There is a lot of information flying out there about custom ROMs, and much of it isn’t true: you need root access to install custom ROMs being one that is written all too often.

A custom recovery image is all you need to get custom ROMs installed. It is the added functionality of offering the chance to install zip files that makes the custom recovery so sought after. You can upload the ROM files directly from the custom recovery image and then the next time you reboot the smartphone the new ROM will be there. It’s as simple as that.

Depending on the rooting methods that are available for your smartphone you might also be able to use it to get root access. SuperSU is one tool that Android rooting fans have been flashing from a custom recovery image for years—it’s recently been under new ownership, and a new tool called Magisk has taken some of its glory, but as long as a version of SuperSU is available for your version of Android, and you don’t mind the features that it is offering, then you can still get it flashed from the custom recovery if you want.

Details We Should Know

  • You must have unlocked the Google Pixel XL’s bootloader before following this guide to get the custom recovery image installed.
  • The ADB and Fastboot found in this guide is only going to work on the Windows operating system. There are versions of ADB and Fastboot that can work on Mac and Linux, if you are someone who uses those operating system, but the commands are different and thus you would need to learn them before they can work. If you know how to use the packages for Linux and Mac, then you can still use the same TWRP files found in this guide.
  • The custom recovery images found in this guide are only made purely for the Google Pixel XL smartphone. If you were to try to install them on any other device, including other names found in the Google Pixel family, it would not work so don’t do that.

Files We Need

How to Install TWRP on Google Pixel XL

If you already have TWRP installed on the Google Pixel XL smartphone, then you can just install the latest version of TWRP directly from the custom recovery itself by uploading it there. Achieving that would go as follows: download the TWRP to your computer, connect your device to the computer using the USB cable, transfer the TWRP file to the internal storage folder, disconnect the device from the computer and then boot it up into the Recovery mode where you would then flash the file.

For everyone else who hasn’t yet installed TWRP on the Google Pixel XL smartphone before now, you’ll need to do as follows:

1. Install the Universal ADB Driver package on the computer—it should be all you need for both the Google USB Drivers for when you connect your smartphone to the computer and when you need to use ADB. If, however, that proves to be not the case, you can also install the Google USB Drivers as well.

2. Download both the latest versions of the TWRP .img and zip files from the same downloads page. Copy the zip file to the internal storage of your Google Pixel XL smartphone using the same steps as above: download the TWRP to your computer, connect your device to the computer using the USB cable, transfer the TWRP file to the internal storage folder, disconnect the device from the computer and then boot it up into the Recovery mode where you would then flash the file.

3. Keep the .img file on the computer.

4. Boot the Google Pixel XL smartphone into its bootloader mode by holding the Volume Down button and the Power button from a powered-off position to start with, and it should then boot into bootloader mode. Use Google for more directions if you get stuck.

5. Connect the Google Pixel XL smartphone to the computer using its USB cable.

6. Open the ADB and Fastboot package to bring up the command line and then type the fastboot boot path/to/twrp.img command and hit the “Enter” key on your keyboard to execute it, remembering to change where it says “path/to” with the actual path of your twrp.img on the hard drive.

7. The custom recovery image (TWRP) will now be booted, but it’s only a temporary version of the TWRP. If you haven’t seen the chance to enter your password or pin code and yet you are using a lockscreen password/pin then reboot the smartphone to the bootloader mode and try again.

8. Once you have the temporary version of TWRP on your device’s display, navigate to where you can install the TWRP zip and follow the on-screen instructions to get it installed. The TWRp zip will install the TWRP to both boot slots, and you’ll find that it is now no longer temporary.

9. If you have flashed TWRP using Fasboot my mistake, then you will no longer have root access if you were rooted before. You’ll need to follow another guide to get root access, which can easily be done by knowing your Android version.

The custom recovery image is now installed on the Google Pixel XL smartphone, meaning there’s nothing stopping you from uploading the zip files you want from the Recovery mode: custom ROMs and rooting files to help with better backing up, different versions of Android, and the chance to run more applications are just a few taps away.

If ever you decide that you would like to move away from the custom recovery and go back to using the stock version, all you need to do is flash the stock ROM. The stock ROM will automatically flash the stock recovery along with it, and that’s how you go about wiping the custom version that you just installed. There’s nothing else you need to do apart from flash the stock ROM the way you usually would the firmware for your device. This can vary depending on the manufacturer, so look up how Google devices would usually flash firmware in this particular instance.

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