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Ask Dr. Root: The Top Apps for Rooted Devices

I was gonna dive deep into the world of modding this week, but thought with the growing population of readers rooting  and wondering where to go from there I’d go back to basics. With that being said, let’s cover some essential root apps that will make your life a lot easier.

ROM Manager

Screenshot of ROM Manager Screenshot of ROM Manager

This is your one stop shop for the majority of your rooting needs. You can create backups, flash new ROMs and apply new themes all in one place. We highly recommend grabbing the paid version to unlock some bonus features.


Want to show off all those cool themes and ROMs you are using?  Shootme is where it’s at.  Simple to use and handy to have, you’ll be filling up your SD card with all sorts of pics.


You could say this is the sister to ShootMe and is just as easy to use.  Only problem with drocap2 is the little camera icon it puts in the notification bar when snapping shots.

Either one of these should do just fine, but my personal favorite is ShootMe.

Root Explorer

The swiss army knife of file managers. This is a powerful app and gives you unfettered access to all of the files residing on your phone. A word of caution:  If you delete something you shouldn’t have with this it is gone for good. Please make a backup of your current ROM before messing with a program of this caliber.


Screenshot of SetCPU for Root Users Screenshot of SetCPU for Root Users

Not for every rooted phone. That being said if you have an orignal Droid or an Android phone that allows kernel replacement, then this is a must have. Battery life and performance improvment is what this app is all about.

Terminal Emulator

Screenshot of Android Terminal Emulator Screenshot of Android Terminal Emulator

A command line interface for your mobile phone or better yet, “ADB mobile.”  The only caveat to this is you cannot use it with system files because they are running while this app is in action. Any other files are free game though.

Wireless Tether

Screenshot of Wireless Tether for Root Users Screenshot of Wireless Tether for Root Users

Last but not least this is a great utility for your mobile phone. With Wireless Tether you can have an internet connection for your laptop or other wireless device wherever you go.

Any others we missed that you would recommend?

-Dr. Root aka MrPicolas.

  • Ddd

    I always find the best android apps for mine.Lucky,Now I have got the best android apps here. Thanks for your sharing.http://www.mybestandroidapp.com

  • RedBank

    Two musts haves:

    Titanium Backup

  • tbeavist

    MrPicolas can we get straight up answer on exactly how to use setCPU? like how far to overclock it, profiles, everythinggg! I'm sure everyone would love to see that article!

  • mathees

    barnacle wifi tether is better than wireless tether

    • i wouldn't necessarily say better. barnacle has less features (especially no encryption on 2.2) and is less polished than wireless tether. but, alas, it does work without a custom kernel.

      • Gadgetskopf

        I was unaware wireless tether required a custom kernel. I guess I've just always used one. I started using it when I tried Bugless Beast 0.5. It worked so much better for me than barnacle, I decided to stick with it when I went back to Sapphire 1.1.1. Since it was pre-installed on BB, I just restored it to Sapphire and never went to look at the support page for requirements. Guess I got lucky it works with the Sapphire kernels, huh?

    • Gadgetskopf

      I wanted to like barnacle better, I really did. After all, it has a much more entertaining icon ;->

      But for some reason my laptop has an easier time connecting to wireless tether than to barnacle. I'm sure this is a failing of my laptop's wireless and not barnacle, but I have to stick with what works better for my current situation.

  • The X is not supported by Wireless Tether yet correct?

  • I prefer connectbot to terminal emulator. It's got a lot more features, including SSHing into other hosts.

  • trumpet444

    Easy way to not have the camera icon using drocap. Turn off toast notifications within SU settings and when drocap asks for SU permission, allow but dont check to remember. Then you get a screen capture without the cam icon in your notification bar or toast telling you drocap has been granted su permission!

  • Busybox?

    • it would be a little redundant. roms come with busybox built in, and apps that need it will install it on their own (i.e. titanium). there is very little chance you would actually need the busybox app.

  • Cyclej

    Estrongs FIle Explorer is free and seems to work as well or better than Root Explorer if you run CM6. Check it out.

  • VanZandt

    I love wireless tether, I've got it running my xbox live with hardly any lag…sucks when someone calls though..

  • Nathan

    I use adbWireless for all my adb commands. Its easier then trying to find a usb cable, lol.

  • Stephen D

    Titanium Backup needs to be on this list. It has saved me multiple times.

  • Smooth

    Thanks! I did not know about “Shootme”

  • timarnette

    I only want to root my X. Seems I am not the only one with this question. Can someone please help??

  • RoadsterHD1

    You know we need is an app to watch Netflix streeming on our Droids. I*ouch and i*hone have it. Unless I'm missing something….

    • Travillion

      Seriously, I keep waiting…

    • The netflix app comes preinstalled on the new logitech google tv box, just a matter of time before it gets loose or hits the market…

  • WAldenIV

    AdFree is also a must for rooted devices.

  • Is root explorer a replacement for eStrongs or Astro or is one of those needed in conjunction with it?

  • I like Barnacle Wifi Tether as an alternative to Wireless tether. it has a better UI and accomplishes the same affect, all the while keeping you secure with approved access.

    • pcguru30

      do you know if it works with the droid X? I'm about to upgrade and the Android Tether i'm seeing has sporatic issues with Droid X

      • Dave

        It's worked fine for me so far 😉

  • The350zWolf

    Great summary Dr. R!

  • itzkr0me

    Wireless tether has saved me on more than few occassions. Love it.

  • k1cks

    If wireless tether worked for my psp I'd be happy…

  • idk why Titanium Backup isn't up there, its by far the most important root application.

    • jahpickney

      And it also supports batch move apps to sd for us Droid 1 owners

  • Srgolub

    Min Free Manager – allows you to set minimum thresholds for different types of memory use. When the specific threshold is exceeded, Android shuts down programs or clears them from memory. Much better and more effective than any task killer. Significantly improves responsiveness.

