Configuring ADB for OS X: A Comprehensive Guide

Configuring ADB for OS X: A Comprehensive Guide

22 April 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment Tech-Help


The Android Debug Bridge (ADB) is an essential tool for developers and enthusiasts who need to interact with Android devices for development, debugging, and testing purposes. However, configuring ADB to work in the OS X Terminal can sometimes be a challenge. This guide will walk you through the process of making ADB accessible from your OS X Terminal, ensuring a smoother workflow for your Android development activities.

Understanding the Issue

When trying to use ADB from the Terminal, you might encounter the following error message:

$ adb --help
-bash: adb: command not found

This error occurs because the ADB command is not available in your shell’s PATH. The PATH is an environment variable that tells the shell where to look for executable files. If ADB is not included in your PATH, the shell won’t be able to find it, leading to the error above.

Adding ADB to the PATH

To resolve the issue, you need to add the platform-tools directory, which contains ADB, to your PATH. Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Locate the Android SDK: Determine where the Android SDK is installed on your system. For macOS, it’s typically located at $HOME/Library/Android/sdk.
  2. Edit the Shell Profile: Depending on your default shell, edit the appropriate profile file. For bash, it’s .bash_profile; for zsh, it’s .zshrc. You can do this with a text editor, such as nano or vim, e.g., nano ~/.bash_profile.
  3. Modify the PATH: At the bottom of your shell profile file, add the following lines (replace the path if your SDK is located elsewhere):
    export ANDROID_HOME="$HOME/Library/Android/sdk"
    export PATH="$ANDROID_HOME/tools:$ANDROID_HOME/tools/bin:$ANDROID_HOME/platform-tools:$PATH"

    Note: Setting the ANDROID_HOME variable is beneficial for some third-party tools and frameworks.

  4. Apply the Changes: Save your profile file and apply the changes by restarting the terminal or by sourcing your profile file with source ~/.bash_profile or source ~/.zshrc, depending on which file you edited.

Once you’ve added ADB to your PATH, you should be able to run ADB commands from any directory in your Terminal.

Using ADB in the Current Directory

If you need to use ADB temporarily and don’t want to modify your PATH, you can do so by navigating to the platform-tools directory and running ADB from there using ./adb. For instance:

$ cd $HOME/Library/Android/sdk/platform-tools
$ ./adb --help

Repeato: Streamlining Your Test Automation

While configuring ADB is crucial for manual testing and debugging, automating these processes can save time and reduce errors. Repeato, our no-code test automation tool, can help with this. It allows you to create, run, and maintain automated tests for your iOS and Android apps without diving into complex scripting. Its intuitive interface and use of computer vision and AI make it easy to adapt to changes in your app’s UI, ensuring your tests remain robust.

Repeato is compatible with various app frameworks, including React Native, Flutter, and Unity. It features built-in ADB, enabling you to execute ADB commands directly within your test steps. This seamless integration simplifies the testing process, whether you’re a seasoned developer or a newcomer to app testing.

Learn more about how Repeato compares to Appium, a popular open-source test automation framework, and explore how Repeato can enhance your testing workflow.

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