How to manually update Nexus 5 to Android 4.4.1 KitKat

Camera protection

Earlier today, Google started rolling out the Android 4.4.1 KitKat update for the Nexus 5 and other Nexus devices. The update is mainly aimed at dramatically improving the camera performance of the Nexus 5, along with fixing a few minor bugs. As with any OTA update from Google, the update notification can take up to a couple of weeks to pop up on your phone.

Since the download link of the Android 4.4.1 OTA update is now available, you can manually sideload the update on your Nexus 5 as well. 

The below steps will work on a completely stock Nexus 5 without any issues. While your data will remain intact post the update, it is recommend to make backups just in case things go wrong.

Step 1: Download the Android 4.4.1 OTA update for the Nexus 5 directly from Google’s server. Rename the file to ‘kitkat.zip’ and transfer it inside a new folder called ‘google’ on your desktop.

Step 2: Download the ADB/Fastboot files, along with the USB drivers if you are running Windows from below.

Make sure to install the drivers and extract the contents of the ADB/Fastboot ZIP file inside the ‘google’ folder that you created in step 1 on your desktop.

Step 3: You will now need to put your Nexus 5 into Recovery mode. Do so by switching it off, and then pressing the Volume down + Power button simultaneously. After the device boots into bootloader mode, use the Volume keys to navigate to the ‘Recovery’ option and select it by using by the Power button.

If you get an Android logo with an exclamation mark, press the Volume down + Power button for 2 seconds. Also, try pressing the Volume up + Volume down + power buttons 4-5 times in a row. This is going to be a bit finicky, so chances are you won’t get into recovery mode right at the first try.

Step 4: Once your Nexus 5 has booted into recovery, use the Volume key to select the ‘apply update from ADB’ option using the Power key. Connect the device to your PC now, and open a new command prompt window on Windows or Terminal on Mac.

You will now need to navigate to the ‘google’ folder you created in Step 1. After that, simply copy/paste the following command:

adb sideload kitkat.zip

Mac owners need to copy paste the following command:

./adb sideload kitkat.zip

The OTA file will then be transferred to your phone, and the installation process will automatically begin. After the installation is completed, your Nexus 5 will automatically reboot as well. The first boot will take some time so please be patient.

You will get an error during the installation process if you have modified the /system partition on your device in any way. Make sure to restore or re-enable any disabled system apps if you are getting a signature verification failed error.

If you are running stock Android 4.4 KitKat with root access and a custom recovery installed on your Nexus 5, simply download the OTA update from above and install it using the custom recovery installed.

Like this post? Share it!
  • jag

    Thank you for your well written instructions. It was hard to find them for stock upgrade.

    • krishna

      i am using windows 8 it is showing cannot read sideload
      what should i do ??? plzzzz help me
      thank you

      • Bruce K

        If you named the file “kitkat.zip” you’re really going to be typing ”
        “kitkat.zip.zip”.

      • kunal

        Adb has some sort of problem with windows 8
        Google about adb not recognize device in recovery
        You will find the answer
        But its a long process n i feel lazy doing it
        So waiting for the actual update from google
        It wont take years

        • Fulaman1984

          Ok that makes sense then. I understand why adb wasn’t working in recovery now. I use Windows 8.1. Thanks for the information

  • frustrated

    I did everything here and it didn’t work. When I copied and pasted ./adb sideload kitat.zip into terminal it said no such file found. Nothing worked either I missed a step or you assume people are all developers and know all the in between steps you didn’t list. Either way I’m super bummed becuase I really want toh eupgrade and dont want to wait for the OTA.

    • David Fradette

      I understand your issue, I had the same problem. Could have been explained a little better but at the same time you shouldn’t be doing it if you don’t understand your system fully.

      Anyways, you need to have a folder on your desktop called google with the OTA renamed as kitkat.zip in it.

      Then you need to unzip the fastboot file you download, then you need to move the files according to your computers operating system into the google folder with your kitkat.zip. EG if you have OSX which I am assuming you do copy the two files adb and fastboot so they are with your kitkat.zip file.

      Now if you rightclick your google folder you should have an option for services and then open folder in terminal so your already in the directory. Now type in your ./adb sideload kitat.zip command with your phone plugged in recovery mode as explained above.

    • Rajesh

      You are probably in the wrong folder, or the KitKat update file is not in the same folder as the ADB/Fastboot files.

      • vivek sharma

        hi Rajesh,
        I have nexus 5 which is not turning on just google logo appers..
        So what to Do now and i want to save my data also Please Help Me Please 🙁

  • Ciketto

    Guys update the command for mac , “kitkat” no “kitat”

    ./adb sideload kitkat.zip

    • Rajesh

      Ha! Nice catch man. Fixed. Thanks!

  • Najam

    This doesn’t delete anything from your phone, does it?

    • Rajesh

      No, it does not.

  • Brad Veenvliet

    worked perfectly thanks

  • Derek

    Ive tried for over an hr can someone please help me update. Im using a nexus 5 unrooted with Macbook air. Thanks a bunch

    • Rajesh

      What’s the problem?

      • derek

        where do you rename the 4.4.1 file? i have everything downloaded and in a folder . terminal recognizes my devices in side load.

        * daemon started successfully *

        List of devices attached

        • Natedroid

          Im having the same issue with my iMac, cannot read side load error. Followed directions to the T. adb devices show the serial number of my nexus 5. Not sure what the problem is.

          • Natedroid

            I didn’t realize that Safari was unzipping the download of 4.4.1, therefore I was getting that error. For future reference make sure the open safe files box is unchecked in safari, under general preferences. Update worked using these instructions.

