How to easily root and unlock the Galaxy Nexus

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Google's third in the line, was the first to come with Android 4.x, the company's biggest upgrade to the operating system.

Outside of being the first smartphone to have the official Android 4.0, the Galaxy Nexus has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, a 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED screen with 1280x768 resolution and dual cameras 1.3/5 MP. The phone has a curved design, is 9.47mm thin and has an impressive no-shutter lag camera.

Additionally, the phone has NFC support and is the first device to have Android Beam, Google's use of NFC to share apps, games and other files with other Android users.

In the guide we will show you the easiest way to root the device (and unlock it for all GSM carriers) and have access to great applications like Titanium Backup and the recovery panel.

Introduction & Requirements

Software you must download
Wugfresh Galaxy Nexus Root Toolkit v1.3
Required: This is the only piece of software you will need for the guide, the Wugfresh Galaxy Nexus Root Toolkit v1.3. Download!

Getting Started with Drivers

To get started, have the Wugfresh kit downloaded and have your phone out. Do NOT plug in the phone into your computer until prompted to do so. This is important.

Install the program by double clicking GnexRootToolkit.sfx.exe as pictured. The contents will be extracted to your C: drive (most likely) or other home drive and also place a shortcut on the desktop. Double click to launch the program for the first time.

Get accustomed to the front page. If you are using a Galaxy Nexus with a SIM card, please select GSM/HSPA+. If you own the Verizon version of the device, make sure to select CDMA/LTE.

Click on Drivers to get the process started, as the Drivers are the most important part of this whole guide.

Upon clicking Drivers, the MSS Installation Wizard will pop up to install the Samsung USB driver, v1.4.6.

Next, you will be lead to remove old or non-working drivers that you may have already installed when you ever plugged in the device to the computer before today. Make sure to read through this screen thoroughly. If you have NEVER installed a Samsung device on the computer, press 2 to move to the next page. If you have already plugged in the Nexus in the past, or have installed another Samsung device, please press 1 to go into USBDeview.

When USBDeview pops up, follow the instructions on the previous screenshot and right click and uninstall and old drivers, especially the ones noted. If you selected the other option, you'll see the second screen.

After deleting the old drivers, the next prompt is to install the necessary drivers for Samsung. Select "Install anyway" when the security prompt comes up.

After installing, the next prompt will be to plug in your phone with USB Debugging enabled. Go to Settings > Developer options and enable it. Once plugged in, the next screen will find your device via ADB. If you do not see anything here, please head down to our "troubleshooting" section and continue from there.

Follow the Fastboot instructions here, as well. Once this is done, you are done installing the drivers and the rest is very simple.


The next step is to unlock the device before you can root it. If you have been using the phone you will NEED to backup the apps and data as this stage will wipe your device. Open the Toolkit and hit Backup apps + data to backup your info. If you have not used the device yet, you can skip the backup.

On top of just using the backup for the app data, to backup your pictures and music, plug the Nexus in and use the simple drag-and-drop feature to bring the files over to your computer, manually.

The unlocking process is very straightforward and does not require much more in-depth coverage. Once you have backed everything up, re-open the toolkit and head over to "Unlock." Follow the prompts to unlock your device to be used with all carriers on quad-bands.


Now that the drivers are installed, and the phone is unlocked, let's root the device. Open the toolbox again from the desktop shortcut and head down to "Root."

The next screen is an "introduction" into rooting. Plug in your device at this point, and make sure debugging is still enabled on the device. Once you've plugged it in, press any key to continue to the next prompt.

If your ADB device shows up, (it should if it did before), press 1.

The process will then flash ClockworkMod Recovery by pushing the ZIP file to the device. The phone will then reboot into the "bootloader" if successful.

In the bootloader, you should be able to see Fastboot. If you do, press 1, if your device doesn't show up press 2 and follow the guide to fix the issue on the screen.

ClockworkMod will then be installed/flashed to the system.

When successful, read the next page carefully and keep the above screenshot handy. You will be rooting the device in a 9-step process.

Click on the screens to see up close shots.

When completed, you need to permanently root the device. Press any button to move forward.

You have now successfully rooted your device, giving access to the fantastic Titanium Backup app, which I recommend purchasing the paid version of if you can afford.

Troubleshooting/Manually Installing Drivers

Here is a guide for anyone having issues with the drivers section:

Part 1: Configuring your adb drivers

Turn your device completely on, enable USB debugging, and connect your device via USB. To enable USB debugging: On your phone, settings > developer options > check USB debugging.

Open device manager: Start > type devmgmt.msc. Look for anything that resembles your device: It could say Galaxy, it could say Android device or something similar. If you can't figure out which one is your device, here is a good tip: Unplug your phone and then replug it while watching device manager actively. This will help you find out which one it is, even if the computer thinks its something else. At this point, make sure to uninstall the device by right clicking on the device and hitting 'uninstall.' Hit okay if asked to remove software associated with it.

Refresh devices by pressing the "Scan for hardware changes" button which looks like a small magnifying glass. The Nexus will now show up as a device with a yellow exclamation mark next to it or it will show up as Android/Samsung ADB device. If it shows up as an ADB device, you are all set here and move to Part 2.

If you have the exclamation point, right click the device and hit "Update Driver Software." Select "Browse my computer for driver software" and then "Search for driver software in this location."

Search the following place: C:\Wugs_GnexRootToolkit\data\drivers (or whatever your homedrive is).

Part 2: Configuring your fastboot drivers

Boot your phone into bootloader mode. To do so, turn your phone off completely and unplug it. Hold both the up and down volumes buttons and the power button. From here, connect your device via USB and then repeat the steps in part 1 beginning with the Device Manager part and ending with the "Search for driver software in this location" piece unless you see that the drivers are already configured as a working adb device.

​The only difference you will experience this time, is that when you get to the part with the un-configured device it will most likely be listed as "Android 1.0." Once you get the un-configured "Android 1.0" device configured and listed as an adb device, then test it by doing the following: Open command prompt (Start > cmd.exe > enter) and type: fastboot reboot-bootloader

If it reboots your bootloader and says "Okay" then you are all set.


That concludes our guide on how to root and unlock the excellent Galaxy Nexus smartphone. If you would like to discuss this guide or similar things, then please visit our Discussion Forums
Written by: Andre Yoskowitz