It’s been a few weeks since Google unveiled the mid-range Pixel 6a, bringing several notable upgrades over previous Pixel-A series phones. In addition to the availability of the Android 13 beta, the factory images and kernel sources for the Pixel 6a have also been published, which are just the right ingredients for the modding enthusiasts to start tinkering with the device.
We’re starting to see more and more people getting their hands on the Google Pixel 6a, so for those of you looking for some help rooting your device, here’s a simple step-by-step guide for you. This guide will walk you through how to unlock the bootloader of your Pixel 6a and gain root access on your phone using Magisk. TWRP, the most popular custom recovery out there, will take some time to be ported to the latest Pixels, so the current rooting method is a bit more involved than what you might be used to.
Google Pixel 6a XDA Forums
- You can root Google Pixel 6a by patching boot image with Magisk.
- To flash the patched boot image, you need to unlock the bootloader of your Pixel 6a.
- Unlocking the bootloader wipes the Pixel 6a.
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How to Root Google Pixel 6a
Before we get into how to root the Pixel 6a, you’ll want to do a few things. First, you want to back up all the data on your phone. It is because rooting requires you to delete all the data on your phone, which includes not only installed apps, but also all files stored on the internal storage.
You’ll also want to make sure you have about 5GB of available storage on your PC as you’ll need to download the factory image to your phone. However, when you’re done, you can delete these files to free up space. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to keep the last factory image in case you have problems in your post-root adventure and need to restore to stock.
It is important to note these steps may not work on US carrier models of Google Pixel 6a. Verizon, for example, likes to prevent unlocking the bootloader altogether, making it impossible to root your phone. However, sometimes people find unofficial workarounds and we’ll let you know if any are found.
Step 1 – Get the stock boot image for Pixel 6a
Before we can root, we need to get the stock boot image that matches the current software build the phone is running. We will patch this boot image with Magisk.
To get the boot image, you need to extract it from the Pixel 6a factory image, a file that contains all the images of your phone needed to do a full restore. To make sure you’re downloading the correct factory image, check what software version your phone is currently running. To check this, go to Settings > About the phone. Look for the bottom Building number section. Find the matching build number on the factory image download page and download that file.
Download Android 12 for Google Pixel Phones || Download Android 13 for Google Pixel phones
Then extract the factory image ZIP file. find the picture-bluejay-[version].zip file (yes, it’s a ZIP within a ZIP) and extract the boot.img file from it. This is the stock boot image, which you need to transfer this to your phone storage.
Step 2 – Patch the boot image using Magisk
With the boot image file on your phone, next you need to download and install the latest Magisk app. In fact, you can patch it on a different Android device than the Pixel 6a, but you need to install the Magisk app on the secondary device as well.
In the Magisk app, click on Install button on the top card. Select Select and patch a file under Method, and select the stock boot image. This will open the Android file picker. Go ahead and find the boot.img you transferred from your PC and select it. The Magisk app will patch the image to the Downloads folder on your phone. You need to transfer this patch file (should be named “magic_patched_[random_strings].img”) back to your PC, because next time we will unlock the bootloader which will erase all data as we warned earlier.
Especially if you browse the XDA forums for the Pixel 6a, you might be lucky enough to find a pre-patched boot image. It can save you the trouble of performing steps 1 and 2, but make sure any Magisk-patched boot image you download matches your software version, otherwise you’ll face more anomalies after flashing. Therefore, we always recommend downloading the official firmware and patching the boot image yourself.
Step 3 – Enable OEM unlocking and unlock the bootloader
To flash third-party software on the Pixel 6a, we need to unlock the bootloader. To do so, go to Settings > About the phone > Building number and press this entry 7 times to activate Developer opportunities. After enabling it, go back to the main settings page and tap Systemthen go to Developer opportunities. From there you switch off OEM unlocking option. Remember that you must enter a password/pattern/PIN to validate some of the actions.
After enabling OEM unlocking, turn off your phone. Hold both the volume down and power buttons to turn the phone back on and boot into the bootloader menu. Assuming you have the latest ADB and Fastboot binaries installed already, you can also use the following command to reboot into bootloader mode directly from Android.
adb reboot bootloader
Make sure to keep your phone connected to your PC/Mac/Chromebook. Then type in a terminal window:
fastboot flashing unlock
You will see a screen telling you that you are about to start the bootloader unlocking process. Use volume button to navigate and power button to accept. Again, this will erase all the data on your phone, so make sure you have backed up your data before proceeding.
Step 4 – Flash Magisk patched boot image
After your Pixel 6a’s bootloader is unlocked and your boot image is patched, you’re just one step away from root.
Once the unlocking process is complete, the phone will reboot after a few minutes. Skip the setup wizard at this stage and turn off your phone. You will now boot back into the bootloader by holding the volume down and power buttons again. Once there, connect your phone to your PC/Mac/Chromebook and run the following command:
fastboot flash boot path/to/magisk_patched.img
As soon as you press Enter, the patched boot image will be flashed to your phone. Then restart using
fastboot reboot and the Magisk app should appear on the home screen and/or app drawer. If it doesn’t (eg you can only see a stub icon), install the Magisk APK manually. This is all it takes to root Pixel 6a.
Remember that you need to repeat steps 1, 2 and 4 every time you update your phone because the boot image changes with each update.
What will be next?
If you’re looking for things to do with your newly rooted Pixel 6a, check out our curated list of the best root apps. Once your device is up and running with Magisk, you can also try some of the best Magisk modules to seamlessly apply complex mods without touching the underlying system.
Google Pixel 6a
The Google Pixel 6a is a mid-range smartphone with Google Tensor and an advanced camera.