Google’s two new flagships, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, have been well-received by the internet. However, there’s always room for improvement, and that’s why many Android users are choosing to root the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL to maximize its potential.

Before you root your phone, you need to unlock the bootloader. Here’s how to do that on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL (thankfully, it’s pretty easy).

Why You Need to Unlock the Bootloader to Root

For those out of the loop, the bootloader is a piece of software on your phone that loads up the core Android operating system. You know how you see the BIOS screen for Windows before your PC boots up? That’s what the bootloader does for Android. By default, the bootloader will only load official firmware files from the device OEM. That means you can’t flash custom recovery images – like TWRP – right away. It won’t work. That’s why you need to unlock the bootloader.

What You Need

  • A Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL (not including Pixel 2 models purchased from Verizon)
  • A Windows PC or Mac
  • USB data cable

A Word of Warning

  • Unlocking the bootloader will wipe all data from your device and restore it to factory settings
  • Your phone will fail the SafetyNet test (although you can use an app like Magisk to fix this)
  • This method will not work on Pixel 2 smartphones purchased from Amazon
  • This will not void your Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL warranty

Step 1) Enable Developer Options

Your first step to unlocking the bootloader on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL is to enable developer options. You’ll need to enable the hidden Developer Options menu setting. This is the same process as with other Androids.

To do that, go to Settings > About Phone, then scroll down until you see Build Number. Tap that Build Number seven times in rapid succession until you see a message pop up.

Step 2) Enable OEM Unlocking

Press the back button to get to the About Phone menu. You should now see the “Developer Options” menu appear. Tap that option, the enable the switch next to the OEM unlocking setting.

Your Pixel 2 will confirm your identity with a PIN. Tap the enable button to confirm the section, and you’ve officially unlocked the bootloader. You can now accept the fastboot command that unlocks the bootloader.

Step 3) Restart Into Bootloader Mode

To restart into bootloader mode, you can use an ADB command. However, the easiest way is to restart your phone, wait for the screen to go black, then press and hold the volume down button. Keep holding until you see the bootloader menu, which has an image of a green Android robot being operated on.

 Step 4) Install Fastboot on your Computer

Install the latest version of Fastboot and ADB from Google. You can download the latest version of ADB and Fastboot here.

Step 5) Open a Command Window in your Platform-Tools Folder

Locate the platform-tools folder inside of your ADB and Fastboot installation directory (look in C:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk\platform-tools on Windows). Once you’ve found the folder, copy the location from the address bar, then open a command prompt. To open a command prompt, press the Windows button on your keyboard and type in cmd, then hit enter.

Once the command window is open, you’ll need to paste the folder location you copied above. To do that, type cd followed by a space, then paste the folder location you copied above.

Step 6) Unlock the Bootloader

You’re running the command prompt and it’s in the right folder. Now, the next step is to unlock the bootloader. To do that, follow these steps:

Pixel 2: On the Pixel 2, just type in the following command, then press enter: fastboot flashing unlock

Pixel 2 XL: On the Pixel 2 XL, type in the following command, then press enter: fastboot flashing unlock_critical

After you press “enter”, you should see a text screen popup on your phone. Use the volume keys to highlight the “unlock the bootloader” option on this menu, then press the power button to choose the option. Congratulations. You’ve successfully unlocked the bootloader on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL!

Ultimately, the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are some of the most modder-friendly phones available today. Unlocking the bootloader isn’t nearly as complicated as on other devices.

Thanks to our friends at Gadget Hacks for most of the information about unlocking the bootloader on the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL.

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