Making Android open-source is probably the smartest thing Google has ever done with their platform. Putting control in the hands of thousands of dedicated developers has left us with some fairly spectacular results. If you know what you’re doing, there’s a way to customize just about every part of Android.
Even the boot animation can be changed if you know how. If you’re tired of that boring start-up that came with stock, fret not because it can be changed. This isn’t the most complex hack (we’re not changing how Android handles multitasking). However, it is a nice option to customize another part of your phone. On a purely practical level, we’re a little sick of hearing the noisy boot-up noise for MIUI. This guide can help you change your animation so it’s exactly what you want.
The Android boot animation is stored within one very special file named bootanimation.zip inside the phone’s memory. Change the .zip, change the animation. It’s as simple as that.
What’s not simple is how Android stores bootanimation.zip. For some unknown reason, Android actually keeps two copies of the animation file. One is stored at /data/local and the other at /system/media.
The difference between these locations is minor. The /data/local copy does not require root access. The phone also uses this animation before the other. The other one in /system/media does require root. However, installing a new animation to /system/media means that it will survive a factory reset. It’s a trade-off.
Regardless of which location you decide to use for your new boot animation, be absolutely sure to back up the original files. When replacing bootanimation.zip, keep a copy of the original .zip file saved to your computer. To be absolutely sure, you may want to make a Nandroid backup before doing any modifications.
How It Works
This section is intended to inform those who might wish to make their own start-up animation. If you have no interest in doing so, feel free to skip ahead. Understanding exactly how bootanimation.zip works is not necessary to install a new one.
If you copy bootanimation.zip to your computer and unzip it, inside will be a collection of files. There will be folders labeled part0, part1, part2 and so on. Also included will be desc.txt.
For our MIUI ROM, the boot animation was split into two parts. Part 0 had a huge list of image files which it used for the animation. Part 1 simply held the final screen at the end of the animation.
Desc.txt contains extremely simple instructions telling the phone how to run the animation. The first line lists the width, height, and frame rate of the animation. So 480 800 24 means to run the animation at 480×800 resolution and 24 frames per second.
The next two lines refer to the animation files. “P” invokes a part folder. The next number tells the phone how many times to play that part of the animation. So our second line “p 1 0 part0” means that the animation files in the part0 folder will play once. If we put zero, then the animation will loop until fully booted. The most notable use of looping animations is CyanogenMod 7’s spinning blue arrow.
The second number in that line is the pause time. This tells the phone how long it should pause DURING/BEFORE/AFTER/ the animation. Pause time is measured in frames, so 24 would be 24 frames of pause at 24 frames per second. Thus it pauses for one second. Our 0 means the phone pauses for zero frames (no time).
Creating Your Own Boot Animation
The first step is drawing the animation. Create a series of images which form one continuous animation. The frames must be labeled by increasing numbers, e.g. 000.png and 001.png and so on. Each part of the animation goes into a separate folder, starting with part0 and part1 and so on.
Finally open Notepad and write out a few lines of instructions. The first line should be the resolution and frame rate of the animation. The resolution must match that of your device. If you don’t know what that resolution is, see this page. The frame rate should match the one in the original desc.txt.
The next lines dictate the parts. Each part folder requires one line of instruction. Write out the numbers for each part of the animation. Once finished, save the file as desc.txt.
The final step is creating the .zip file. Select all the part folders and desc.txt. Right click on the files and select Send To > Compressed folder. Windows should quickly create the new file. Be sure to name it bootanimation.zip and nothing else.
Various Methods of Changing the Boot Animation:
Installation by ROM
Although there is a universal procedure for changing the animation, certain ROMs and themes come with their own rules for flashing. The MIUI ROM lets you change the boot animation within its Themes app. You can download custom animations within the app, no modifications needed.
Installation by Flashing
Other themes come as .zip files which can be flashed within ClockworkMod. This is much easier and definitely recommended. When downloading a theme from XDA or elsewhere, be sure to check the page. It might be a flashable .zip.
