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 succeeded!
There’s a free, open-source tool designed precisely for the purpose of viewing your phone screen on your laptop or desktop PC.
In this post I tell you more about the app, where you can download it, and how to use it on Ubuntu & Linux Mint.
Scrcpy: See Your Phone Screen on a PC
‘Scrcpy‘ is the tool in question. It lets you mirror an Android device to a PC desktop (in my case a Linux PC). We’re talking a free-floating window on a Windows, macOS or Linux computer here, and all entirely for free!
But what if you want to do more than just see your phone’s screen on your PC. Can it do that too?
‘Scrcpy’ lets you interact with your phone using your computer’s keyboard and mouse (or, if you’ve got one, a touchpad or touchscreen).
It’s kinda crazy the opportunities this opens up.
For example, you can use Scrcpy and 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 beating a difficult level in a popular game; and much more.
Scrcpy is especially useful for Android app developers who want to test, debug or screencast their software. The app even let you to to drag and drop
.apk files from your desktop on to the app window to install it on your phone.
Versatility is what makes Scrcpy a utility that developers will want to add to their software toolbox, and keep coming back to. Regular users will want to play around with it too.
And the fact that it is 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: