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How to Root the Nexus 7 & Unlock the Bootloader



The Nexus 7 tablet delivers Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at an affordable price and in an easy to root and unlock package.

One of the best parts about owning an Android tablet is the ability to root the Nexus 7 and install tweaks and hacks to deliver extra functionality.

While Jelly Bean delivers support for a lot of the reasons I used to root my Android phones, the first thing I did when I took my Nexus 7 out of the box is unlock the Nexus 7 bootloader and root the Nexus 7.

From here I can install new ROMs and customizations as well as run apps that require root access. Unlocking the bootloader voids the warranty, but this process is relatively safe, and the same tool can lock the bootloader and return the Nexus 7 to stock if you need a warranty replacement for hardware damage.

Rooting the Nexus 7 is simple thanks to the Nexus Root Toolkit, which is as close as you can get to an automated 1-click root and unlock tool. The tool handles the following actions.

  • Installing the drivers needed to root and unlock the Nexus 7.
  • Unlocking the Nexus 7 without the need to use ADB by hand.
  • Rooting the Nexus 7 with one click.
  • Installing a custom recovery.

The toughest part is installing the drivers, which may take a few tries, but the Nexus 7 Root Toolkit helps you work through any issues.

To get started, download and install the Nexus 7 Root Toolkit to the default location.

Before you get started, you’ll need to not the model of your Nexus 7.

  • Tap on Settings ->About Tablet – Build Number
  • You’ll see something like JR003D.
  • Don’t worry if yours is slightly different.

Next, turn on Developer Options and USB Debugging.

Nexus 7 root guide

Turn on developer options to root the Nexus 7.

  • Tap on Settings – > Slide Developer options to On
  • Check the box next to USB debugging

Right click on the Toolkit icon and Run as Administrator.

Click on Full Driver Installation Guide – Automatic + Manual.

How to Root Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 Toolkit roots and unlocks the Nexus 7.

Follow the steps to install the drivers. This guided process may take several tries, just be sure to follow the directions and you should be ready to root the Nexus 7 in about 10 minutes.

The video below covers the entire Nexus 7 unlock and root process, on both the device and the computer. I suggest using a Windows 7 computer if you have one handy.

After the drivers are installed, you can unlock the Nexus 7.

To do this, click on Unlock on the toolkit.

This will erase everything on the Nexus 7, which is why it’s a good idea to do this as soon as you get the Nexus 7.

When prompted, use the power button on the Nexus 7 to approve of the unlocking which looks like the image below.

Nexus 7 unlock

Confirm that you want to unlock the Nexus 7 bootloader.

When this process completes, you are ready to root the Nexus 7.

If you want to install Clockwork Recovery, Select Permanent CWM below Root. If you wish to install Team Win Recovery Project, choose Do not flash CWM. I chose to follow Liliputing’s advice and use the touch friendly TWRP custom recovery.

Click on Root.

The Nexus 7 will restart, and appear to be done after a minute.  — DO NOT UNPLUG or use it.

After a short time the Toolkit will prompt you to check for Super User and install Busybox to confirm that the Nexus 7 is rooted.

Confirm that both work and you now have an unlocked and rooted Nexus 7.

Installing additional Nexus 7 updates direct to your device may cause you to lose root.



  1. Bud R

    07/24/2012 at 7:48 am

    cant install adb….error?…using win7 and nexus7 16gb

  2. Ged Matthews

    07/24/2012 at 9:00 pm

    Follow easy full instructions here, as I had issues with drivers. Great video tutorial

  3. neato

    09/05/2012 at 3:17 pm

    Excellent tutorial, had no problems at all. Thanks a bunch

  4. Mrs Yvonne Woolley

    09/22/2012 at 2:18 am

    I am petrified if I do something wrong!! Will I never be able to use my nexus 7 again?
    I am over 65 now and not a real novice but also not a tech head either, PLEASE ADVICE

    • David

      09/29/2012 at 5:19 pm

      @Mrs Yvonne Wooley… If you are petrified, it is best to allow someone else do it, such as one of your grandkids. They, or one of their experienced friends, will view the tutorial provided and have this done as instructed. things like this are done every day by them. Once rooted, you can use the same root tool kit to reverse the procedure. Also, as it states at bottom of article, installing additional Nexus 7 updates direct to your device may cause you to lose root. So, this procedure may have to be repeated after updates are installed.

      • David

        09/29/2012 at 5:32 pm

        @Mrs Yvonne Wooley.. Also, there is a “Premium” app called Nexus Media Importer that costs $2.99 that allows you to use the USB for accessing storage devices WITHOUT rooting your Nexus 7. They claim to be the only app available that allows you to do this without rooting. They have nearly 5 stars and over 10,000 downloads. They allow you to perform a basic test for free by installing the Nexus Photo Viewer and pulling digital images from storage devices. It uses the same programming, but without the ability to pull other types of digital content such as video formats. Once you see that it works, you will know that the “Premium” app Nexus Media Importer will work as well and will be worth the cost.

  5. Sai Kyaw Han

    10/11/2012 at 9:59 pm

    I have rooted my Nexus 7 successfully on last weekend. After 3 days, I cannot power on my tablet. It appears only the “Google” and a “Lock” at the bottom, About 10 seconds later, the screen becomes blank. But a faint light was still on. I have tried pressing “Power” button with “Volume Minus” button. Then it pops up an Android picture and it shows 4 options to choose by pressing “Volume” buttons. The options are Start, Recovery, Reboot and Power Off.
    I have tried with all. But the Android OS is not on.
    What should I do? Is my Nexus gone??
    Thanks in Advance

    • Big Mack

      01/13/2013 at 8:14 pm

      I suggest that you download the Nexus Root Kit (mentioned in the article) and choose the option to return to stock. That should flash the correct firmware and give you a working tablet. You could then try the method above to root the tablet.

  6. brandon

    01/14/2013 at 1:33 pm

    Lol it took me a half hour to get the drivers ready

  7. Thomas

    04/11/2013 at 2:11 am

    Can’t stand Nexus be it 4 or even 7 it ain’t that quick anyway i gotta go get my self the new galaxy s4 this time :)

  8. Nilotpal

    05/22/2014 at 1:35 am

    What if I wish to root only and not unlock?! How can i do so?

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