- To flash a .zip file, simply copy it to the SD card.
- Reboot into recovery mode.
- Now go to “Install .zip” and choose the file from your card. CWM should run the file.
- Reboot once finished.
Installation via ADB
Obviously, this method assumes that you have the Android SDK installed. It’s sort of necessary. If you feel the need to change the boot animation in a really cool programmer way, here’s how.
- Download an animation and rename it to bootanimation.zip.
- Copy the .zip file to the directory where the SDK is installed and within the platform-tools folder. So it’s (installation directory)\android-sdk\platform-tools. Paste the file here.
- Plug in the phone and turn on USB debugging.
- Open Command Prompt and type “cd (installation directory)\android-sdk\platform-tools“.
- Type “adb remount” to mount /system as read-write. You should get a success message.
- Enter in “adb shell” then “su” to double-check that you’re in root mode.
- Navigate to the animation folder by typing “cd /system/customize/resource“.
- Rename the original to the PC by entering “mv bootanimation.zip bootanimation.bak”. Now the original is there if you want to restore it, but the system won’t use it.
- Type “adb push bootanimation.zip /system/customize/resource” to copy the file over. That’s it!
Note: Here we are assuming that the file bootanimation.zip is located at “/system/customize/resource“. In case the file is located at some other location on your phone, replace “/system/customize/resource” by that specific file path.
Installing the Fun Way
If these above options are not open to you, we turn to the fun way. Installation is as easy as copy and paste. Non-rooted users can copy to /data/local, rooted to /system/media. Be warned that copying files to /system requires a file explorer which can mount /system as read-write. We recommend Super Manager for this (be sure to enable root in the settings).
- Before copying anything, make a backup of the original boot animation. Copy and paste it into a safe folder on PC. If something happens, you can restore the backup using these instructions. Just install it like you would a custom animation.
- Connect the phone to the PC.
- Copy bootanimation.zip to SD card.
- Now go into Super Manager and paste it into /data/local or /system/media. Again, the second option requires root.
For our MIUI ROM, there was also a bootaudio.mp3 file. It was this pesky piece of music that made our phone so noisy. We deleted it and sure enough, the phone booted silently. Of course, this also means that you can install custom boot audio. We recommend this musical masterpiece.
To change the boot audio:
- Find an mp3. It should be relatively short as most phones don’t take much time to turn on.
- Rename the mp3 to bootaudio.mp3.
- Copy it to the SD card.
- Now open Super Manager and copy the mp3 to /system/media.
Changing boot animation through Windows with BootAnimation Manager
Changing the boot animation can get confusing. One guy over at XDA has developed a simple point-and-click Windows utility to manage boot animations. You still have to provide your own animation files, but it does everything else from backing up the original to copying over the new one.
Give it a try. If you don’t mind installing one more program, Bootanimation Manager looks promising. We certainly appreciated its ease of use.
As much as we would like to think that phone manufacturers are okay with us cracking open their products, they’re not. Certain companies are a little… possessive about their phones, and that includes the boot animation.
Stock ROMs from HTC and Samsung are notoriously difficult to change. They don’t like you interfering with the boot animation. Samsung uses their own data format that can’t be replicated or replaced. HTC usually stores their bootanimation.zip at /system/customize/resource and no copy at /data/local. For some devices, the file may be stored at some other locations.
This is rather unfortunate. Stock Samsung users, you’re out of luck. There’s simply nothing we can do other than recommend rooting and flashing a new ROM. HTC users can still change the animation, but absolutely have to have root. If you have other trouble, let us know in the comments.
Boot animations are quite popular. The Android community is very fond of making them. As such, there’s a lot to download. We recommend spending some time with Google or search for some at XDA forums.
However, not all boot animations are made equal. Here are a few that really caught our eye.
A custom boot animation is a great way to make your phone a little more you. To be honest, we were much more impressed by the CM9 animation than the boring (and obnoxiously loud) one that came with our MIUI ROM. Custom boot animations are worth it.