I wanted to mirror my Android phone on the Ubuntu desktop over USB, but didn’t want to install an app on my phone or subscribe to a service.

A canny bit of Googling threw up a neat solution: a free, open-source tool designed precisely for this purpose.

And in this post I’m gonna tell you a bit more about it.

Scrcpy: View Phone Screen on PC

Do more than just see your Android phone’s screen on your PC: interact with it using a your keyboard and mouse

Scrcpy‘ (which I guess is truncated form of ‘Screen Copy’) lets you mirror your Android screen in a free floating window on a Windows, macOS or (more importantly for me) Linux desktop, entirely for free.

But chances are you want to do more than just see your phone’s screen on your PC, right?

Well, you can do that too: Scrcpy lets you interact with your phone from your desktop using a regular keyboard and mouse.

Which is kinda crazy!

It 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 of popular game; and more!

The app is especially useful for Android app developers looking to test, debug or screencast their wares. A neat trick: drag an .apk file from the desktop and drop it on to app window to install it!

Overall, this versatility makes Scrcpy a utility that canny developers will want to add to their software toolbox.

For the rest of us, it’s just a whole lot of fun! And the fact that’s free, open-source software? Well, that just adds to its appeal.

Display & Control Android over USB

Scrcpy running on ubuntu laptop

Scrcpy is created by the team behind Genymotion, a popular Android emulator but it is not an Android emulator itself.

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.

Now, this sort of functionality isn’t new. Apps like Vysor and AirDroid offer Android screen mirroring on a PC, albeit (often) at a cost.

But Scrcpy is free, and gives you a high-resolution “mirror” of your phone’s screen in a floating window. You can freely resize and fullscreen this window and, if you change orientation on your phone, the desktop window will match.

Interaction takes place in “real time” and there 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 to make it a viable, reliable, and free alternative to Vysor et al.

And while tech like Chromecast and Miracast mean it’s never been easier to cast the contents of your smartphone to a nearby screen, it’s nice to be able to interact with what you see without needing to paw the touchscreen!

Scrcpy Requirements

Replying to a message Android on PC
Replying to a WhatsApp message using my PC keyboard

If you want 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 with your smartphone or tablet it must be running Android 5.0 or later, and you must have developer options > USB debugging enabled.

(To Enable developer options in Android is easy: just reputedly tap the build/version number listed in Settings > System > About Phone).

You need to turn this setting on

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 caboodle “just works” over USB, it’s what I used

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.

Plus, as noted by XDA Developers, the latest version of Scrcpy even lets you mirror your phone’s screen when the display is off! Earlier versions couldn’t do this.

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
  • Interact using your mouse

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:

View Scrcpy Releases on GitHub

The easiest way to install Scrcpy on Ubuntu is using the official Snap app available in the Ubuntu Software app:

Install Scrcpy on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS+

You can also install the Scrcpy Snap app on compatible Linux distributions using snapd and the following command line code:

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:

scrcpy
Let me know what you use this tool for!
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