Part of the reason I fell in love with the Android operating system was because they didn’t just cater to the upper middle class or upper-class citizens: to those who can spend thousands of dollars every few years on a new computer or mobile device which is typically only going to be wise if you earn more money than a working class or lower middle-class citizen would.
There’s also another side to Android that I thoroughly enjoy as well, one where they aren’t anywhere near as anal as Apple when it comes to unlocking the operating system—they even don’t mind if you do away with that version of Android that came with your device completely and replace it with a custom ROM.
Custom ROMs are without a doubt one of the main attractions when it comes to thinking about getting a custom recovery installed. But a custom recovery is also useful for more things as well—you can use it to upload different zip files, which also offers the chance to get root access and start installing those applications that wouldn’t run on your system before when you didn’t have root access.
Details We Should Know
- The codename for this smartphone is “sailfish.”
- You can follow this guide running on any of the three big operating systems: Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- The TWRP Recovery files found in this guide are only developers for the original Google Pixel smartphone. Do not try installing this on any of the other Google Pixel devices such as the Google Pixel C or any other device outside of the Google Pixel range either.
Files We Need
- Download the latest TWRP image and zip files for your device: Primary (Americas) | Primary (Europe)
- Download the universal ADB drivers.
How to Install TWRP on Google Pixel Smartphones
Note: If you’ve already installed TWRP on the Google Pixel smartphone before then all you need to do is boot to the custom recovery by using the same hardware key combination as the stock recovery and then flash the updated zip file from there. For everyone else, follow the rest of the guide below.
1. Download both the image (.img) and the zip files from the TWRP download page above. Grab the latest versions of the files, so you are installing the most up to date version of the files.
2. Copy the zip file to your smartphone’s internal storage by connecting it to the computer with its USB cable and then copying the file to the smartphone’s folder.
3. Make sure you have the fastboot binaries on the computer, as well as the drivers. You can do that anyway you want. The most official and trustworthy way is by visiting the Android Studio webpage, created by Android, and downloading the platform-tools from the Android SDK which can be found under the command line tools section. When you extract it on the computer, it gives you a list of files that you can choose to install. Check the boxes next to the fastboot binaries and the adb and Google drivers.
Note: You can also get the drivers from our Android USB drivers webpage instead.
4. Turn off the Google Pixel smartphone and reboot it to the bootloader mode by pressing the Volume Down + Power buttons at the same time.
Use Google if you are stuck trying to get your device in bootloader mode as there are detailed guides and conversations on forums that can help you.
5. Once the Google Pixel is in bootloader mode, connect the device to the computer with the USB cable.
6. Open the Command Prompt and type the following command and press the Enter key on your keyboard:
fastboot boot path/to/twrp.img
7. The TWRP Recovery is now temporarily booted on the Google Pixel smartphone. If your passcode is active and you don’t get prompted to enter it, reboot the device to the bootloader and try again.
8. Once TWR is on the device’s display, navigate to the Install > Browse for the zip file that you put on your device’s internal storage and then follow the rest of the on-screen instructions to have it installed. The TWRP zip will install itself to both the phone’s boot slots. It’ll also take away anyway root access that you might have had.
9. If the TWRP gets flashed by fastboot accidentally, then you’ll need to get the latest factory image from Google and flash it on your phone.
You now have a custom recovery image that has replaced the stock recovery. If ever in the future you want to get rid of the custom recovery and go back to using the stock version you just need to flash the stock ROM. The stock ROM always comes with the stock recovery and will automatically wipe the custom version when you flash the ROM. Nothing else is required.
Even though using the guide above might have taken away the root access you had, there’s nothing now stopping you from getting root access again. Just find the right version of the SuperSU application, or whatever rooting tool you’re using, that works for your version of Android that is running on your device and flash it from the custom recovery image. You can boot to the TWRP by using the same hardware button combination that you used for the stock recovery mode.