How to List All Files on an Android Device Using ADB Shell

How to List All Files on an Android Device Using ADB Shell

22 April 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment Tech-Help

Working with Android devices often requires direct file system access. One common task is listing all files stored on the device. This guide will walk you through the process of listing files on your Android device using the ADB shell.

Using ADB Shell to List Files

ADB (Android Debug Bridge) is a versatile command-line tool that lets you communicate with an Android device. The adb shell command allows you to interact with the device’s file system.

Listing All Files Recursively

To list all files on the device, including those in subdirectories, use the following command:

adb shell ls -R /

Note that depending on your device’s configuration and permissions, you may need root access to list all files.

Filtering the File List

If you are looking for specific files or file types, you can combine the ls command with grep to filter the output:

adb shell ls -Ral / | grep -i "yourSearchTerm"

The -R flag lists directories recursively, -a includes hidden files, and -l provides detailed information. The -i flag for grep makes the search case-insensitive.

For example, to find a file named “myfile” anywhere on the device, you could use:

adb shell ls -Ral / | grep -i "myfile"

Accessing Specific Directories

If you know the directory you want to list, you can specify it directly:

adb shell ls -Ral yourDirectory | grep -i yourString

Replace yourDirectory with the path you wish to list and yourString with the filename or pattern you’re searching for.

Listing Hidden Files

The -a option in the ls command includes hidden files (those starting with a dot) in the output. To see hidden files alongside other file details, use:

adb shell ls -laR | grep "filename"

Utilizing Busybox

Some Android phones come with Busybox, a collection of Unix utilities bundled into a single executable. To check for Busybox:

adb shell ls -lR / | grep busybox

If Busybox is available, you can use its commands for more advanced file operations. For example:

adb shell
cd /sdcard
busybox find . -iname 'pattern*'

This command searches for files in the /sdcard directory that match the given pattern.

Working with Modern Devices

On newer devices or versions of ADB, you might encounter differences in how commands are executed. For instance:

adb shell 'ls /storage/emulated/0/ | wc'

This command counts the number of files and directories in the specified path.

Integrating with Repeato

When managing files on Android devices, especially for testing purposes, you might find yourself repeating tasks that could be automated. This is where Repeato comes into play. Repeato is a no-code test automation tool that can streamline your testing workflow for iOS and Android apps. With its built-in ADB support and script steps, Repeato allows you to incorporate ADB commands into your automated tests, making it easy to set up, execute, and maintain your tests without deep technical knowledge.

Whether you need to verify file presence, manipulate files as part of a test setup, or clean up after tests, Repeato’s intuitive interface and AI-powered capabilities can help you achieve more reliable and efficient test automation across different app frameworks.

In conclusion, mastering ADB shell commands is essential for direct file system access and management on Android devices. By combining these commands with powerful tools like Repeato, you can enhance your testing and development workflows significantly.

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