Android Basics: How to sideload OTA updates on your Google Pixel [Video] (2023)

There are a number of ways to get your Google Pixel smartphone updated to the latest available patch or OS. If you’re happy to take matters into your own hands, you can skip the wait by sideloading OTA update on your Google Pixel, and we’re going to show you how.

Luckily, the entire process is fairly simple and while many hardcore Android fans will know exactly what to do, not everyone is as adept at getting their phone updated. Firstly, there are a few differences in the kind of updates you can install on your Android phone.

  • How to install Android 13 on Google Pixel

The difference between Android updates

Monthly or regular updates are incremental with full updates reserved for major releases. In this instance, an OTA or “over-the-air” update can be flashed with relative ease and will not restore any of your app or system settings when applied. To go back to a previous Android version, you will want a “factory” image. We have a dedicated guide on how to downgrade your Pixel which explains this process.

  • How to downgrade from Android 12 to Android 11 on Google Pixel [Video]
  • How to downgrade from Android 13 back to Android 12 on Google Pixel [Video]

To recap, there are a few ways to get your Pixel updated to the latest official Google OTA update –you can wait until your phone gets a notification which will prompt you to download any waiting updates to your phone. This is normally the slowest method.

You can also force your smartphone to “pull” any waiting updates by heading to Settings > System > System update > Check for updates. This process is marginally faster and can be done as soon as an announcement confirms that an update is available. However, like the OTA notification method, it can be a while before files are available.

The quickest method to get the very latest update on your Google Pixel is to sideload the official OTA file. Google offers a number of ways to do this, but both rely on access to a PC or laptop.

It’s also worth noting that this method will work for almost all Android devices, but you will need to obtain the official OTA files for your specific device manufacturer prior to attempting to sideload using this method.

Table of contents

  • The difference between Android updates
  • Download and install the Android SDK Platform-Tools package
  • Enable USB debugging
  • Download the latest OTA file for your device
  • Boot your Pixel into Recovery mode
  • Navigate to ADB sideload
  • Connect your smartphone to a computer with ADB tools installed
  • Enter the sideload command
  • Reboot your phone

(Video) How to sideload Android OTA updates on your Google Pixel!

You’ll need to use ADB or Android Debug Bridge to sideload an OTA update on your Pixel – we recommend installing the unzipped platform-tools package on your desktop for quick access when running commands. You can download the latest platform-tools zip file fromhere. TheUniversal ADB Drivers from ClockWorkModalso make the process much easier if you are on a Windows machine versus the drivers already on your machine.

Alternatively,Nexus Tools from Corbin Davenportoffers a very simple way to ensure that you have the very latest version of Platform-Tools on your Windows, Mac or Linux machine at all times. Nexus Tools has been written in Dart, so it can run on Linux, macOS, Windows, Windows Subsystem for Linux, and Chrome OS. Once Nexus Tools is finished, you can runadb,fastboot, and other commands with zero problems or issues.

Enable USB debugging

Android Basics: How to sideload OTA updates on your Google Pixel [Video] (1)

Firstly, ensure that you have Developer Options enabled on your Pixel. You can do that by heading to your device Settings > About phone, now tap “Build number” until a message confirms that you have Developer options enabled.

Now you need to head to Settings > System > Advanced > Developer options (you may need to expand a hidden menu for this). Scroll down to the“Debugging”section and tap the“Allow USB debugging”option. It’s also worth noting that if you want to downgrade again at any point, you may want to enable “OEM unlocking” but it is important to note that you can still sideload OTA updates on your Pixel without this option being enabled.

Download the latest OTA file for your device

Android Basics: How to sideload OTA updates on your Google Pixel [Video] (2)

Before you attempt to sideload an OTA file to your Google Pixel, you’ll need a few things. Firstly, we need the very latest OTA update that is available for your specific Pixel device. Google hosts all of the official builds for each Pixel on the dedicated developer site.

