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How to Use ADB Commands in macOS Terminal
How to Use ADB Commands in macOS Terminal

Steps to on how to use ADB commands in the macOS Terminal application.

Nathan Sales avatar
Written by Nathan Sales
Updated over a week ago


ADB (Android Debug Bridge) commands are useful for various tasks, such as installing apps, accessing device files, and debugging Android devices. This guide will walk you through the steps to use ADB commands for your Android-based VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) devices and Android phones and tablets in the macOS Terminal.

⚠️ WARNING: Exercise caution when using ADB commands, as some commands can have significant effects on your device.


  • Have ADB installed on your computer. If you haven't installed it yet, you can follow the official Android documentation for instructions on how to set up ADB for your operating system.

  • Android's USB Debugging is enabled (included under Developer Mode, for devices like Meta Quest). Refer to the device manufacturer's documentation for instructions or see our USB Debugging Collection for help enabling Developer Mode/USB Debugging.

Using ADB Commands in macOS Terminal

💡 NOTE: These steps require comfortability with the Unix/Linux command line. Recommended for advanced users only. It is recommended that ADB be added to your system PATH.

  1. Open the Terminal application on your Mac. You can find it under Applications > Utilities or use Spotlight (Cmd + Space) to search for and open it.

  2. Connect your Android device to your computer using a supported USB cable for your device.

  3. In the Command Prompt window, enter adb followed by the desired command. Your ADB installation will either need to be in your system’s PATH or you will need to be in the directory where ADB is installed. If you have installed ADB to C:/Users/USERNAME/Downloads , navigate to cd C:/Users/USERNAME/Downloads in your Command Prompt.

  4. Type the desired ADB command and press Enter to execute it. For example, you can use the command adb devices to list all Android-based devices with USB Debugging enabled that are connected to your computer.

Useful ADB Commands

As ADB is an expansive tool that allows you to perform many functions on your USB Debugging-enabled devices, we won’t go into depth with all of the commands available for ADB. To learn all the available commands for ADB, type in adb help then hit Return/Enter on your keyboard or see Android’s ADB documentation to learn more (see the link above in Prerequisites). Below are some common commands that you might find useful!

adb devices

  • Lists all Android-based devices with USB Debugging enabled that are currently connected to your computer via USB.

adb shell pm list packages

  • Gathers a list of all APKs installed on devices connected to your computer. This is particularly useful when gathering Package Names for installed applications for our Unmanaged Apps feature.

  • Alternatively, you can use flags -3 and -s to filter specific types of applications:

    • Third-party applications (apps downloaded from your device’s respective app store:

      • adb shell pm list packages -3

    • System applications:

      • adb shell pm list packages -s

adb logcat > logcat.log

  • A useful troubleshooting tool for developers. Once run, it will capture activity occurring on the device and send the data to a text file. You’ll typically only need this when working with ArborXR Support and they request a logcat for troubleshooting/debugging purposes. To learn more about using this command in the context of ArborXR, see our article Gather Local Device Logs!

By following these steps, you can effectively use ADB commands in macOS Terminal to manage and interact with your Android device!

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