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Update A Nexus Device To Android 6.0 Marshmallow

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Last year when Android 5.0 Lollipop came out I didn’t want to wait for an over-the-air (OTA) update so I flashed my Nexus device manually. I wrote about this experience in a previous post. This time I upgraded my Android operating system to the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow release.

We’re going to see how to upgrade a Google Nexus device to use a vanilla version of the Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system.

WARNING: Manually updating your firmware can and probably will wipe all user data, including files, from your device. Make sure to back up your device before proceeding with this guide.

You should note that only the following devices will be able to be updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow from Android 5.0 Lollipop using a factory image:

  • Nexus 5
  • Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Nexus 6
  • Nexus 9

If you have something not on this list, you’re unfortunately out of luck.

With this in mind, head over to the official Google website and download the appropriate image. For anyone who has been keeping up with my articles, you’ll know I’m a Macintosh guy, so these instructions are geared towards people running Mac OS. The previous tutorial for flashing Android 5.0 Lollipop was with Ubuntu Linux.

This tutorial assumes that you have already installed the Android SDK on your machine and configured it in your PATH. The Android SDK contains ADB and Fastboot, which are essential to this upgrade process.

With the appropriate factory image downloaded, extract it and run the following from the Terminal with your device connected:

adb reboot bootloader

The above command will reboot your device to the bootloader. You can do the same thing using a key combination if you prefer. If you are using a Nexus 5 like I was, you can press the power + volume up + volume down keys all at once when you power the device on.

If this is your first time manually flashing your device you’re probably going to need to unlock the bootloader. This can be done by running the following from the Terminal with your device booted into the bootloader:

fastboot oem unlock

It is now time to flash your device with Android Marshmallow. With your device connected and on the bootloader screen, run the following with your Terminal from the extracted factory images directory:


Android 6.0 Marshmallow will begin installing. It should take around 5 to 10 minutes to install and then 5 to 20 minutes to configure when it reboots.

If you care about security, you will want to lock your bootloader when everything is complete. This can be done by running the following from your Terminal:

fastboot oem lock

If everything went well, you should now have the latest version of Android, leaving everyone you know waiting for the OTA update.

Nic Raboy

Nic Raboy

Nic Raboy is an advocate of modern web and mobile development technologies. He has experience in C#, JavaScript, Golang and a variety of frameworks such as Angular, NativeScript, and Unity. Nic writes about his development experiences related to making web and mobile development easier to understand.