Protip: Bash Autocomplete for Android ADB

Jesse Chen • February 17, 2012 2 min read



This is a super quick tip that will only take 1 minute to make your android development so much easier.  Android Debug Bridge (adb) is a command-line tool that lets you interface with an emulator or an android device.  Its great and previously I wrote about how you can debug your Android app wirelessly on your device.  What sucks though is that you can't tab autocomplete commands (e.g. type adb d then tab and bash will autocomplete and fill out adb devices), which means having to look up adb commands to figure out what you want and/or wasting time by typing the whole command (every ms counts!).

This protip will get you setup with bash autocomplete for ADB in less than 1 minute.  Ready?  Here we go.


  • Download the adb bash completion file here from Roman's repo.  Another good one is here on github by mbrubeck.
  • Store the file somewhere safe.  Anywhere you want. I chose /bin.
  • Use your favorite editor of choice (which should be vim) to edit your ~/.bashrc file.
  • Add the following lines (substitute your own path to the adb bash completion file) to the end of your ~/.bashrc file:
if \[ -e /bin/adb.txt \] ; then source /bin/adb.txt fi
  • Save and quit.  In your terminal, type source ~/.bashrc to reload your bash.
  • Check if it works.  Type 'adb d' and press tab to see if it autocompletes to 'adb devices'.

And that's it!  I've been looking for something like this for a long time.  Hope it helps you as much as it did for me. :)

© 2021, Jesse Chen • 0550d57