Advanced emulator usage

Sometimes you might need to test your app on a virtual device using more than just basic touch screen gestures and phone movements, for example if you want to simulate different locations or network conditions. This page covers advanced emulator features, and different ways to launch the emulator with Android Studio.

The other pages in this section cover even more advanced ways to use the emulator, that require you to use the terminal. These more niche use cases are:

For most app developers, the basic emulator navigation capabilities and the features on this page should cover your testing needs. For a side-by-side comparison of what you can do with the emulator depending on how you interact with it, see Emulator feature comparison.

Screenshots

To take a screenshot of the virtual device, click the Take screenshot Take Screenshot icon button.

In the Screen Capture dialog that appears, you can recapture, edit, and copy the captured image. Once you're satisfied with the image, click Save. The emulator creates a PNG file with the name Screenshot_yyyymmdd-hhmmss.png using the year, month, day, hour, minute, and second of the capture. For example, Screenshot_20160219-145848.png. If you wish, you can change the name and choose where to save the file before saving it to your computer.

You can also take screenshots from the command line with either of the following commands:

  • screenrecord screenshot [destination-directory]
  • adb emu screenrecord screenshot [destination-directory]

Screen recording

You can record video and audio from the Android Emulator and save the recording to a WebM or animated GIF file.

The screen recording controls are in the Record and Playback tab of the Extended Controls window.

Tip: You can also open the screen recording controls by pressing Control + Shift + R (Command + Shift + R on Mac).

To begin screen recording, click the Start recording button in the Record and P tab. To stop recording, click Stop recording.

Controls for playing and saving the recorded video are at the bottom of the Record and Playback tab. To save the video, choose WebM or GIF from the menu at the bottom of the tab and click Save.

You can also record and save a screen recording from the emulator using the following command on the command line:

adb emu screenrecord start --time-limit 10 [path to save video]/sample_video.webm

Camera support

The emulator supports the use of basic camera functionality on your virtual device for earlier Android versions. Android 11 and higher supports the following additional Android Emulator camera capabilities:

  • RAW capture
  • YUV reprocessing
  • Level 3 devices
  • Logical camera support
  • Emulating sensor orientation by using data from the sensor manager
  • Applying video stabilization by reducing handshake frequency
  • Applying edge enhancement by removing the upscaling usually done in the YUV pipeline
  • Concurrent cameras

Virtual scene camera and ARCore

You can use the virtual scene camera in a virtual environment to experiment with augmented reality (AR) apps made with ARCore.

For information on using the virtual scene camera in the emulator, see Run AR apps in Android Emulator.

When using the emulator with a camera app, you can import an image in PNG or JPEG format to be used within a virtual scene. To choose an image for use in a virtual scene, click Add image in the Camera > Virtual scene images tab in the Extended controls window. This feature can be used to import custom images such as QR codes for use with any camera-based app. For more information, see Add Augmented Images to the scene.

Test common AR actions with macros

You can greatly reduce the time it takes to test common AR actions by using the preset macros in the emulator. For example, you can use a macro to reset all the device's sensors to their default state.

Before using macros, follow the steps in Run AR apps in Android Emulator to set up the virtual scene camera for your app, run your app on the emulator, and update ARCore. Then, follow these steps to use emulator macros:

  1. With the emulator running and your app connected to ARCore, click More in the emulator panel.
  2. Select Record and Playback > Macro Playback.
  3. Choose a macro that you want to use, then click Play.

    During playback, you can interrupt a macro by clicking Stop.

Launch the emulator in a separate window

The Android Emulator runs directly inside Android Studio by default. This allows you to conserve screen real estate, navigate quickly between the emulator and the editor window using hotkeys, and organize your IDE and emulator workflow in a single application window. However, some emulator features are only available when you run it in a separate window. To launch the emulator in a separate window, go to File > Settings > Tools > Emulator (Android Studio > Preferences > Tools > Emulator on macOS) and deselect Launch in a tool window.

Extended controls, settings, and help

Use the extended controls to send data, change device properties, control apps, and more. To open the Extended controls window, click More Emulator extended controls icon in the emulator panel. Note that some of these extended control options are only available when you run the emulator in a separate window outside of Android Studio.

