I wanted to mirror my Android phone on my desktop using USB, but I didn’t want to install an app on my phone or subscribe to a service to do it.
And I’m pleased to say it was easy thanks to a free, open-source tool designed precisely for this purpose of viewing your phone screen on your laptop or desktop PC.
And in this post I’m gonna tell you a bit more about it.
Scrcpy: See Your Phone Screen on a PC
‘Scrcpy‘ is the tool in question, and it lets you mirror an Android devices to a PC desktop. We’re talking a free-floating window on a Windows, macOS or Linux computer, and all entirely for free.
But chances are you want to do more than just see your phone’s screen on your PC too, right?
Well, scrcpy lets you do that too. The app lets you interact with your phone from your desktop using a regular keyboard and mouse or touchpad.
Which is kinda crazy!
This means you can use a full-sized physical keyboard to tap out a ranty/witty Instagram comment or email; use your mouse to swipe, sift and sort through Snapchat’s
terrible interface; record yourself acing a difficult level in a popular mobile game; and much more.
The app is also useful for Android app developers looking to test, debug or screencast their software as it allows you to to drag an
.apk file from your desktop and drop it on to the scrcpy app window to install it.
Versatility is what makes Scrcpy a utility that developers will want to add to their software toolbox and regular users will want to play around with.
And the fact that’s free, open-source software?
Well, that just adds to its appeal.
Display & Control Android over USB
Scrcpy is created by the team behind Genymotion, a popular Android emulator but it is not an Android emulator itself. It doesn’t not “install” Android on your desktop PC, or make a copy of it, or anything else.
As the Github project page explains, the app is designed to: “…display and control of Android devices connected on USB (or over TCP/IP). It does not require any root access. It works on GNU/Linux, Windows and MacOS.”
Scrcpy is 100% free. It gives you a high-resolution “mirror” of your phone’s screen in a floating window. You can freely resize and fullscreen this window and you can chang or lock the orientation if needed.
Interaction happens in “real time”. There’s is not, in my testing, any perceptible delay or stuttering while using it.
Does Scrcpy do everything rival apps can? No, but it does enough. That makes it a viable, reliable, and free alternative to Vysor et al.
And while tech like Chromecast and Miracast mean that it’s never been easier to cast the content of your smartphone to a nearby screen it’s useful being able to interact with what you see without needing to paw a touchscreen!
Scrcpy System Requirements
To see your Android screen on the Linux desktop to interact with apps or content, record your phone screen, or perform other basic tasks, you can — and you already have everything you need to do it!
First thing: Android.
To use Scrcpy your smartphone or tablet must be running Android 5.0 or later. You must have
developer options > USB debugging enabled.
To enable developer options in Android just go to
Settings > System > About Phone and continually tap the build/version number listed until a notification appears.
And that is pretty much only hard requirement, provided you’re happy to attach your smartphone to your Linux machine using USB.
To use the Scrcpy wireless display feature requires the
android-tools-adb package on your Linux desktop. You’ll connect to your phone over
adb (which involves entering IP addresses; see Scrcpy docs for more).
Since whole thing “just works” over USB, it’s what I choose to use.
Benefits of ScrCpy
Scrcpy’s focus is on being lightweight and performant. It touts high frame rates and low latency.
The tool is also non-intrusive; you don’t need to be root, there are no apps to install on your phone, and no extraneous extensions to install on your desktop.
Scrcpy works by running a server on your Android device, which the desktop app communicates with using USB (or wirelessly using an ADB tunnel).
In short, Scrcpy is a terrific way to view your Android screen on your computer without almost zero-effort, and interact with it in real time.
Scrcpy Features at a glance:
- Does not require root
- Available for Windows, macOS & Linux
- No app required required on phone.
- High resolution mirror
- Type using your computer keyboard
- Clipboard sync
- Interact using your mouse
How to Install Scrcpy on Ubuntu
Scrcpy is free, open-source software available for Windows, macOS and Linux. You can find a variety of downloads on the ‘releases’ page of the Scrcpy GitHub:
You can install Scrcpy on Ubuntu as a Snap app from the Snap Store:
You can install Scrcpy on Ubuntu as a Snap app using
snapd and the following command:
sudo snap install scrcpy
Ensure your Android device has USB debugging enabled (see ‘requirements’ section above for details on how to do that), attatch to your Linux PC or laptop using a USB cable, and then launch Scrcpy from the command line: