Google has unleashed the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update for Nexus devices, which means it will eventually hit all devices as an over-the-air (OTA) update. Unfortunately, that could take several weeks, which can feel like an eternity. The good news is that you can download the official OTA update straight from Google and manually install it yourself.

This might seem like a daunting task, so that’s why we put together this complete guide explaining exactly how it’s done. Just follow the steps outlined below, and you will be enjoying Marshmallow goodness in no time. You can even follow the same steps to install subsequent Android Marshmallow updates when they come out. We will add those update links as they get released, so be sure to bookmark this page for future reference.

There are actually two ways to manually update your Nexus device. The first option is to flash the factory image, which is like installing the complete Android software and firmware from scratch. This isn’t a bad way to go, but it requires a factory reset if your bootloader isn’t unlocked. You can check out our complete instructions for flashing the factory image here.

The second method is installing the OTA update, which is what this guide is about. This is the same exact update that Google will automatically send to your device at some point in the future. The only difference is that you will get it right away if you follow the steps below. We like this method, since a factory reset isn’t required. This means that you won’t lose your data, but we cannot stress enough how important it is that you back up all your important data in case some Fastboot goes wrong. So please make sure everything is backed up before proceeding.

 Installing ADB and Fastboot

Installing ADB and Fastboot

In order to send the OTA update to your Nexus device, you must have ADB and Fastboot installed on your desktop computer. ADB stands for Android Debug Bridge and it allows you to send commands to your Android device over USB through a terminal/command-line interface such as Windows Command Prompt. Fastboot allows you to flash images to your Android device. You don’t need Fastboot for these instructions, but we figured it deserved a mention, since it comes packaged together with ADB.

There are two methods to getting ADB and Fastboot on your computer. The first is to download and install the Android SDK tools from the Android developer site. This method will work for Windows, Mac, and Linux machines. If you’re a Windows user, you can download and install Minimal ADB and Fastboot instead, which is actually the easiest method. However, we recommend installing the Android SDK tools because it will also give you the Google USB drivers at the same time, which you will need in order for your computer to recognize your Nexus device. If you do decide to install Minimal ADB and Fastboot, you can still download the Google USB drivers separately. We will show you how to do that later.

Follow the instructions below for either installing the Android SDK tools or Minimal ADB and Fastboot.

Download and install the Android SDK tools

  1. Click here to download and install the Android SDK Tools from Google’s developer site. There are choices for Windows, Mac, and Linux. These instructions are for Windows machines.
  2. When asked what directory to install the software to, we recommend that you set it toC:android-sdk. If you choose a different location, just make sure you remember it.
  3. Once the Android SDK Tools are installed, launch it from the Start Menu.
  4. The SDK Manager will open. Just uncheck everything except Android SDK Platform-tools and Google USB Driver. Android SDK Platform-tools is at the top and Google USB Driver is toward the bottom.
  5. Click on Install 2 packages at the bottom right.
  6. Check Accept license and click Install.

ADB and Fastboot will now reside in the C:android-sdkplatform-tools folder if you followed step 2 as outlined. If you chose a different directory, than ADB and Fastboot will reside in the platform-tools folder under whatever location you chose to install the Android SDK Tools to in step 2.

Download and install Minimal ADB and Fastboot

  1. Click here to download minimal_adb_fastboot_v1.3.1_setup.exe from the XDA forums. Note: the version number could be different if a newer version is released after this post has been published.
  2. Launch the minimal_adb_fastboot_v1.3.1_setup.exe file.
  3. When asked what directory to install the software to, we recommend that you set it toC:android-sdkplatform-tools since we will be using that location for the rest of this guide. If you choose a different location, just make sure you remember it.
  4. Now it’s time to download the appropriate OTA zip file for your device and place it in the folder where ADB and Fastboot is. If you followed our instructions in the Installing ADB and Fastboot section, it’s in the C:android-sdkplatform-tools folder.

    Important: You want to make sure that your device is currently on the “From” Build Number that’s listed for each device. To see that, just open Settings > About Phoneand scroll down to About Phone. Now scroll down to the bottom and look at the Build Number. Make sure it matches the “From” listed below for the device that you’re upgrading.

  5. The zip file will have a rather large name, so feel free to rename it, so you don’t have to type out the entire file name in the CMD Window. Alternatively, you can paste it in the CMD prompt window by pressing ALT and the spacebar, then choose Edit before selecting Paste.

    Download the appropriate OTA zip file from one of the links below for your device, and make sure to place it in the folder where ADB and Fastboot is.

    Note: The Nexus 6, Nexus 9 Wi-Fi, and Nexus 9 LTE received security updates just before the first Marshmallow update. You will need to download and install that OTA update before installing the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update. We have links below.