You can use keyboard shortcuts to perform many of these tasks. For a complete list of shortcuts in the emulator, press F1 (Command + / on Mac) to open the Help pane.

Table 1. Extended controls details

Feature Description
Location

The emulator lets you simulate "my location" information: the location where the emulated device is currently located. For example, if you click My Location My Location icon in Google Maps and then send a location, the map shows it.

Controls for the device's location information are organized under two tabs: Single points and Routes.

Single points

In the Single points tab, you can use the Google Maps webview to search for points of interest, just as you would when using Google Maps on a phone or in a browser. When you search for (or click on) a location in the map, you can save the location by selecting Save point near the bottom of the map. All of your saved locations are listed on the right side of the Extended controls window.

To set the emulators location to the location you have selected on the map, click the Set location button near the bottom right of the Extended controls window.

Routes

Similar to the Single points tab, the Routes tab provides a Google Maps webview that you can use to create a route between two or more locations. To create and save a route, do the following:

  1. In the map view, use the text field to search for the first destination in your route.
  2. Select the location from the search results.
  3. Select the Navigate button.
  4. Select the starting point of your route from the map.
  5. (Optional) Click Add destination to add more stops to your route.
  6. Save your route by clicking Save route in the map view.
  7. Specify a name for the route and click Save.

To simulate the emulator following the route you saved, select the route from the list of Saved routes and click Play route near the bottom right of the Extended controls window. To stop the simulation, click Stop route.

To continuously simulate the emulator following the specified route, enable the switch next to Repeat playback. To change how quickly the emulator follows the specified route, select an option from the Playback speed dropdown.

Import GPX and KML data

To use geographic data from a GPS exchange format (GPX) or Keyhole Markup Language (KML) file:

  1. Click Load GPX/KML.
  2. In the file dialog, select a file on your computer and click Open.
  3. Optionally select a Speed.
  4. The speed defaults to the Delay value (Speed 1X). You can increase the speed by double (Speed 2X), triple (Speed 3X), and so on.

  5. Click Run Run icon.
Displays

The emulator allows you to deploy your app to multiple displays, which support customizable dimensions and can help you test apps that support multi- window and multi- display. While a virtual device is running, you can add up to two additional displays as follows:

  1. Add another display by clicking Add secondary display.
  2. From the dropdown menu under Secondary displays, do one of the following:
    1. Select one of the preset aspect ratios.
    2. Select custom and set the height, width, and dpi for your custom display.
  3. (Optional) Click Add secondary display to add a third display.
  4. Click Apply changes to add the specified display(s) to the running virtual device.
Cellular

The emulator lets you simulate various network conditions. You can approximate the network speed for different network protocols, or you can specify Full, which transfers data as quickly as your computer allows. Specifying a network protocol is always slower than Full. You can also specify the voice and data network status, such as roaming. The defaults are set in the AVD.

Select a Network type:

  • GSM: Global System for Mobile Communications
  • HSCSD: High-Speed Circuit-Switched Data
  • GPRS: Generic Packet Radio Service
  • EDGE: Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution
  • UMTS: Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
  • HSPDA: High-Speed Downlink Packet Access
  • LTE: Long-Term Evolution
  • Full (default): Use the network as provided by your computer

Select a Signal strength:

  • None
  • Poor
  • Moderate (default)
  • Good
  • Great

Select a Voice status, Data status, or both:

  • Home (default)
  • Roaming
  • Searching
  • Denied (emergency calls only)
  • Unregistered (off)
Battery

You can simulate the battery properties of a device to see how your app performs under different conditions. To select a Charge level, use the slider control.

Select a Charger connection value:

  • None
  • AC charger

Select a Battery health value:

  • Good (default)
  • Failed
  • Dead
  • Overvoltage
  • Overheated
  • Unknown

Select a Battery status value:

  • Unknown
  • Charging (default)
  • Discharging
  • Not charging
  • Full
Camera You can load pictures into the scene that is simulated when you open the emulator camera. For more information, see Add Augmented Images to the scene in the ARCore documentation.
Phone

The emulator lets you simulate incoming phone calls and text messages.

To initiate a call to the emulator:

  1. Select or type a phone number in the From field.
  2. Click Call Device.
  3. Optionally click Hold Call to put the call on hold.
  4. To end the call, click End Call.