  • pcguru30

    maybe Titanium Backup? Root explorer I believe does the same thing But Titanium Backup I think makes it lses likely for you to brick your phone if all you want to do is remove bloatware

  • Zippy

    Wireless tether sucks. The wired tether app is much faster, more reliable and doesn't run the phone as hot.

    • jason6g

      sounds like someone needs to try a new rom… im running sapphire and my phone doesnt get above 100f when tethering. granted i usually tether for 20-30minutes at a shot, but i can pull down about 1.5m and upload at about 200k. dont know whats faster & easier. not to mention ya dont HAVE to have a cable handle & drivers all setup

      • Zippy

        What difference does the ROM make? Oh right, NONE because there are no source code modifications being made.

        Sapphire is no different than stock where it counts – it just has some added bells and whistles and a cute little theme.

        For the record I run Cyanogen Mod. It’s the only REAL mod there is – meaning substantial changes to the source code.

        • jason6g

          Consider this… (sounds like an allstate commercial?) You are running cm6, and complaining about how much tethering sucks because your phone gets hot. you run flash on a website and complain about how hot your phone gets. someone makes the suggestion to try a rom & kernal that runs nice and cool regardless of what you are doing and you flame them. sounds like an apple, oopps i mean, cm fan boy to me! making statements with no basis to them. i dont care what developers do to the code, as long as it WORKS WELL i am happy.

          so enjoy running your only “real mod” available with its substantial changes to the source code (settings.apk & framework.apk) and having your phone idle at >90f and ill enjoy my sapphire that loads faster, runs smoother, all while not idling more than 75f.

          mind you i am tired of people pushing half ass themes left and right ripping one anothers work. however i see a few actual developers out there. pete, cm, cvpcs (sapphire), jrummy (lithium mod), and insane. all of them work well, i am a bit biased to the sapphire and lithium series, mainly because i havent had any issue! both run fast (sapphire is faster imo) and both are very stable and free of bugs (lithium takes the cake here)

          every revision of cm i have tried something doesnt work, or doesnt work well, and my phone was always about to catch fire. bugless beast constantly gives me force closes, which is a shame because i used to LOVE his work (before all the source built trend hit, when he was just slapping a silly theme on stock roms)

          why not post something that is constructive to the community rather than flaming others. and please back up what you post with something! be it opinion or experiance, state it!

          also… before you flame someone again, sit down, and code something better yourself, publish it, and when your version is more widely accepted, THEN you can open your mouth and talk trash on others

        • Guest

          sounds like Zippy just needs to go buy an iphone and quit all his damn whining

    • Anonymous

      I disagree with you here…my phone gets hotter when tethered with the USB cable. It charges the phone and allows you to surf the web, yes, but that makes the cpu work harder IMO. I love wireless tether, even when I have my phone plugged into the charger and am running WT, phone stays cool. You might want to try a new ROM or Kernel.

      • Zippy

        ROMs are all the same. Just kids who theme the stock ROM or build AOSP from source.

        Same with kernels. I’ve built both from source.

        The only ROM with any meaningful differences from stock is CyanogenMod.

  • Dr. Root, I wanna root my droid x running official 2.2 froyo.

    how is the best way to do it?

  • I was hoping for a list that wasn't so obvious. Maybe some apps for rooted phones that everyone doesn't already know about.

    • Zippy

      At this point it's hard to blame Droid Life for bringing us predictable, uninteresting content. The platform has matured and the app pool grown such that there's just not that much significantly new or exciting going on with Android anymore.

      This will no doubt change with Gingerbread but until then Droid Life and all the other Android blogs have to fill the void with noise so people won't realize that there's really nothing left worth blogging about.

      • Michael_NM

        What's boring to me is reading complaints. Dr. Root said “[I] thought with the growing population of readers rooting and wondering where to go from there I’d go back to basics.” For you experts out there, this is a sign that you might already know about this. For others, this is a great primer. I just had someone ask me last week how to put a calendar widget an his home screen. What may be obvious to the experienced isn't obvious to all.

        I say “kudos” to Dr. Root for making it easier on the rooting rookies!

        • God knows you need it! 😛 +1

          • Michael_NM

            Haha!!! Very troo… (see what I did there). Funny that I'm rooted, but haven't a clue what it's like… 🙂

      • I Still Come Back To This Site When I'm Not Sure About Something AND This Site NEVER Fails To Help Me Out.

        • How do you do that with your keyboard?!?

  • Mobrienjr85

    good detailed msg. pretty much everything you need. Maybe add wired tethering….

    • MattInPDX

      Na, don't need it with Wifi tether. EasyTether is free if you really wanted tethering, except for https sites you have to purchase the full version for $10. Way cheaper than PDA Net which is $35 or $40 for the full version.

      • Zippy

        Wifi Tether is far less reliable, and runs the phone much hotter than wired tether.

        The wired tether app in the google code repository is free and 100% awesome.

        • Anonymous

          but wired tether limits you to just tethering a PC. Wireless tether is great for making my ipod touch work like an iphone wherever I am

          • MNJ

            I use wireless tether and it works flawlessly for me, Original Droid 1 with Sapphire ROM. I’ve has 3-4 pc’s connected without issue. Awesome program – just use version 2.0.5 pre9. Earlier versions didn’t work as well. I also use authentication where I have to approve the Mac address of whatever is connecting. That along with Fring VOIP let me tether and make calls at the same time. For those not rooted PDA.NET is pretty awesome too.

  • Michael_NM

    I'm happy to hear the the AppBrain team is working on those screenshots…. 😛

  • tbaybe

    go Dr ROOT!!!

  • AnDroidSepTIX