Wear Os is the most popular operating system used in modern smartwatches. Smartwatches have gradually become an essential lifestyle accessory, especially among those who want to track their daily activity and health. Being based on Android, Wear OS can be customized not only from watch settings but via ADB commands too. Using ADB, you can install and uninstall apps, push and pull files, customize watch settings, and do several other things. Since the Wear OS watches don’t have a USB C-type port, you can connect it to ADB over Wi-Fi. In this tutorial, we’ll check out how we can use ADB commands on Wear OS watches like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, Google Pixel Watch, and so on.
If you think you can’t use ADB commands on your Wear OS smartwatch because it doesn’t have a USB port, you’re wrong. Actually, an ADB connection can also be made wirelessly over Wi-Fi. Having enabled the Developer options and Wi-Fi debugging on your watch, you can control it from the interface of your PC using ADB. The tips given in this guide will work on smartwatches from brands like Samsung, Google, Oppo, Fossil, etc.
Connecting ADB to Wear OS Watch
If you are new to the ADB and Fastboot drill, you’ll have to go through each step listed below.
Install Android SDK Platform Tools on Your PC
In order to use ADB and Fastboot commands, the first thing you need to do is to set up the Android SDK Platform-tools on your Windows, macOS, or Linux system. It’s really easy as you just need to download the latest SDK Platform-tools.zip and extract the downloaded file to an easily accessible location on your computer.
Enable ADB Debugging in Wear OS
Now, it’s time to enable ADB debugging on your Wear OS smartwatch. The ADB debugging feature is a part of the Developer options which need to be turned on. By default, the Developer options remain hidden so that average users don’t access the sensitive settings. Anyway, let’s see how we can turn on the Developer options in Wear OS. The screenshots used in this tutorial have been captured on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5.
- Enable Wi-Fi on your watch and connect it to a network.
- Open the Quick Settings screen or the app drawer on your smartwatch and tap on the Settings (gear) icon.
- Navigate to About watch and tap it.
- On the next screen, go to Software info > Software version.
- Tap on the Software version 7 times in a row. Doing so will turn on the Developer option on your Wear OS Galaxy Watch.
- Now, press the back button and go back to the main Settings menu. You’ll see the Developer options listed there right above About watch. Tap on it.
- Look for the ADB debugging option in the developer menu and tap on it. When prompted, tap on the OK button to enable ADB debugging.
- Next, tap on the Debug over Wi-Fi option to turn it on.
- You’ll now see the IP address along with the port number of your WiFi network right below the Debug over Wi-Fi option.
- Note down the IP address as you’ll need it while connecting your watch via ADB over WiFi. Remember, the IP address and the port number are separated by a colon sign. Thus, if you see 192.168.1.7:5555 mentioned on the screen, the value before the colon (:) sign is the IP address, and the value after that is the port number. In my case, the IP address is 192.168.1.7.
Note: Please, don’t forget that keeping ADB enabled on your watch all the time will drink the device battery like juice. You are advised to keep the option disabled when not in use.
Steps to Connect Wear OS Watch to ADB over WiFi
Now that you have downloaded the SDK Platform-tools and enabled ADB debugging on your watch, it’s time to connect your computer to the device wirelessly.
- Open the platform-tools folder that you got after extracting the platform-tools_xxx.x.x-windows.zip earlier. Type “cmd” or “powershell” in the folder window address bar and press the Enter key. There are several other ways to open the Command Prompt in Windows.
- When the command prompt window is launched type
adb connect <ip>and hit the Enter key. Don’t forget to replace the IP address in the following command with yours.
adb connect 192.168.1.11
- Just as you press the enter key after typing the command, you’ll see a prompt on your watch asking you to authorize the ADB device. Tap on OK.
- Your smartwatch will be connected to the ADB wirelessly over Wi-Fi.
- Just to ensure that ADB can detect your watch and is properly connected, execute the following command.
- The command prompt will show the list of attached devices along with the IP address and port number of your smartwatch. It means that your watch is properly connected to your computer and is ready to accept ADB and ADB Shell commands.
Fixing ADB Connection Authentication Error or Wear OS
If you follow the steps to connect your Wear OS watch to ADB carefully, there is hardly a chance that you’ll encounter any connection error. However, if your watch and computer are not connected to the same Wi-Fi network, you might get the
failed to authenticate to <ip> error. To fix the issue, make sure that your watch is connected to an active Wi-Fi network.
If you still get the error, try the following tips:
- Restart your watch
- Make sure that both ADB debugging and Debug over Wi-Fi option are enabled.
- Verify that you have typed the correct IP address with the
List of Wear OS ADB Commands
Having settings up ADB on your computer and smartwatch, it’s time to reap the reward of your efforts. As I already mentioned above, you can do several things using ADB commands such as installing and uninstalling apps, pushing and pulling files, changing font size, and customizing settings. From this point onward, I’ll presume that your watch is connected to ADB wirelessly.
ADB Command to Install APK on Wear OS
Wear OS watches come pre-loaded with apps and watch faces. We can install more apps on our watch from the Play Store. Sometimes, we come across an app that is not available on the Play Store or is restricted to our country or region. ADB can come in handy in such situations and help you install that app if you have the APK file. The ADB install command for Wear OS lets you install or sideload apps.
- Download the APK file for the app you want to install on your app and transfer it to the platform-tools folder.
- Type the following command in the given format.
adb -s <ip> install <apk-name-with-extension>
- For example, if your IP address is 192.168.1.11 and the name of the APK is Phone.WearOS.SHM.MOD.apk, the command would be as follows.
adb -s 192.168.1.11 install Phone.WearOS.SHM.MOD.apk
- Having typed the command, press the Enter key.