To send a text message to the emulator:

  1. Select or type a phone number in the From field.
  2. Type a message in the SMS message field.
  3. Click Send Message.
Directional Pad

If the AVD has the directional pad enabled in the hardware profile, you can use the directional pad controls with the emulator. However, not all devices can support the directional pad; for example, an Android watch. The buttons simulate the following actions:

Directional Pad Control
Microphone When Virtual microphone uses host audio input is turned on, the emulator receives audio input from the host microphone; otherwise, the emulator doesn't receive any audio input. The Virtual headset plug inserted, Virtual headset has microphone, and Voice Assist options are currently unimplemented.
Fingerprint

This control can simulate 10 different fingerprint scans. You can use it to test fingerprint integration in your app. This feature is disabled for Android 5.1 (API level 22) and lower, and for Wear OS.

To simulate a fingerprint scan on the virtual device:

  1. Prepare an app to receive a fingerprint.
  2. Select a Fingerprint value.
  3. Click Touch Sensor.
Virtual sensors > Device Pose

This control lets you test your app against changes in device position, orientation, or both. For example, you can simulate gestures such as tilt and rotation. The accelerometer doesn't track the absolute position of the device: it just detects when a change is occurring. The control simulates the way accelerometer and magnetometer sensors would respond when you move or rotate a real device.

You must enable the accelerometer sensor in your AVD to use this control.

The control reports TYPE_ACCELEROMETER events on the x, y, and z axis. These values include gravity. For example, if the device is suspended in outer space, it would experience zero acceleration (all of x, y, and z will be 0). When the device is on Earth and laying screen-up on top of a table, the acceleration is 0, 0, and 9.8 because of gravity.

The control also reports TYPE_MAGNETIC_FIELD events, which measure the ambient magnetic field on the x, y and z axis in microteslas (μT).

To rotate the device around the x, y, and z axes, select Rotate and do one of the following:

  • Adjust the Yaw, Pitch, and Roll sliders and observe the position in the upper pane.
  • Move the device representation in the upper pane and observe the Yaw, Pitch, and Roll and how the resulting accelerometer values change.

See Computing the device's orientation for more information about how yaw, pitch, and roll are calculated.

To move the device horizontally (x) or vertically (y), select Move and do one of the following:

  • Adjust the X and Y sliders and observe the position in the upper pane.
  • Move the device representation in the upper pane and observe the X and Y slider values and how the resulting accelerometer values change.

To position the device at 0, 90, 180, or 270 degrees:

  • In the Device rotation area, select a button to change the rotation.

As you adjust the device, the Resulting values fields change accordingly. These are the values that an app can access.

For more information about these sensors, see Sensors overview, Motion sensors, and Position sensors.

Virtual sensors > Additional sensors

The emulator can simulate various position and environment sensors. It lets you adjust the following sensors so you can test them with your app:

  • Ambient temperature: This environmental sensor measures ambient air temperature.
  • Magnetic field: This position sensor measures the ambient magnetic field on the X, Y, and Z axes, respectively. The values are in microteslas (μT).
  • Proximity: This position sensor measures the distance from an object; for example, it can notify a phone that a face is close to it to make a call. The proximity sensor must be enabled in your AVD to use this control.
  • Light: This environmental sensor measures illuminance. The values are in lux units.
  • Pressure: This environmental sensor measures ambient air pressure. The values are in millibar (hPa) units.
  • Relative Humidity: This environmental sensor measures ambient relative humidity.

For more information about these sensors, see Sensors overview, Position sensors, and Environment sensors.

Bug report If you're experiencing issues with the emulator, you can prepare and send a bug report. The emulator automatically collects screenshots, logs, and other data for the bug report.
Record and Playback See Screen recording
Google Play When Android Virtual Device is a system image that includes the Play Store app, this displays the Google Play services version information.
Settings > General
  • Emulator window theme: Select Light or Dark.
  • Send keyboard shortcuts to: By default, some keyboard combinations will trigger emulator control shortcuts. If you’re developing an app that includes keyboard shortcuts, such as one targeted at devices with Bluetooth keyboards, you can change this setting to send all keyboard input to the virtual device, including input that would be a shortcut in the emulator.
  • Screenshot save location: Click the folder icon to specify a location to save screenshots of the emulator screen.
  • Use detected ADB location: If you're running the emulator from Android Studio, you should select this setting (the default). If you run the emulator from outside Android Studio and want it to use a specific adb executable, deselect this option and specify the SDK Tools location. If this setting is incorrect, features such as screenshot capture and drag-and-drop app installation won't work.
  • When to send crash reports: Select Always, Never, or Ask.
  • Show window frame around device: By default, emulators with device skin files are shown without a surrounding window frame.
Settings > Proxy

By default, the emulator uses the Android Studio HTTP proxy settings, but this screen allows you to manually define an HTTP proxy configuration for the emulator. For more information, see Using the emulator with a proxy.

