Downgrading Android apps can be useful if the latest update has bugs or changes you don’t like. A newer version of an app may no longer be compatible with your version of Android, so you’ll need to get the older version to make it work.
Of course, you can sideload an older version of the app by installing the APK, but you may lose your data and settings. And while you can find some apps for this purpose on Google Play, they require root access, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
So let’s see how to rollback an Android app using ADB (Android Debug Bridge) without losing your data or settings.
Downgrade Android app using ADB without data loss
Before you start, you need to install ADB on your PC and enable USB Debugging on your Android phone. If you’re not sure how to do this, see What is ADB and how to use it for complete instructions. This also helps if you are using Linux or macOS. We will be using Windows for this guide.
So, when everything is ready, follow the step to downgrade the problematic app.
Step 1: Check the app version and download the older APK
First, check which version of the app you currently have installed. Usually, this information is available in the About or Settings section of the app.
Now visit one of these sites to download Android APK safely – we recommend APKMirror – and download an older version of the app in APK format. To execute ADB commands, move this file to your computer’s default ADB folder.
Step 2: Press the APK file to your Android phone
THE adb push command to copy a file from the computer to the device. The first argument of the command is the file to be copied, and the second is the destination of the phone. It looks like this:
adb push xyz.apk /data/local/tmp/
So this is the command to copy the “xyz.apk” file to the phone’s “tmp” folder. You need to change the file name to the file you want to copy.
Now open Terminal, PowerShell or Command Prompt in the ADB folder where you placed the APK file. To do this, on Windows 11, right-click on the folder and select it Open in the terminal. For older versions of Windows, press and hold Change and right click on the folder and select Open a command window here from the context menu.
Type the command and replace the APK name with the one you are using. As an example, we wanted to copy a file named “linkedin-4-1-780.apk” to our Android phone and used this command:
adb push linkedin-4-1-780.apk /data/local/tmp/
Step 3: Perform the downgrade via an ADB command
Once the APK file is in the desired folder on your phone, the next step is to downgrade the app while keeping your data with the following command:
adb shell pm install -r -d /data/local/tmp/xyz.apk
Again, you need to replace “xyz.apk” with your file name. So in our case, we edited the command to:
adb shell pm install -r -d /data/local/tmp/linkedin-4-1-780.apk
Now you can launch the app and check its version number. It should have been updated while keeping the data and settings intact. Here is our result. The screenshot on the left shows the latest version and the downgraded version on the right.
Update apps without losing data
Every space and period counts when using ADB commands. So, if you need to enter them for some reason, you should be extra careful. However, we recommend that you copy and paste as many commands as possible.
If you enjoy using ADB commands, you’ll be surprised to learn what else you can do with ADB. You can use it to install or uninstall apps, reboot your device, etc.