- The app will be installed on your watch. You can install any APK using the ADB command given above.
Uninstalling Apps on Wear OS using ADB Command
One of the perks of ADB commands is that it lets you uninstall system apps on Android without root access. If you want to debloat your watch, you can use the steps mentioned below.
- Enable ADB on your watch and connect it to ADB using the
adb connect <ip>command as instructed above.
- Now type the following command and hit the Enter key to invoke the shell mode.
- Once the connection is turned into the ADB Shell mode, type one of the following commands to get a list of apps installed on your Wear OS watch.
pm list packages (List all apps)
pm list packages -s (List system apps only)
pm list packages | grep 'samsung' (List apps by group)
- When you execute one of these commands, you’ll get the list of apps. Below is a screenshot showing the list of system apps installed on the Galaxy Watch 5.
- Now that you have the full list of apps installed on your watch, you can easily get the app package name for the app you want to uninstall.
pm uninstall -k --user 0 <package name>and press the Enter key to uninstall any app from your watch. For example, if you own a Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and want to uninstall the Bixby Wake-up app, use the command as follows. (The ‘-k’ parameter in the command means “keep data’ of the uninstalled app. If you want to delete app data as well, you can remove the parameter)
pm uninstall -k --user 0 com.samsung.android.bixby.wakeup
You can not only install and uninstall apps using ADB commands but disable and re-install them also.
- Disable an app:
pm disable-user --user 0 <app-package-name>
- Enable a disabled app:
pm enable --user 0 <app-package-name>
- Re-install an uninstalled app:
pm install-existing <app-package-name>
ADB Commands to Push and Pull Files
Wear OS watches do have internal storage for storing files but the lack of a USB port makes it impossible to transfer files to the device from a PC. Thanks to the ADB we can push files to the watch and pull files from it using commands.
Pulling Files from Wear OS
You can pull any file or app from your Wear OS watch and save it to your PC. For example, if you want to pull an app from your watch, do as described below.
- Ensure that your watch is connected to your PC via ADB.
- Type the following command and press the Enter key.
- When ADB enters the Shell mode, execute the
pm list packagescommand to get the list of all apps. Copy the app package name you want to pull.
- Now type the command given below followed by the app package name to get the path of the app.
pm path <app-package-name>
- You will see the location path of the app package printed in the command window. Copy it.
- Finally, execute the following command to pull the app APK file from your watch to your computer.
adb pull <path-to-app-package>
- The pulled APK file will be saved to the platform-tools folder.
Pushing Files to Wear OS Watch
Recently, I heard a very sweet tune and had a strong urge to have it as the ringtone of my Galaxy S22 Ultra and Galaxy Watch 5. While it’s very easy to set a custom ringtone on an Android phone, the same is not true about a Wear OS watch. Thanks to the
adb push command I was able to transfer that MP3 file to my smartwatch and set it as a ringtone. Using the steps given below, you can set a custom ringtone, notification, or alarm tone on your watch. If you want to push any file to your smartwatch, this is how you can do it.
- I presume that your Wear OS watch is already connected to ADB.
- Download the MP3 file and transfer it to the platform-tools folder. Suppose you have to set the Believer song as your watch’s ringtone, use the following command to push it. Don’t forget to replace “Believer.mp3” with the name of the MP3 file you want to push.
adb push Believer.mp3 /sdcard/Ringtones/
- In case you also want to change the notification and alarm tones, you can use the following commands.
adb push Believer.mp3 /sdcard/Notifications/
adb push Believer.mp3 /sdcard/Alarms/
- Once the MP3 file is transferred to your smartwatch, restart it.
- When your watch boots up, open Settings and go to Sounds and vibration > Ringtone.
- Select the transferred audio file from the list to set it as your ringtone.
Changing Font Size in Wear OS using ADB Command
ADB commands can also help you customize the user interface elements such as font size and display density. If you want to change the font size of your Wear OS watch, you can easily make it smaller or larger by changing the value.
- Switch to the Shell mode by executing the following command.
- To find out the current font size of the font on your smartwatch, type the following command and hit the Enter key.
settings get system font_scale
- As you can see, the font size on my Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is 1.1. If I want to make the font larger or smaller, I’ll have to change the value accordingly. Depending on your preference, you can select one of the following values to set the font size.
- Thus, if you want to enjoy a bit larger font on your Wear OS watch, try the following value.
settings put system font_scale 1.15
ADB Command to Change the Display Size or DPI in Wear OS
By changing the DPI or display density, you can force your Wear OS watch to show more content on the display. While changing the font size only makes the device font bigger or smaller, adjusting the display density or DPI changes the size of all UI elements. With smaller density, you can accommodate more content on the compact screen of your Wear OS watch. Let’s see how to do it.
- Connect your watch to your computer via ADB over Wi-Fi.
- Verify the connection using the
- Then execute the following command.
- To know about the current or default display density of your watch, type the following command and hit the Enter key.
- The command prompt window will show the current display density which, in my case, is 340.
- Depending on your preference, you can change the display density to a different value. For example, if you want the display of your watch to show more content, you can change the value to 300, 240, or even 200. To change the display size, execute the following command.
wm density 240
- Below is a screenshot showing how the display of my Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 with the 340 (default), 300, and 240 display density.
- In case you want to revert to the default display density on your Wear OS watch, execute the ADB command given below.
wm density reset
That’s all for now! I’ll keep updating this tutorial with new Wear OS ADB commands. Try them on your watch and let us know whether they worked for you or not. In case you need any help, just drop a comment below.