Settings > Advanced
  • OpenGL ES renderer: Select the graphics acceleration type. (This is equivalant to the -gpu command line option).
    • Autodetect based on host: Let the emulator choose hardware or software graphics acceleration based on your computer setup. It checks if your GPU driver matches a list of known faulty GPU drivers, and if it does, the emulator disables graphics hardware emulation and instead uses the CPU.
    • ANGLE: (Windows only.) Use ANGLE Direct3D to render graphics in software.
    • SwiftShader: Use SwiftShader to render graphics in software.
    • Desktop native OpenGL: Use the GPU on your host computer. This option is typically the fastest. However, some drivers have issues with rendering OpenGL graphics, so it might not be a reliable option.
  • OpenGL ES API level: Select the maximum version of OpenGL ES to use in the emulator.
    • Autoselect: Let the emulator choose the OpenGL ES version based on the host and guest support.
    • Renderer maximum (up to OpenGL ES 3.1): Attempt to use the maximum version of OpenGL ES.
    • Compatibility (OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0): Use the version of OpenGL ES that is compatible with most environments.
Help > Keyboard Shortcuts

This pane provides a complete list of keyboard shortcuts for the emulator. To open this pane while working in the emulator, press F1 (Command+/ on Mac).

For the shortcuts to work, the Send keyboard shortcuts option in the General settings pane must be set to Emulator controls (default).

Help > Emulator Help

To go to the online documentation for the emulator, click Documentation.

To file a bug against the emulator, click Send feedback. For more information, see how to report emulator bugs.

Help > About

See which adb port the emulator uses, as well as the Android and emulator version numbers. Compare the latest available emulator version with your version to determine if you have the latest software installed.

The emulator serial number is emulator-adb_port, which you can specify as an adb command line option, for example.

Launch the emulator without launching an app

Sometimes you might want to launch the emulator without running an app, for example if you just want to see how two emulator devices interact with each other when paired over Bluetooth. To launch the emulator without launching an app, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Device Manager.
  2. Double-click an AVD, or click Run . The Android Emulator loads.

While the emulator is running, you can run Android Studio projects and choose the emulator as the target device. You can also drag one or more APKs onto the emulator to install them, and then run them.

Install and add files

If you want to use an app that's not available in the Google Play Store on the emulator, you can manually install the APK file. To install an APK file on the emulated device, drag an APK file onto the emulator screen. An APK Installer dialog appears. When the installation completes, you can view the app in your apps list.

To add a file to the emulated device, drag the file onto the emulator screen. The file is placed in the /sdcard/Download/ directory. You can view the file from Android Studio using the Device File Explorer, or find it from the device using the Downloads or Files app, depending on the device version.

Snapshots

A snapshot is a stored image of an AVD (Android Virtual Device) that preserves the entire state of the device at the time that it was saved – including OS settings, application state, and user data. You can return to a saved system state by loading a snapshot whenever you choose, saving you the time of waiting for the operating system and applications on the virtual device to restart, as well as saving you the effort of bringing your app back to the state at which you want to resume your testing. Starting a virtual device by loading a snapshot is much like waking a physical device from a sleep state, as opposed to booting it from a powered-off state.

For each AVD, you can have one Quick Boot snapshot and any number of general snapshots.

The simplest way to take advantage of snapshots is to use Quick Boot snapshots: By default, each AVD is set to automatically save a Quick Boot snapshot on exit and load from a Quick Boot snapshot on start.

The first time that an AVD starts, it must perform a cold boot, just like powering on a device. If Quick Boot is enabled, all subsequent starts load from the specified snapshot, and the system is restored to the state saved in that snapshot.

