How to root, unlock the bootloader, install custom recovery on Nexus 5 in easy steps [Tutorial]

Before you root your device please understand that this can and most likely will void your warranty! Also keep in mind that when this procedure is complete, you will need to go through the phones initial setup process and reinstall your applications.


  • Google Nexus 5 with Android 4.4 Kitkat running (no modifications)
  • Enable USB Debugging on your Nexus 5: open Settings> About and go to Build Number. Then tap it for 7 times to activate Developer Options. Now return to settings and you will see Developer Options there. Tap it, turn it on by tapping the slider and check the box before USB Debugging.
  • Completely backup your Android Device, check out our guide on how to completely backup your Android device on PC without root access
  • Windows-based computer with Android ADB & Fastboot configured. See our guide on how to set up Android ADB and Fastbooot on Windows
  • CF-Auto-Root package for Nexus 5  (download from here)


Root And Unlock Nexus 5 Bootloader On Android 4.4 KitKat

Step 1: From the link above, download the CF Auto Root package and extract it to a convenient location on your PC.

Step 2: Power off your Nexus 5, disconnect from USB cable from computer and power it on back by pressing and holding Volume Up and Volume Down keys at the same time (Power + Volume Up + Volume Down). This will put your device in Fastboot mode.

Step 3: Connect the Nexus 5 in fastboot mode to the PC using USB cable, and navigate to the folder where you extracted CF Auto Root files.

Step 4:

For Windows: Simply double-click and run the file named root-windows.bat, and let the script do its work. Follow any on-screen instructions as prompted.

Once the script finishes running, your Nexus 5 will have both an unlocked bootloader as well as root access. Check for the availability of SuperSU APK in your app Drawer. Enjoy!


If you’re using a Linux PC instead of Windows, in step 4 you’ll have to run two commands instead of one:

  • chmod +x

The OS X commands are similar:

  • chmod +x

Script Terminal Output

$ cd ~/Desktop/CF-Auto-Root-hammerhead-hammerhead-nexus5
$ chmod +x
$ sh

----- CF-Auto-Root-hammerhead-hammerhead-nexus5 -----


Now that your device is rooted and the bootloader is unlocked, you can install apps like Titanium Backup or Root Explorer which require root access.

You can also install a custom recovery, which lets you install custom ROMs, make a complete backup of your device, or perform other advanced functions.

Installing TWRP custom recovery

There are a few popular custom recovery tools including ClockworkMod and TWRP, but I’m partial to TWRP which offers many advanced functions as well as a user-friendly, touchscreen interface.

The simplest way to install TWRP on a rooted phone is usually to install the GooManager app from the Play Store and choose “Install OpenRecoveryScript” from the settings menu.

As of November 6th, GooManager didn’t recognize that there was a version of TWRP available for the Nexus 5, so I had to install it manually. That’s not as scary as it sounds. You just need a working fastboot executable and the latest version of TWRP for the Nexus 5.

You can download the newest .img file from the TWRP page. It’ll be called something like openrecovery-twrp-

Next, if you’ve already installed the Android SDK on your computer, you’ll want to place the .img file in the directory where the fastboot.exe file hangs out.

Now we can use Multi-Tool. If you download and unzip it and navigate to the \Nexus 5 Multi-Tool\Working directory, there’s a fastboot.exe file in there.

So basically you can do this:

1. Download and unzip the Multi-tool.

2. Download the latest TWRP image file and place it in the “working” directory of the multi-tool.

3. Open a command prompt.

4. Navigate to the “working directory.”

5. Boot your phone into bootloader mode.

6. Type the following, without quotes: “fastboot flash recovery openrecovery-twrp-”

[Note that you should replace the name of the .img file with whatever version of TWRP you’re using]


When the process is complete, you should be able to boot into recovery mode a few different ways. From the bootloader screen you can use the volume and power buttons to choose “recovery.” Or you can install a third party app such as ROM Toolbox, Power Toggles, or GooManager which gives you the option of rebooting straight into recovery mode — these apps all require root access to do that.

Once you’re in TWRP recovery you can use it to backup your device, restore from a previous backup, wipe your device, flash updates, or make other system-level changes.

Of course, you could also use the multi-tool to automated the process for you a bit, but I like typing some of these commands out by hand, since it can make it a bit easier to keep track of exactly what it is I’m doing to my phone and to troubleshoot problems along the way.

As I mentioned above, the methods I just outlined are just some of the ways to root a Nexus 5, unlock the bootloader, and install a custom recovery.



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