Saturday, November 16, 2013

How to Unlock the Bootloader and Root Your Nexus 4 on OS X

I finally made the dive into installing custom ROMs on my Nexus 4 but as you all know you need to have a rooted device.  I wasn't able to find very clear instructions on how to root my device, most of the ones I found were not very descriptive, so hopefully this will help clear things up.

*Images will be added shortly.

I'm sure these steps are very similar on Windows, using Command Prompt instead of Terminal, but I used OS X so I can't make any guarantees if the steps are not exactly the same.

This might not be the best or easiest way, but everything I found was very similar and this method worked for me.

This works for all Android versions which includes Android 4.2.1, 4.2.2, 4.3.x, and 4.4 KitKat.

This guide includes making a backup and restoring everything.

Uses ClockworkMod.

Remove any type of security to access your phone whether it be a PIN or Pattern. (might cause issues when trying to backup).

Turn on Airplane mode to prevent any updates or incoming new messages to not be backed up.

Save the downloads and extract them to your Desktop.

Android File Transfer - Will be used on OS X to backup your data.
Nexus4Root - Contains the main files to unlock bootloader.
CWM SuperSU - Roots the device and installs SuperSU on your phone.  If using 4.3 or 4.4 use this file.  If using an older version of Android, use the one included in the
Clockwork Recovery Touch - Nexus4Root includes a version of this but if you want the latest you can download and replace the file in the Nexus4Root extract.


Go to Settings > About Phone
Tap the Build Number until you see the "You are now a developer" message.
Go back to Settings and select Developer Options.

Turn on Developer Options and make sure USB debugging is checked.
If you haven’t downloaded and installed Android File Manager do so now. Also download and extract Nexus4Root to your desktop.

Connect a micro-USB cable to your phone and computer.  If you've already installed Android File Transfer it will most likely automatically open.

Backup your phone by copying all the files from Android File Transfer to a folder on your OS X desktop.

*If it looks like it is stuck your phone may have some security setting whether it is a PIN, Pattern, etc.  Unlock your phone and the transfer should start.

Open Terminal on OS X.  Using Spotlight would be the easiest way to open it.

In Terminal type cd Desktop/Nexus4Root
In Terminal type chmod 755 *

In Terminal type ./adb-mac devices

*You should see device meaning it is being detected.  If it is not listed or is offline, unplug the phone from the computer and plug it back in again.
In Terminal type ./adb-mac backup –apk –all –f backup.ab

On your phone it should display an option to backup your data.  Select Back up my data. If you wish to encrypt it with a password you can, I did not.

*The backup may take anywhere from 1-20 minutes depending on the amount of data you have on your phone.  If it looks like it is stuck, it most likely is not, just give it some time.

Once completed Power off you device and unplug it from the computer. 

Press and hold the Power button and the Volume down button until you see the bootloader menu.

Your phone should say that it is locked on the bottom of the bootloader screen which is normal.

On the bootloader screen plug in your micro-USB cable from the computer to your phone.

Go back to Terminal on OS X and type ./fastboot-mac oem unlock

*This will wipe your phone.  Hopefully you made a backup in the earlier steps.

On your device press the Volume Up button to select Yes.  Then press the Power button to confirm.  You should now see on the bootloader screen where it used to say locked it now says unlocked.  You have successfully unlocked the bootloader.  Press the Power button again to reboot your phone.

*While booting your should notice an unlocked lock which also means the bootloader has been unlocked.

Once your phone has booted you will see the set up menu as if it’s a new phone.   Everything has been wiped.  Go through the set up process until you get to the homescreen.  You can just skip everything as we’ll restore your content and settings later.

Reconnect your phone if it is not connected and copy the file by dragging and dropping it onto your phone using Android File Transfer.  Copying and pasting does not work.

Power off your phone and boot it while holding the Power and Volume Down button until you see the bootloader screen.

Go back to Terminal and type ./fastboot-mac flash recovery recovery*.img

If everything works you should see some OKAY messages in Terminal.

On your phone use the Volume toggle to switch to Recovery mode, then press the Power button.

Once in ClockworkMod(CWM) Recovery select “install zip from sdcard”.

Then “choose zip from sdcard”.

Select “0/”.

Browse/scroll and select file, the one you copied over, and select Yes, which will root your phone and install the SuperSU app.

Once completed navigate back to the main screen and select reboot system now.

If you see a message about the "ROM may flash stock recovery on boot. Fix?” select Yes.

Once your phone has rebooted you should now see a SuperSU app in your app drawer.

Congratulations, your phone is now rooted.

Time to restore your previous settings.  If you made a backup by copying all your files from Android File Transfer from your phone to your computer you can reverse the process and copy all of the files from your computer to your phone.

You’ll most likely have to re-enable Developer options by going to Settings > About phone then tapping on the Build number until you see the message saying “You are a developer”.

Go to Developer options, make sure it is on, and make sure to enable USB debugging.

Next, in Terminal type ./adb-mac restore backup.ab

On your phone selected Restore my data.

*Again, depending on how big the backup was it may take anywhere from 1-20 minutes.

Once done your phone should be back to what it was before starting this process, but with the addition of root access.

*Some apps may require you to re-enter your password.

Wasn’t so hard now was it, just a tad bit long?  Hope this helped.  Now go and install a custom ROM or kernel.


Not sure which ROM you want to try.   Check out my other article.

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