How to Install the Android 6.0 Marshmallow Update

Moments ago Google officially announced and confirmed Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the successor to Android 5.0 Lollipop that was released last year. This is a large but incremental update to Android 5.0. We’ve been testing the developer preview for months, and now it’s finally ready for prime-time. Below are a few instructions to install it right now, rather than waiting for the slow update process to complete.

Last week Google promised Android 6.0 would be available next week, and apparently they meant right at 9AM Monday morning, because it’s now readily available for the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 9, and the Nexus Player. Those on the developer preview 1, 2, or 3 will get an over the air update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

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Read: Nexus Android 6.0 Update: What to Expect

However, updates like this don’t arrive to everyone at the same time. In fact, Google rolls them out in slow waves starting with 20% of users, then 30-50%, then up to 80% and eventually everyone within two weeks. Instead of waiting, we’ll show you how to enjoy it right now. The Android 6.0 Marshmallow System Image is a download that contains all the files needed to install a stock version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow on the above mentioned devices. This is essentially everything that you would download as an OTA update for regular Android updates. Read on for all the details.

Android M vs Android L

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With Android 6.0 Marshmallow users will enjoy a variety of new features, improvements to battery life with a feature called Doze that promises nearly 30% increased standby time, especially with tablets. Not to mention Android Pay, native fingerprint support, multi-window mode, Google Now on Tap, USB Type-C ports, new volume controls, security enhancements and overall better performance. There is a lot going on behind the scenes, and only a few visual changes, but this is still a major update that all owners will want as soon as possible.

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Now that the factory images are official, manufacturers will start building updates for smartphones like the Moto X, LG G4, Galaxy S6 or Note 5 and hundreds of others. If you have a Nexus smartphone or tablet, you will get it this week, but can install it right now with the instructions below. Proceed at your own risk.

Read: Android M vs Android 5.1: What’s New So Far

This guide will show you how to install the final Nexus Android 6.0 Marshmallow software. This is something you can do from Windows, Mac, Linux or ChromeOS. There are multiple ways this can be done, and lots of things that can go wrong, but below are the easiest steps without spending hours setting up all of Google’s developer software.

How to Install ADB on Windows, Mac, Ubuntu & ChromeOS

Before you can install Android 6.0 Marshmallow on the Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 or others you will need to install ADB and Fastboot to your computer. This is a program that runs on your PC/Mac to connect to your Android device through a USB cable and flash the Android software to your device.

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Installing ADB and Fastboot is one of the most difficult parts of installing Android factory images, but several simple tools make it incredibly easy. Our tools below bypass all the trouble and streamline the process.

How to Install ADB on Windows

Use this tool to install ADB and Fastboot on Windows in seconds.

If you are using a Windows machine, including up to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 you can use the 15 second adb installer to streamline the process.

Download the ADB installer for Windows. Find the file, right-click on it and choose Run as Administrator. When prompted you need to give the app access to run as an administrator. After the app launches type a Y and enter to select yes to Install ADB & Fastboot, to intsll ADB/Fastboot systemwide and to install Drivers. When a new window pops up follow the steps to install the drivers.

After this is installed you should be ready to install the Android 6.0 on a supported Nexus device.

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How to Install ADB on Mac, Linux & ChromeOS

This tool installs ADB on Mac, Linux and ChromeOS easily.Nexus Tools makes it easy to install ADB on a Mac, Linux or even ChromeOS. All you need to do is open Terminal on your computer and past in the code from xda. Open terminal by going to search, and simply typing Terminal and opening the program.

This will install ADB and Fastboot on Mac, Linux and Chrome OS without the need to do anything else. It’s extremely easy, and avoids all the ADB package mess that typically takes hours to complete.

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After the script completes you can type ADB or Fastboot to start running either program. This is where you’ll need to be to flash the new Android 6.0 system images provided by Google onto your device. Remember to head into settings > developer options and enable USB Debugging first.

How to Install Android 6.0 Marshmallow Right Now

The first thing you need to do is download the just released Android 6.0 Marshmallow System Image (Factory image) for your device. You can find them at the links below. You’ll have to agree to the terms, and then proceed. Make sure you download the right one, especially for mobile tablets.

You will need to unzip these files to a folder you can access, we just unzipped it to our Mac desktop. After you have the Android 6.0 system image unzipped you will need to find this folder and type cmd into the address bar on Windows, or open terminal and change the folder to this folder on Mac, Linux or Chrome OS. Reminder, if you’re on a MAC you need to make sure terminal is running inside the folder you just unzipped.

If your Nexus is not bootloader unlocked you should do that first. We could not install any Android M images and update with the device locked. This will wipe your device and erase all user data, settings, pictures, etc. Repeat, this will erase everything!

Open a Terminal in the adb folder and type the command below then hit enter.

adb reboot bootloader

In Fastboot type:

fastboot oem unlock

Then hit enter. Follow the on-screen instructions and choose to erase the device. Wait a minute or so for it to unlock. This removes everything on your device.

You can install the Android L Beta using these directions.

Flash Android 6.0 Marshmallow Images

Now open the folder containing the unzipped Android 6.0 Marshmallow System Image file you just downloaded. Type cmd in the address bar. Type the following commands posted below and hit enter. On a Mac you can open Terminal in the folder by enabling terminal shortcuts in settings. This is key for Mac users. Head to System Preferences and select Keyboard > Shortcuts > Services. Find “New Terminal at Folder” in the settings and click the box. Now when you’re in Finder, just right-click a folder and you’re shown the open to open Terminal. Or just do it from the desktop where you unzipped the Factory image as shown below.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 1.46.08 PM

Once in terminal simply copy and paste the commands below to install Android 6.0 to your Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7, Nexus 9, or even the Nexus Player.

flash-all.bat

This will flash all of the needed files. If you are on a Mac or other computer you will need to type;

sudo ./flash-all.sh

This will push all of the files and update your device to the just released Android 6.0 Marshmallow final software. The files will start pushing and installing and your Nexus device may reboot and you will see an Android figure and then a moving Android logo. The logo screen may stay for a long time. Don’t unplug the device. You may run into an issue, which we did and will explain below.

Read: Android 5.0 Tap N Go Restores Your Phone in Minutes

Update: Many users may experience a “missing system.img” error and the installation will be aborted. This is because the way you’re trying to flash the update. Instructions on how to get around this can be found right here. Essentially users will need to unzip the update.zip folder and move all the images to the original folder we mentioned above, then manually flash them one by one starting with the bootloader, then the radio, vs the flash-all command mentioned above. Only do this if you run into issues.

When the process finishes you can enter your information or Gmail account and start using Android 6.0 Marshmallow right now on Nexus smartphones and the Nexus 9 tablet. Give Google’s Tap n Go (automatically restore) a try using NFC to automatically restore and all apps, settings, accounts and more from another device. Then we’d recommend long-pressing the home bottom to turn on Google Now on Tap, which is one of Android 6.0’s best new features.

Android6-M-release

For those who’d rather not mess with this scary stuff, we’re expecting the official Android 6.0 update to start rolling out over the air today, and through the next week or so. Google promised a 3rd quarter release date for Nexus smartphones and tablets, and that time-frame ended a few days ago. Google confirmed the updates would start this week, so stay tuned for an over the air update notification, accept it, and enjoy the latest software.

For now this is the fastest way to get Google’s new Android 6.0 release, but updates shouldn’t be far behind. Those who’d rather not wait can try the steps above, or sit tight for just a little bit longer. Then hopefully all major manufacturers can deliver software updates for their devices before the end of the year as well.