Forcibly installing the Android USB driver in Windows 7

If you are an Android mobile device user, with a tablet or phone, you may at some point desire to connect it to your Windows 7 computer over USB. Generally we do this so that we can use the debug interface with software utilities such as ADB.exe (Android Debug Bridge), which is included with the Google Android SDK.

Upon first connecting your Android device to your Windows 7 system, you might realize that there is no device driver available out-of-the-box to allow the debug interface to work properly. When you open Device Manager (devmgmt.msc) or Computer Management (compmgmt.msc) – which contains the Device Manager MMC snap-in – you might notice a generic icon representing an “Android Device” under the “Other Devices” category. Basically, this means that Windows 7 recognizes the presence of the device, but doesn’t know how to “talk” to it. To get Windows to talk to our Android device, we must install the Google USB driver.

Getting the Google USB Driver

The Google USB driver itself is part of the Android SDK download. To get the USB driver, download the Android SDK installer (version r20 as of this writing), and run it. Launch the SDK Manager utility (default path: c:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk\SDK Manager.exe), uncheck everything else you don’t need, and select the “Google USB Driver” from the “Extras” folder. When you’re ready, hit the Install Packages button.

Once the download and install has completed, the driver should be available at: <SDKPath>\extras\google\usb_driver. To install the driver, go back to Device Manager, right-click the “Android Phone” device, and select “Update Driver Software.” Now, this is the part where it gets a little tricky, so make sure to follow these directions exactly:

  • Click “Browse my computer for driver software
  • Click “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer
  • Click Next (don’t worry about the device category that’s selected)
  • Click “Have Disk
  • Copy/paste the path from Windows Explorer: C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk\extras\google\usb_driver
  • Select the “Android ADB Interface” device from the list
  • Click Next
  • You’ll be prompted with a warning, but go ahead and click “Yes” to proceed
  • When you get a “Windows Security” warning, make sure the device driver is signed by “Google Inc” and go ahead and click “Install” (you can choose to always trust Google or not)

At this point, you should be finished installing the device driver. In Device Manager, you should now see the “Android ADB Interface” device under the “Android Phone” category!