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How to: Grab the OTA File URL for Nexus Updates

htc-nexus-one-2

Every time a new update surfaces for a Nexus device (like Android 4.4.3), there is a mad dash to find the OTA URL from Google’s own servers so that those who were not lucky enough to receive the update over-the-air can sideload the .zip file. You know, because none of us have any patience whatsoever these days.

The problem is, we often see users get prompted with the update who don’t know how to capture that URL for everyone. So we thought we would put together a quick tutorial on how to do just that – capture a Nexus OTA URL. That way, should Android 4.4.4 or 4.5 or 5.0 show up some day, we will all be prepared to bring update love to the rest of the world. 

Instructions (adb short version)


*This is a set of instructions that works for everyone. You do not need to be rooted to do this.

**You do need adb up and running on your computer with the Android SDK.

***You need to have USB Debugging enabled on your phone. (Settings>Developer options)

1.  When you get prompted to download an update on your Nexus device, immediately plug your phone into a computer.
2.  From that computer, open a command prompt, type “adb logcat” and hit enter. (On a Mac it’s “./adb logcat”)
3.  The command prompt will then begin to spit out information from your phone.
4.  Feel free to then tap the “Download” button on the update from your phone.
5.  Once the download starts, you will be able to find the URL of the file that is downloading in the logcat.
6.  You can do a handful of things now to find it-

  • a)  See if you can spot a URL in the command prompt that starts with “android.clients.google.com” – or -
  • b)  Copy the logcat info, paste into a text editor and then search for that string – or -
  • C)  You could also search for the codename for the device (Ex:  Nexus 5 is “hammerhead”)

ota file2

7.  Once you have the full URL, copy it, and then run to the Droid Life contact form and send it to us.

Pretty simple, right?


We will be adding more detailed instructions soon for those who need more help with adb or the Android SDK. For now, bookmark this for the next round of updates.

  • Jason Kahn

    Finally got the OTA yesterday, I don’t have a PC, but if I did I would do this and share with all.

    Noticing the camera does focus much faster now, and more accurately, battery life has been tremendous Took it off the charger last night befor I went to bed, and here we are 9 hours and 50 minutes later and I still have 70% left. That included two phone calls, multiple pictures, and on the walk to work this morning using Google Music and Run-Keeper

  • Tyler

    While I’m always last to get updates this is good to know how to do.

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  • jimt

    You read my mind on this post Kellen. I was going to ask for a clue as to how to grab the zip file. Thanks for the info. Still no Nexus 7 2012 love.

  • Arlington Albertson

    soooo….uhhhh…..I suppose this means us lowly Verizon Galaxy Nexus users are in the dark on this…..again….no official 4.4.3…. :'(

    • Adrynalyne

      No worries, GSM users feel your pain too.

    • jimt

      My Gnex has the same pain.

  • Peter Stover

    My only computer is a Samsung Chromebook. Can i still do this? Also, is it possible to put 4.4.3 onto my N5 with the Chromebook?

  • Adam Elghor

    I would totally buy a nexus one if it had upgraded internals. It is such a sexy phone.

  • Good_Ole_Pinocchio

    Nexus ONE!… Kellen I’ll buy that off of you right now!

  • Bootleg Zani

    “7. Once you have the full URL, copy it, and then run to the Droid Life contact form and send it to us.”

  • Cory

    Damn, still no love for the Nexus 7 WiFi (2012). I’m really hoping they’ve fixed the random WiFi drops…

    • Jeff Broders

      Just installed 4.4.3 on my 2012 Nexus 7. Flashible zip available on xda. Even deodexed version available if desired.

  • http://www.twitter.com/macpro88 Jacob

    anyone else not taken aback by the photo used? lol

    • ChristianYoloSwag420-69

      Nexus One gets official 4.4.3!

    • Tyler

      Yes, just imagine how an og droid would have faired. That being the phone that brought up this community.

  • droidrazredge

    Great Post Kellen!!!! The information was very informative, appreciative, and helpful. I was reading this post and got prompted to download the OTA 4.4.3 on my
    Nexus 7. I will definitely be sharing the OTA links for future updates with you guys. This is what the Droid-life community has needed for a long time. I also will be sharing this post with my friends who are eager to obtain updates but are not to savvy with the side loading the factory images from Google.

  • clay

    now post a guide on getting drivers to work in windows 8.1

    or hey google, ARE YOU READING THIS? FIX YOUR DRIVERS ISSUE.

    • Jeff Broders

      Wugfresh toolkit. Koush universal adb drivers. And no, Google probably didn’t read it.

    • TechWings

      It’s actually not that difficult.

      1. You need to make sure you have comparable java and eclipse installed, i.e., both 64-bit, in order for adb to actually work. This should get your device to work when booted into Android with a Windows 8.x.

      2. Download the usb driver file from http://developer.android.com/sdk/win-usb.html.

      3. Edit the .inf file with the VID and PID of the device.

      – Under the [Google.NTamd64] heading, because I’m using the 64-bit version of Windows, Java, and Eclipse, I added:

      %SingleBootLoaderInterface% = USB_Install, USBVID_18D1&PID_****
      %CompositeAdbInterface% = USB_Install, USBVID_18D1&PID_****

      Replacing the stars with the PID of the device.

      There is no Nexus 5 listed so I created a new section:

      ;Google Nexus 5 and I copied and pasted the same two lines underneath it.

      4. Open Device Manager on Windows while in Recovery Mode. Nexus x should be listed with yellow exclamation mark. Right-click, update driver, choose “Let me pick…,” click “Android Device,” then “Have Disk,” then browse to the usb driver folder and click on the edited .inf file.

      5. Prosper.

      • jonzey231

        You really don’t need to do any of that. Just enable windows to install unsigned drivers and then do your step 4.

        • TechWings

          Ah. Just researched it. I did that the last time I pushed an update. Didn’t realize it was temporary.

          • jonzey231

            I just felt kind of bad for you for going through all of that just to side load it lol.

    • CaptainHowdy13

      I just picked the driver from my system manually

  • Pootis Man

    Is there a way you could download the update zip and put your phone in recovery and install the update all on your device?

    • Jeff Broders

      Yes. Check appropriate thread on xda. I’d bet every Nexus has a flashible zip by now.

  • snoty

    Great post Kellen!

  • Brent Cooper

    The DL community has needed this for a long time!

    +1 on posting these instructions

    • NadineDeightonrif

      My Uncle
      Andrew recently got a very nice Volkswagen just by working online with a macbook
      air. read the full info here C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

  • James Polk

    Thanks for the info–appreciate you and others helping those of us who aren’t quite as savvy with this side of the smartphone experience. Was able to sideload 4.4.3 to my Nexus 5 yesterday thanks to your links and directions. Then went to do the same for my Nexus 10 and found the update ready to go there!