    Nexus 5 (hammerhead)

    Nexus 6 (shamu)

    Nexus 6 (shamu) Project Fi version

    Nexus 6 (shamu) AT&T version

    Nexus 6 (shamu) T-Mobile version

    Nexus 7 (2013) Wi-Fi (razor)

    Nexus 7 (2013) LTE (razorg)

    Nexus 9 Wi-Fi (volantis)

    Nexis 9 LTE (volantis)

    Nexus Player (fugu)

    **Nexus 4, Nexus 7 (2012), and Nexus 10 devices are not expected to receive the Android Marshmallow update. We will add links for those devices if things change.

  6. Now you need to make sure USB debugging is enabled on your Nexus device. OpenSettings on your Nexus device. If  you do not see Developer Options toward the bottom of the Settings screen on your device, follow these steps to activate them.

    1. Tap on About Phone and find the Build Number.
    2. Tap on the Build Number seven times and the Developer Options will appear on the main page of the Settings.
    3. Tap on the Back key to see the Developer Options.
    4. Tap on Developer Options.
    5. Check to enable USB Debugging.

    Before you connect your device to the USB port on your computer, you want to make sure you have the appropriate drivers installed. You should be all set if you opted to install the Android SDK Tools. If you instead chose to install Minimal ADB and Fastboot, you can grab them here. Since you’re working with a Nexus device, you specifically want the Google USB Drivers. The download will be a zip file, so extract the contents where you wish, and remember the location.

    Now connect your device via a USB cable and you are ready to flash the zip file that you extracted earlier. If you’re connecting your Nexus device to your computer for the first time, you will get a popup box on your Nexus device stating what the computer’s RSA Key is. Just check Always Allow From This Computer and tap on OK.

  7. If your Nexus device doesn’t show the RSA key popup, then open the notification panel and select USB For Charging Only and change the mode to Transfer Photos (PTP).
  8. If your Nexus device still doesn’t show the RSA key popup, then follow these instructions:

    1. On your Windows desktop, go to your Control Panel then Device Manager.
    2. You should see your Nexus device under Other Devices with a Yellow ! mark on it.
    3. Right-click on it and select update driver.
    4. Choose Browse my computer for driver software, and choose the directory where the Google USB Drivers are. If you chose to install the Android SDK tools and followed our instructions, they should be in the C:android-sdkextrasgoogleusb driver folder. If you chose to manually download the Google USB drivers, just navigate to the folder that you archived the contents of the Zip file in.

    If your Nexus device still doesn’t show the RSA key approval popup, then open the command prompt on your desktop and navigate to the folder where ADB and Fastboot reside. If you followed our instructions from the Installing ADB and Fastboot section, it will be in the C:android-sdkplatform-tools folder. Just type cdandroid-sdkplatform-tools at the command prompt in Windows. If ADB and Fastboot are somewhere else, just navigate to that location instead.

  9. The RSA key approval popup should now be visible on your Nexus device. Just checkAlways Allow From This Computer and tap OK.

    Type “ADB devices” again, and you should get the following result with a different device key:

  10. Installing the over-the-air (OTA) update

    Installing the over-the-air (OTA) update

    1. Open the Command Prompt in Windows or Terminal on a Mac and navigate to the folder that ADB and Fastboot are installed in. Again, if you followed our instructions from the Installing ADB and Fastboot section, it will be in the C:android-sdkplatform-toolsfolder. Just type “cdandroid-sdkplatform-tools” at the prompt in Windows. If ADB and Fastboot are somewhere else, just navigate to that location instead. To make things easier, so you don’t have to type out long directories, you can also paste it by pressingALT and the spacebar, then choose Edit before selecting Paste.

    If you’re using a Mac, you need to add the platform tools directory to your $PATH. In terminal, type “sudo nano/etc/paths”Now enter your password and go to the bottom of the file and enter the full path of the “platform tools” directory. Hitcontrol-x to quit and enter Y to save.

    The following ADB commands are for Windows machines. If you’re using a Mac, just add “./” before each command, for example: “./adb reboot bootloader”.

    1. Assuming you device is already connected to your computer via USB and USB Debugging is enabled, you need to re-start it in fastboot mode. Follow one of the two methods below. Option A may be preferable because it’s another confirmation that your computer recognizes your Nexus device.

    A) Type “adb reboot bootloader”

    B) Turn your device off, then turn it back on while holding down the relevant key combinations for your device. For many devices it’s Volume Up + Volume Down + Power. You can see what your device’s key combinations are here.

  1. The  fastboot menu will appear and you should see Start in the top right. Press Volume Up till it changes to Recovery. Press the Power button to select it.
  2. You will see an Android with a red exclamation point icon, press and hold the Power key, then press the Volume up key to show the Recovery Menu.
  3. You will get a new menu. Navigate to apply update from adb and select it by pressing the Power button.
  4. In the command window — make sure you are in the directory where ADB and Fastboot reside — type: “adb sideload [the full name of the file].zip” without the brackets around the file name.
  5. The update will install and reach 100 percent.
  6. Reboot and enjoy the latest version of Android Marshmallow.
  7. Source