It is important to pick the right OTA file for your device, as this method will fail if you attempt to install the incorrect build for your device. The Made by Google smartphone line is guaranteed to get 3 full operating system upgrades with pre-Pixel 6 models given 4 years of security patches. As a result, a number of Google’s Pixel series no longer receive official updates. You can see just which device is no longer supported:

  • Google Pixel / Pixel XL (support ceased December 2019)
  • Google Pixel 2 / Pixel 2 XL (support ceased December 2020)
  • Google Pixel 3 / Pixel 3 XL (support ceased February 2022)
  • Google Pixel 3a / 3a XL (support ceased September 2022)
  • Google Pixel 4 / 4 XL (support ceased October 2022)final update not yet available

You can find OTA files required for the sideload process with appropriate dates and carrier-specific builds for every Google Pixel released right here. Alternatively, you can use the direct links for each device (with associated codenames) below:

If regional builds exist for your device, it is important to sideload the correct OTA for your specific Google Pixel. Doing so ensures that you have access to all features available within your global market. However, you can restore your device if you encounter or experience problems.

Boot your Pixel into Recovery mode

Android Basics: How to sideload OTA updates on your Google Pixel [Video] (3)

To initiate the process you’ll need to boot your Pixel into Recovery mode. This mode simply enables the sideloading process to take place. To access recovery mode, fully power down your phone. Then, hold down on thePower buttonand theVolume down buttonat the exact same time until you get to the Bootloader page.

Using the physical volume buttons to navigate, scroll down toRecovery mode. To select this option just click the power button. Alternatively, if you have your smartphone connected via USB-C to a computer, you can use thereboot recovery command:

Windows:adb reboot bootloader

Mac:./adb reboot bootloader

You should see a smaller Android lying down with an exclamation mark over it. When this screen is showing, press thePower buttonand theVolume up button for about a second to fully enter Recovery mode. Releasing theVolume up button will send you directly into Recovery mode.

Navigate to ADB sideload

Android Basics: How to sideload OTA updates on your Google Pixel [Video] (4)

Using the volume buttons again, scroll down to“Apply update from ADB”and select this option using the power button. This will launch a mostly blank screen with text near the bottom directing you on how to sideload an OTA.

Provided you have followed the early steps to install ADB tools on your computer and placed them in an easy-to-access folder or drive, then you can connect your smartphone to your computer if you have not already done so. You will need to open a Command Prompt or Terminal window within the directory or folder where you have saved the platform-tools file.

(Video) Google Pixel adb sideload ota update

A quick method here is to locate the correct folder and type “cmd” into the address bar on Windows, or shift-click and tap “Open PowerShell window here”. PowerShell is effectively the same as Command Prompt, so don’t worry too much as it works just the same, but you’ll need to use the Mac-specific commands here.

If you are using a Mac and have placed the platform-tools folder on your desktop type: “./cd desktop” hit Enter and then “./cd platform-tools”.

To check if your Pixel is recognised and connected just enter:

Windows:adb devices

Mac/Powershell:./adb device

Provided that you have connected your smartphone correctly a random serial number will appear with other details to confirm it has been connected safely. You might see a prompt on your Pixel screen to “Allow USB debugging”. If you are using a trusted PC toggle the “Always allow from this computer” for seamless future updates.

Enter the sideload command

As long as everything is in place, you can now sideload the OTA file. On Windows, ensure your Command Prompt is directed to the ADB tools folder and type in:

Windows:adb sideload

Mac/Powershell:./adb sideload

(Video) How To Sideload OTA Update For All Pixel Phones | Fastest & Easiest Way!

You’ll then need to insert the file name of the original .zip folder you downloaded from Google and hit enter to start the OTA sideload process on your Pixel. If everything is working properly, you should see some dialog on your computer and handset that shows the process of the sideload and installation process. This might take a while and in some rare cases, the process can fail. If it does, just start the process again as it can take multiple attempts for reasons we still don’t fully understand.

Reboot your phone

Android Basics: How to sideload OTA updates on your Google Pixel [Video] (5)
Android Basics: How to sideload OTA updates on your Google Pixel [Video] (6)

Once the OTA is done installing, you will be taken back to Recovery Mode. The last step to jump into the new update is to select theReboot nowoption with your power button. Once your phone has rebooted, you should be safely updated with the very latest OTA.

