How to root the Nexus 6

Yesterday I talked about why I rooted my Nexus 6. No, it wasn’t to run a custom ROM (though that’s a great reason to root your smartphone). No, it wasn’t so I could run a custom kernel (although that’s another wonderful reason to root as well). My reasons for rooting the Nexus 6 were much more basic: so I can run tools and utilities, and make configuration changes that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. Many of you mirrored my sentiment, and even listed off a lot of apps and utilities that you use thanks to rooting your own phones (thank you for that, by the way, I’ve got a whole lot more on my to-do list now). Many, however, hadn’t considered rooting, and asked the obvious question: how do I root the Nexus 6?

Prerequisites

If you’re unfamiliar with unlocking and rooting, we’ve got you covered in our Android Power User video: What are Unlocking and Rooting?

Next, like most Power User features, you’ll need to assume the risk. This will wipe your device, potentially open it up to malicious code (though that’s very unlikely), and cause unexpected awesomeness to occur. After that, you’re going to need a Nexus 6 (in this case), a high quality USB cable (since some cables only allow you to charge, and don’t let you transfer data), and a computer. The instructions here are specific to computers running Microsoft Windows, though they’re similar if you’re running Mac or Linux.

OEM Unlock

When I first got my Nexus 6, as soon as I booted it up the very first time, I OEM unlocked it, even though I didn’t root it for a few weeks. Why? OEM unlocking will wipe your device and all the data that you had on it.

Stop and read that again: OEM unlocking will wipe your device and erase all the data on it.

Since I didn’t want to get everything set up only to wipe and have to reload everything later, I OEM unlocked it right out of the box.

To do so, enable developer mode (by going to Settings, About Phone, and tapping on the Build number until it says you’re a “developer”), then enable USB debugging and “Enable OEM Unlock”. From there, connect your Nexus 6 to your computer via that high-quality USB cable. Once the drivers are installed (which should happen automatically), you’ll need to approve the connection and remember it for next time.

CF-Auto-Root

From there, download CF-Auto-Root from autoroot.chainfire.eu and extract the contents to your desktop, then reboot into Fastboot mode on your Nexus 6. To do that, turn off your phone, then reboot by holding volume down and the power button at the same time. When you feel a vibration, let go of the power button. Release the volume down key when you’re looking at a text-based screen.

That’s the hard part, the rest is all done by the tool (including OEM unlocking, if you’re not already unlocked).

Navigate to the folder where you downloaded and extracted CF-Auto-Root, then double-click on the file specific to your operating system (Windows, Mac, or Linux). Follow the onscreen prompts, and BOOM! You’re OEM unlocked and rooted!

Enjoy your newfound freedom, and if you need some ideas on what you can do once you’re rooted, make sure you go back and re-read why I rooted my Nexus 6.

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.