How to flash the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OTA on your Nexus

Don't wait for Marshmallow! Get it now. Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

Don’t wait for Marshmallow! Get it now. Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

Google has finally made its Android 6.0 Marshmallow OTAs available to download, allowing users to update their devices manually rather than wait for it to reach them over-the-air. If you’ve never flashed an OTA manually, it can be a daunting task — but it’s actually very simple.

Here are the steps you need to follow.

1. Prepare your PC

Note: This guide is for Windows PCs only, and applies to Nexus devices running Google’s stock recovery. It also assumes you have backed up your important data, so if you haven’t already done that, do it now! We will publish a separate guide for Mac users later.

Before you attempt to side-load the Marshmallow OTA manually, you need to ensure your PC is ready to communicate with your Nexus device by installing Google’s device drivers and a tool called ADB. You can get these with the Android SDK, but if you don’t want or need to set all of that up, I recommend downloading the all-in-one 15 Second ADB Installer.

This will install both the drivers and ADB in one quick and simple process. Just follow the setup instructions on screen.

2. Download the Marshmallow OTA

Note: Marshmallow is currently only available for Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 9, and Nexus Player.

Once your PC is prepared, you’re going to need to download the Marshmallow OTA for your device from our previous post. Be sure you select the right one based on your device’s model number, and if your update comes in several parts, ensure you download them all.

For convenience, rename these files “,”,” and so on.

3. Enable USB Debugging on your Nexus

Open the Settings app on your Nexus, then scroll to the bottom and tap “About phone” or “About tablet.” Find your device’s “Build number” and tap it 7 times to enable the developer menu.

Press the back button until you return to the Settings app, then tap the “Developer options” menu you just enabled. Now enable “USB debugging.”

4. Connect your Nexus in fastboot mode

Your Nexus device and your PC are now ready to communicate with each other, but before you plug your Nexus in, you need to put it into fastboot mode.

To do this, turn your device off, then turn it back on while holding down the volume up button to enter the recovery. Now use the volume keys to scroll to “Recovery mode,” and press the power button to select it. In the recovery, select “apply update from ABD.”

Now plug your Nexus into your PC.

5. Start ADB

Go to the folder where your saved your Marshmallow OTA and open and command prompt by holding down the shift key, right clicking inside the folder, and selecting “Open command window here.”

To confirm your Nexus is detected correctly, enter the following command, then hit return:

adb devices

You should see a serial number followed by the word “device.” This confirms your Nexus is recognized. If you don’t see anything, then you may not have entered the recovery mode correctly, so repeat step 4. If this doesn’t work, try downloading Google’s device drivers and reinstalling them.

6. Transfer your OTA

To transfer your Marshmallow OTA to your Nexus device and begin the flashing process, type the following command and hit return:

adb sideload

Once the process is complete, restart your Nexus and enjoy Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Note: If your Marshmallow update comes in multiple parts, you will need to install them separately — and in the right order — using these steps. They may mean you have to repeat steps 4 through 6 again to install the second part.