A simple way to check if you have followed all of these steps correctly and sideload the OTA file is to head to Settings > About phone > Android version. This should be on the exact patch that you have sideloaded, indicating that you’ve successfully managed to complete the process.

Note: This process won’t wipe your device, but it’s good practice to back up any irreplaceable data in the rare case that something does go wrong.

If you have any questions, make sure to leave them in the comment section below.

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(Video) How To Sideload Android Updates to Pixel 6 (All Pixel Phones)

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How do I sideload Android OTA updates on Google pixels? ›

  1. Download and install Android SDK Platform-Tools package.
  2. Enable USB debugging.
  3. Download the latest OTA file for your device.
  4. Boot your Pixel into Recovery mode.
  5. Navigate to ADB sideload.
  6. Connect your smartphone to a computer with ADB tools installed.
Dec 21, 2021

How do I manually install OTA update? ›

zip file of the OTA update you wish to install, follow the instructions below to install it manually.
Note: Again, you'll probably need a stock recovery.
  1. Setup ADB and Fastboot on your PC.
  2. Download the OTA update . ...
  3. Enable USB debugging: ...
  4. Connect your phone to PC.
  5. Now open the folder where you downloaded the OTA update .

How do I force Google pixels to update? ›

Get the latest Android updates
  1. Open your device's Settings app. .
  2. Near the bottom, tap System. System update. (If needed, first tap About phone or About tablet.)
  3. You'll see your update status. Follow any on-screen steps.

How do I use OTA in pixels? ›

Manually check for OTA system updates

To manually check for your monthly system update, you can do the following: Open the Settings app on your Pixel device. Go to System → System update. Your device will now check for any available updates and install them automatically.

How do I force Android OTA to update? ›

The best way to force an Android update is to go to Settings > Software update > Download and install. You can also force Android updates by reinstalling Android OS using a PC or rooting your Android for deeper customizations.

How do I force my phone to update? ›

Get the latest Android updates available for you

Open your phone's Settings app. Near the bottom, tap System. System update.

How do I sideload Google updates? ›

Sideload the OTA Update

To open the hidden recovery menu, press the Volume Up button while holding the Power button. Now use the Volume Down button to navigate to “Apply update from ADB” option, then press the Power button to select the option.

How do you manually update Google? ›

To update Google Chrome:
  1. On your computer, open Chrome.
  2. At the top right, click More .
  3. Click Help. About Google Chrome.
  4. Click Update Google Chrome. Important: If you can't find this button, you're on the latest version.
  5. Click Relaunch.

Can I force an Android update? ›

If you're trying to force an Android update, then you can update your phone with an Android solution – DroidKit. It helps you to force an upgrade to the Android version for Samsung phones and tablets. You can reinstall Android OS, and force update on an old phone or tablet as your need.

How do I download an OTA file? ›

  1. Download SDK tools for your OS
  2. extract the and open the "platform-tools" folder in Terminal/CMD (win + R, type cmd, hit enter, type cd, hit space, drag the platform-tools folder to cmd, enter)
  3. connect phone to PC.
Jul 30, 2021

What is an OTA image Android? ›

Over-the-air (OTA) or Firmware Over-the-air (FOTA) are remote updates to the Android operating system (OS) running on a mobile device. Android devices connected to a network can receive and install over-the-air updates to the OS, application software, and time zone rules.

What is OTA setting on Android? ›

Android Over The Air Updates

Android Over The Air (OTA) updates provide the infrastructure used by the Android partner portal for managing device system updates. Android partners currently make OTA updates via the OTA Dashboard (

How install OTA update using ADB? ›

While pressing the Power button, press the Volume Up button then release both buttons quickly. The Android recovery menu should be visible. On your Phone(1) screen, select the option: Apply update from ADB.

How to apply OTA update from ADB? ›

On Device. Hold the Power button and press the Volume Up rocker once, and a menu will appear. Use the Volume Down (or, Volume Up, as needed) rocker to navigate through the menu and use the Power button to select the option Apply update from ADB.

How do I manually update firmware? ›

Go to Control Panel > System > Firmware Update > Firmware Update. Click Browse and then select the extracted firmware image file. Click Update System. Select a restart option.

