How to Root Your Nexus 5—An Easy Guide for First-Timers
It's time. You've experimented with apps from the Play Store, you've switched your lock screen, and maybe you've taken different launchers out for a spin. If, throughout your tinkering, you've found yourself chanting, "More. More. Give me more!" then now is the time. It's time to root.
Rooting opens up a new realm of possibilities for your device. With a rooted device, you can install apps from Google Play that allow for even deeper customization. For example, apps like Hola let you unlock Netflix's full video catalog, and Rec. lets you record video of your screen.
You can also flash custom ROMs (operating systems) like AOKP and Firefox OS that can completely change your Android experience, as well as install two totally different systems, and even mods like the LG G2 home launcher.
The big 'R' word can be intimidating for first timers, but don't let it be! Rooting can be easy, and on a Nexus, it's even easier. Stick around and I'll show you how you can root your N5 with a quick download that does all the hard work for you.
And don't worry, if you ever find out you don't like having a rooted device, unrooting your Nexus 5 is fairly easy.
On your Nexus head to Settings -> Developer options, then check the box marked USB debugging, which will allow your Windows PC to issue commands to your device.
If you don't see the Developer Options section, you're going to have to go to the About phone section in the Settings menu, scroll to the bottom, and tap on Build number repeatedly until you unlock it.
We're going to use Android developer Chainfire's rooting tool CF-Auto-Root, which will do most of the heavy lifting for us. Take your computer's web browser to this link and download the .zip file from the bottom of the page.
Power down your N5 then boot into bootloader/fastboot mode by holding in the Volume Down and Power key at the same time. You should see a black screen with a picture of the Android mascot on his back.
Connect your device to your PC with a micro USB cable. Now navigate to the folder where you unzipped the CF-Auto-Root file. While within the the folder, hold down the Shift key, right-click, then select Open command window here.
In the command window type: root-windows.bat
The command window will guide you the rest of the way. It will first attempt to unlock your bootloader, a necessary step for rooting.
Be warned: if your bootloader is not already unlocked, this process will erase all the data on your device, essentially leaving you with the original factory settings.
If you're not sure if your bootloader is locked or unlocked, simply take a look at your device. At the bottom it will either read: Lock State - Unlocked or Lock State - Locked. If you want to unlock your bootloader before continuing, check out my guide before moving forward.
Once you issue the command, all that's left to do is sit and watch the magic happen.
Your phone will reboot with a red Android logo. Congratulations and welcome aboard. You are now rooted.
You can now download root-only apps as well as custom recoveries that you can use to customize your device beyond your wildest dreams. Check back soon for easy tutorials and for the fun to really begin.
The most common issue folks have is that the root-windows.bat command fails. If you run into this, it's most likely the result of not having the proper fastboot drivers for your N5. You could try installing the Universal Naked Driver; the latest one being Universal_Naked_Driver_0.73.zip.
If you're having any problems, let me hear about it in the comments and I'll do my best to lend a hand.