Efficiently Pulling Multiple Files with ADB

Efficiently Pulling Multiple Files with ADB

22 April 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment Tech-Help

Working with Android’s ADB (Android Debug Bridge) can sometimes be a bit of a challenge when it comes to transferring multiple files from a device. This article will guide you through the process of pulling multiple files using ADB in a way that is both efficient and effective.

Using ADB to Pull Multiple Files

ADB doesn’t support wildcards natively when pulling files, which can be inconvenient if you’re trying to transfer numerous files that follow a specific naming pattern. However, with a little ingenuity and command line magic, we can easily accomplish this task.

Method 1: Using xargs and adb shell ls

This method involves using the adb shell ls command, which does accept wildcards, in combination with xargs to pull files matching a specific pattern.

Here’s how to do it:

# Using a relative path
adb shell 'ls sdcard/gps*.trace' | tr -d '\r' | xargs -n1 adb pull

# Using an absolute path 
adb shell 'ls /sdcard/*.txt' | tr -d '\r' | sed -e 's/^\/\///' | xargs -n1 adb pull

Method 2: Pulling a Directory

If all files are in a single directory, you can pull the entire directory, and ADB will recursively transfer all files within it.

adb pull /sdcard/gpsTraces/ .

This approach is straightforward and doesn’t require additional processing of the file list.

Method 3: Using find Instead of ls

To avoid potential issues with parsing the output of ls, we can use the find command:

adb shell 'find /sdcard/ -name "gps*.trace" -print0' | xargs -0 -n 1 adb pull

This method is more robust and handles filenames with spaces or special characters more gracefully.

Integrating with Repeato

When working with automated testing, managing files and test artifacts is crucial. Our product, Repeato, offers seamless integration with ADB and can handle test artifacts efficiently. Repeato is a no-code test automation tool that can create, run, and maintain automated tests for iOS and Android apps.

With its fast editing and test execution capabilities, Repeato can greatly simplify the process of pulling test artifacts from devices. It’s compatible with all sorts of app frameworks and allows you to execute ADB commands via script steps, making it an ideal tool for managing test-related files on Android devices.

Learn more about how Repeato can streamline your mobile app testing by visiting our product page on Repeato vs. Appium.


Transferring multiple files from an Android device need not be a tedious process. By using the above methods, you can pull multiple files with ease. Whether you choose to pull an entire directory or use command line utilities to select specific files, ADB provides the flexibility needed to get the job done efficiently.

For further reading and additional ADB tips, check out our articles on Launching Android Applications via ADB and Managing ADB Shell with Multiple Connected Devices.

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