      • androidfreak

        hey i get an error saying ” * cannot read ‘sideload’ * “

      • androidfreak

        and my system is a windows 7 64bit pc

  • prakash

    Thanks, I was able to upgrade my N5. I did get into trouble during the command adb as it was not recognized but understood that I only had to copy the files within Win32 folder to google folder. Once that was done everything went as per the instructions.

  • lofin

    Great article. Really helpful.

  • Toar Rungkat

    I dont understand why i cant update
    I do as the following instruction but on the command prompt said “‘ADB’ is not recognized as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file.”

    • Rajesh

      ADB file is not present in the right folder.

      • Toar Rungkat

        Ive made it 2 days ago
        Im sorry not telling u
        Thank bro for the treat

  • androidfreak

    it says it cannot read ‘sideload’ *

    • androidfreak

      can somebody help me??/

  • martin carlosena

    Ok guys, I think I know where everyone is having problems. Put the files of the adb in the google folder not the folders. So if you’re with windows, move those files in the google folder, not the win32 folder but whats in it.

    • juuso

      thanks that helped

  • AssainXx32

    How would I navigate to “google” folder??

    (im on windows 7 64bit)

  • Pissed off fucking guy

    CAN YOU GUYS BE FUCKING HELPFUL AND REPLY TO FUCKING COMMENTS. WTF DO YOU DO WHEN THE PEICE OF SHIT SAYS CANNOT READ FUCKING SIDELOAD. IVE BEEN TRYING FOR TWO HOURS FOLLOWING STEP BY FUCKING STEP AND THIS GARBAGE DOES NOT WORK WTF. HURRY THE FUCK UP AND REPLY. THANKS

  • iggyc84

    Guys- I kept getting the cannot read sideload error. I tried everything on here and was so confused as to why it wouldn’t work. Eventually in the google folder, i clicked customize folder options and enabled “display extensions for known file types”. as soon as i did this, my kitkat.zip folder showed up as kitkat.zip.zip ! so the file had been named incorrectly, and thats why i was having issues!

    • GEL

      Same here! I also added the “.zip” extension when I renamed the long file name (as “kitkat.zip”) by simply following the instructions above. It should be renamed “kitkat” only, WITHOUT the zip extension. Once you replace the name by kitkat only, the update works flawlessly. Thanks iggyc84!

  • Fulaman1984

    My issue is that adb devices works while the device is on and booted up. It displays the serial number of my device. However, whenever the device is booted up into the bootloader, adb can not seem to find the device anymore when ‘adb devices’ is typed. Why is that? Everything works fine while the device is on, but not in the bootloader.

    • derp

      in bootloader you’ll need to use fastboot instead

      • Fulaman1984

        I do use ‘fastboot devices’ in bootloader, but once I get into recovery ‘fastboot devices’ no longer works. It can no longer find my device. Any other suggestions?

        • shan

          Recovery uses adv. Use
          “adb devices”

          • Fulaman1984

            It does not recognise my device, that is what I have been trying to say my friend. Any other suggestions?

  • Fulaman1984

    in the bootloader, fastboot devices seems to work (it brings up device serial number). But once the device is in recovery, neither adb or fastboot recognises the device.

  • Russian Hacker

    ok guys listen. I solve the problem with sideload. Basicall, all you need to do is to press SHIFT and the right mouse button INSIDE the folder. That is how you MUST call command promt. than type adb bla bla bla you you will get your update.

    • Fulaman1984

      Do you think we are all fools here? Some of us can’t sideload the ROM from recovery. Our devices don’t seem to be recognised in recovery.

  • Who Cares

    Navigating directions for Mac users should be included if you’re going to provide a tutorial on how to do something to begin with. Why leave out something so simple, yet crucial?

    If you named the file “kitkat.zip” and placed it in a folder called “google” on your desktop, paste this into Terminal: “cd /Users/INSERT USER HERE/Desktop/google

    Obviously, insert the user who you’re logged in on your computer as.

    You can also get find this info if you right click on the “kitkat.zip” file, and select “get info.” It’ll be listed in the “General” section under “where.”

    Once you copy this information, paste it into Terminal and hit enter. If all goes well, you should be able to enter this “./adb sideload kitkat.zip” and see it begin to load up.

    Hopefully this works. I had to figure it out myself too.

  • Worked fine for me using my MAC. A little trick to open to Google folder in Terminal is just drag the “google” folder onto the terminal screen – while holding down the CMD key. then paste the script.

  • J

    Hi, Im getting a signature verification error, but I have enabled all the system apps. Can somebody tell me how to fix it? Thx

  • Stella

    I think whoever sees ‘it says it cannot read ‘sideload’ ‘ may have the same problem as I had. It could be your problem as well but can not guarantee. It had something to do when I rename the update zip file. I typed ‘nexus5.zip’ hence I reckon system recognised it as ‘nexus5.zip.zip’. When i changed it to ‘nexus5’ it worked fine. It may worth trying if you did the same as I did.

    • Krishna

      Thanks buddy! This was the solution in my case too.

  • Fulaman1984

    Android 4.4.2 is out, thus making this thread void

  • nahin

    is it possible that my nexus 5 is updated to 4.4.2 but i didnt get the camera update????i m saying this as i bought the cellph and i switched on…it detected and notified and askedfor permission of camera update…..after accepting it i handovered da set to the shopkeeper…n somehow during the process the cellph went into recovery mode…..shopkeeper did something….it came back to life n shows android 4.4.2 in system…..but the camera improvement seems same…….is it possible tht the ph jus skipped the camera update due to some reason????

    • nahin

      and also…….i took my friends nexus 5 and updated it OTA for camera improvement…n his one really shows faster perfrmance after the update

  • Peeth

    dont forget to flash cache as well or your might get into some issues like I did (network not working, camera crashing etc.).