How to install Android security patch manually? ›

Follow these steps:
  1. Open your phone's Settings app.
  2. Near the bottom, tap "About phone"->"Android version"
  3. Find your "Android version," "Android security update", and "Build number"
  4. Get the latest Android updates available for your device.
Jul 8, 2022

Can an app force you to update? ›

Unfortunately, there is no built-in solution, that works for both App Store and Google Play, to force users to update their installed application versions.

Why am I not getting OTA updates? ›

Disable air-plane mode (e.g. enable WiFI) Check that you have access to the network. Wait (usually no more than a couple of minutes) Optionally, go back to Settings -> About Phone/Tablet -> System Updates -> Check now.

How do I fix OTA update error? ›

Updating the system through OTA seems to fail. What should I do?
  1. Press the volume-up and power keys together and hold for 10 seconds - this will force the phone to restart.
  2. When the phone has rebooted, head to Settings > About phone > Software Update and try to install the update again.

What is OTA setting? ›

Android devices in the field can receive and install over-the-air (OTA) updates to the system, application software, and time zone rules. This section describes the structure of update packages and the tools provided to build them.

How do you manually sideload? ›

This allows you to sideload from certain apps you often use, while keeping others blocked for security. To toggle this on Android 8 through 11, open Settings > Apps & notifications. Expand the Advanced section at the bottom and tap Special app access. On the resulting menu, scroll down and choose Install unknown apps.

What is a sideload update? ›

Sideloading means the update file is downloaded manually, its contents are verified and then the file is saved to the proper directory within the local source folder.

How do I enable sideload on Android? ›

Enabling Sideloading
  1. Pull down notification shade and tap the gear icon in order to open the Settings.
  2. Tap "Apps & Notifications"
  3. (on Android 9, skip to step 4) Expand the Advanced menu.
  4. Choose "Special App Access"
  5. The bottom option should be "Install Unknown Apps." Tap this.

How do I update my Android apps without Google Play? ›

You can download it from the Google Play Store, then use APKMirror Installer to install or update your apps afterward. Otherwise, grab the APKMirror Installer app from the official APKMirror website. Visit the APKMirror website and search for an app you want to install on your Android device.

How do you update everything on Google? ›

On your Android phone or tablet, open your Settings app. System update. Your update status appears. Follow the on-screen instructions to download or install updates.

How to update Google Chrome using CMD? ›

Through Terminal. Type sudo apt-get update and then sudo apt-get --only-upgrade install google-chrome-stable .
  1. Thank you! ...
  2. Thank you, worked for me as well. ...
  3. Clear and straightforward, this should be the accepted answer !!! ...
  4. This worked indeed.
Sep 18, 2020

What happens if you don't update your Android phone? ›

The random crashing of an app, abnormally high battery usage, and heating are just some of the most common performance troubles caused by bugs. Companies often roll out corrective updates to iron out these issues.

Can I update my Android without wi-fi? ›

Steps to Update Your Android Phone Without Wi-Fi

Go to the app menu and find Settings. Go into settings and scroll down to the option "About Device" or "Update and Security". Find whatever is available on your device, and from the device, go to the Updates option. You will find an option that says "check for updates".

Is it safe to use an Android phone that no longer receives updates? ›

In a nutshell, no, you should not use a phone that doesn't receive updates. The main reason being that the lack of security updates leaves your phone vulnerable to malicious actors. Cybercriminals come up with new ways to bypass security measures in software to get hold of confidential data.

How do I roll back Android update in pixels? ›

  1. Download and install Android SDK Platform-Tools package. ...
  2. Enable USB debugging and OEM unlocking. ...
  3. Download the Factory Image for your device. ...
  4. Boot into device bootloader. ...
  5. Unlock the bootloader. ...
  6. Relock the bootloader (optional) ...
  7. Reboot your phone.
Aug 16, 2022

Can you manually install Android security updates? ›

Your phone is designed to install these updates automatically, but if you want to check for and install an update before it's scheduled, you can do that in the Settings app with just a few taps.

Does pixel experience support OTA updates? ›

Pixel Experience: Installation

The PE recovery is specifically useful for installing Android 12(L)-based OTAs, as TWRP has yet to support Android's new encryption scheme.


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