovery on the Samsung Galaxy S4 from AT&T (SGH-I337)

  1. Make your choice between either the ClockworkMod recovery or the Philz touch recovery from the files above. They both are the same recovery except that one is a touch-based recovery where you can see button on the display of your device. The other option (original) will give you Volume keys as the navigation.
  2. Download and extract the file on the desktop of your computer. Do that by right-clicking over the file when it’s on your desktop and choosing the extract here option.
  3. Now do the same thing with the Odin file and extract it on the desktop.
  4. Double-click the Odin executable file and it will run the flashing tool on your computer.
  5. Turn off the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone and reboot it in download mode. Do that by holding the Volume Down + Home + Power keys together until you can see the option to enter download mode on the display. It should say press the Volume Up key.
  6. Connect the Galaxy S4 to the computer using the USB cable.
  7. Click the AP or PDA button you can see inside the Odin user-interface.
  8. Browse the desktop for the executable custom recovery file.
  9. Once you can see the file extension in Odin, click the Start button and it will now flash that custom recovery on your device.
  10. Wait until your S4 reboots or you can see the pass message on the display before disconnecting from the computer.

Your choice of custom recovery image is now installed on the AT&T variant of the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone.