Nexus S (GSM) TWRP Recovery AIO

For installing custom ROMs and other such hacks and modifications on Android devices, a custom recovery is often required, and ClockworkMod (CWM) recovery has always been the most popular recovery available. However, CWM recovery’s origins stem from the time when one would have to use the hardware buttons on a device to navigate in recovery, making it extremely cumbersome for regular use.

And that’s where TWRP recovery came in. TWRP recovery features touch support, with proper graphical buttons for accessing various options, making it extremely popular for many devices for its ease of use as well as some useful functionality – fast backups, inbuilt file manager, themes support, and more – not found in CWM recovery, while also making installation of custom ROMs and mods a breeze thanks to the impressive touch-based GUI.

TWRP recovery can also perform all other basic functions of recovery, like wiping data/factory resetting the device, and even includes some advanced functionality such as the ability to queue up multiple ROMs (or mods) for automatic installation, and lots more.

This all-in-one guide puts together everything that one would need to flash TWRP recovery on their Nexus S, along with step-by-step instructions of the entire procedure, so that you can start flashing custom ROMs and make other modifications on your device.

Installing TWRP recovery will void the phone’s warranty, and as install a custom recovery requires unlocking the bootloader on the phone, it will also wipe all the data on the phone and factory reset. However, by flashing a stock firmware image and recovery and re-locking the bootloader, warranty can be regained, and you’ll be able to back up and restore all data before and after flashing TWRP recovery.

Now let’s see how TWRP recovery can be installed on the Nexus S.


The procedure described below is only for the GSM variant of the Samsung Nexus S. Do not try it on the CDMA/4G Nexus S variants or any other device.


The methods and procedures discussed here are considered risky, so try them out at your own risk, and make sure to read each step carefully before attempting anything. We will not be held responsible if anything goes wrong.

Things you need:

  1. Take a backup of all the data on your phone. Flashing TWRP recovery requires unlocking the bootloader on the phone which wipes everything from the phone and factory resets it. Use our Android Backup Guide for help on how to back up apps and other data, such as contacts, SMS, bookmarks, etc. Then, after you’ve backed personal data up, copy everything off the phone’s storage to a computer.
    • NOTE: Backup is optional and you can skip this step if you do not wish to back up anything.
  2. Unlock the bootloader on your Nexus S using this guide. Unlocking bootloader wipes all data from the phone so make sure you take a backup as mentioned in step 1.
    • NOTE: If you’ve already unlocked the bootloader on your device, you can skip this step.
  3. Download and install the Android SDK → from here. This will install the necessary drivers for the phone on your computer.
    • NOTE: If you’ve already installed the SDK when unlocking the bootloader, skip this step.
  4. On the phone, go into the Settings » Developer options menu and enable the USB Debugging option. On Android 2.3, this option can be found in Settings » Applications » Developer options.

Installation of TWRP Recovery

  1. Download Fastboot files, which will be used for flashing the recovery.
    Download Fastboot | Filename:
  2. Extract the file on your computer to the C: drive to get a folder named Fastboot with four files inside it.
  3. Download TWRP recovery from the TWRP downloads page. The link will be under the “Download – Recovery Image Method” text. The file should be named something like “openrecovery-twrp-*.*.*-crespo.img”, where *.*.* will be the version of recovery.
  4. Copy the TWRP file that you downloaded to the Fastboot folder on drive C so that you now have a total of 5 files inside.
  5. Turn off your phone. Then, boot into fastboot mode by holding down the Volume down + Volume Up + Power buttons together till the screen turns on and shows “Start” written in big green letters.
  6. Then, connect your phone to the computer with your USB cable, then wait for Windows to finish installing the drivers (drivers will be installed only the first time you connect the phone to the computer). For reliability, ensure that you use a USB port at the back if you are using a desktop computer, as the front panel ports can be loose and cause problems.
  7. Click on Start menu » All Programs » Accessories » right-click on Command Prompt and click on Run as administrator. If you are using Windows 8, this can be done by right-clicking on the extreme bottom left corner of the taskbar, then selecting “Command Prompt (admin)”.
  8. Now, perform the following steps in the command prompt to flash TWRP.
    1. Navigate to the Fastboot folder which you obtained in step 2. For example, if the Fastboot folder is in drive C on your computer, enter cd C:Fastboot in command prompt (and press Enter) to navigate to the folder.
    2. Then, enter fastboot devices. If your Nexus S has been detected properly, you will see a device ID show up in command prompt. If nothing comes up, make sure you have installed the drivers, disconnect phone, remove and re-insert battery, and retry the procedure from step 5.
    3. Now, flash TWRP recovery on the phone by entering fastboot flash recovery *filename*.img in the command prompt, where *filename* has to be replaced by the name of the recovery file that you have downloaded. For example: fastboot flash recovery openrecovery-twrp-
    4. After recovery is flashed, you will see an “OKAY”/”finished” message in the command prompt. The phone will also show “FASTBOOT STATUS – OKAY” at the bottom of the screen once recovery has been flashed.
    5. Now, using the volume buttons on the phone, change “Start” to “Recovery mode“, then press the power button to boot into recovery. Once recovery boots up, select “Reboot” then select “System” to reboot the phone into Android.
  9. TWRP recovery is now installed on your Nexus S. Make sure to read the “Booting into TWRP Recovery” section below to find out how you can boot into TWRP when needed.

Booting into TWRP Recovery

Whenever you want to use TWRP recovery, you can boot into it via Fastboot mode. The procedure to boot into TWRP recovery is given below.

  1. Turn off the phone.
  2. Then, boot into fastboot mode by holding down the Volume Up + Power buttons together till Fastboot Mode shows up on screen.
  3. Press the volume down key till the “RECOVERY” text is selected in fastboot mode, then select it by pressing the power button. The phone will then reboot into TWRP recovery, where you can tap on options to select them.
  4. Rebooting back into Android can be done by selecting the “Reboot” option in the main menu of TWRP, then clicking on “System”.

TWRP recovery is now installed on your Nexus S, and you will be able to flash custom ROMs, hacks, kernels, take backups of and restore ROMs, and make other modifications such as factory resetting the device. If you run into any problems, let us know in the comments and we’ll help you out.