Snapshots are valid for the system image, AVD configuration, and emulator features with which they are saved. When you make a change in any of these areas, all snapshots of the affected AVD become invalid. Any update to the Android Emulator, system image, or AVD settings resets the AVD's saved state, so the next time you start the AVD, it must perform a cold boot.

Most controls for saving, loading, and managing snapshots are in the Snapshots and Settings tabs in the Snapshots pane. If you're running the emulator in a tool window in Android Studio, the Snapshots pane button is in from the emulator toolbar. If you're running the emulator in a standalone window outside of Android Studio, the Snapshots pane is in the Extended controls window.

You can also control the Quick Boot options when starting the emulator from the command line.

Save Quick Boot snapshots

When you close an AVD, you can specify whether the emulator automatically saves a snapshot when you close. To control this behavior, proceed as follows:

  1. Open the snapshots settings. If the emulator is embedded in Android Studio, click on Snapshots in the toolbar. If the emulator is in a separate window, open the Extended controls window.
  2. In the Snapshots category of controls, navigate to the Settings tab.
  3. Use the Auto-save current state to Quickboot drop-down menu to select one of the following options:

    • Yes: Always save an AVD snapshot when you close the emulator. This is the default.

    • No: Don't save an AVD snapshot when you close the emulator.

Your selection applies only to the AVD that is currently open. You cannot save snapshots while ADB is offline (such as while the AVD is still booting).

Save general snapshots

Whereas you can only have one Quick Boot snapshot for each AVD, you can have multiple general snapshots for each AVD.

To save a general snapshot, open the Snapshots pane and click the Take snapshot button in the lower-right corner of the window.

To edit the name and description of the selected snapshot, click the edit button at the bottom of the window.

Delete a snapshot

To manually delete a snapshot, open the Snapshots pane, select the snapshot, and click the delete button at the bottom of the window.

You can also specify whether you would like the emulator to automatically delete snapshots when they become invalid, such as when the AVD settings or emulator version change. By default, the emulator will ask you if you'd like for it to delete invalid snapshots. You can change this setting with the Delete invalid snapshots menu in the Settings tab of the Snapshots pane.

Load a snapshot

To load a snapshot at any time, open the emulator's Snapshots pane, select the Snapshots category, choose a snapshot, and click the load button at the bottom of the window.

In Android Studio 3.2 and higher, each device configuration includes a Boot option control in the advanced settings in the Virtual Device Configuration dialog with which you can specify which snapshot to load when starting that AVD.

Disable Quick Boot

If you want to disable Quick Boot so your AVD always performs a cold boot, do the following:

  1. Select Tools > Device Manager and click Edit this AVD .
  2. Click Show Advanced Settings and scroll down to Emulated Performance.
  3. Select Cold boot.

Cold boot once

Instead of disabling Quick Boot completely, you can cold boot just once by clicking Cold Boot Now from the AVD's drop-down menu in the Device Manager.

Snapshot requirements and troubleshooting

  • Snapshots do not work with Android 4.0.4 (API level 15) or lower.
  • Snapshots do not work with ARM system images for Android 8.0 (API level 26).
  • If the emulator fails to boot from a snapshot, select Cold Boot Now for the AVD in the Device Manager and submit a bug report.
  • Snapshots are not reliable when software rendering is enabled. If snapshots do not work, click Edit this AVD in the Device Manager and change Graphics to either Hardware or Automatic.
  • Loading or saving a snapshot is a memory-intensive operation. If you do not have enough RAM free when a load or save operation begins, the operating system may swap the contents of RAM to the hard disk, which can greatly slow the operation. If you experience very slow snapshot loads or saves, you may be able to speed these operations by freeing RAM. Closing applications that are not essential for your work is a good way to free RAM.

Wi-Fi

When using an AVD with API level 25 or higher, the emulator provides a simulated Wi-Fi access point ("AndroidWifi"), and Android automatically connects to it.

You can disable Wi-Fi in the emulator by running the emulator with the command-line parameter -feature -Wifi.

Limitations

The Android Emulator doesn't include virtual hardware for the following:

  • Bluetooth
  • NFC
  • SD card insert/eject
  • Device-attached headphones
  • USB

The watch emulator for Wear OS doesn't provide the Overview (Recent Apps) button, D-pad, and fingerprint sensor.