When we last showed you how to root the Samsung Galaxy S4, it was the first (and a critically important) step in the process of taking control of your phone. Rooting cedes control to every part of the phone, save one. The recovery. In order to install a custom ROM, save a nandroid backup for emergencies, or flash zip modification files, you need a custom recovery built by the Android enthusiast community.

A custom recovery is critically important for serious hacking. Without it, you’ll be staying on the stock TouchWiz ROM for a long time. Thankfully, taking control of recovery mode on the Galaxy S4 is incredibly easy. The community has produced some stellar third-party tools that automate a long and complex process into a few taps and downloads. You can install a custom recovery by downloading a single app. Here’s how.

Step One: Be Rooted

This step is critically important. If you do not have root access on your S4, you cannot install a custom recovery. See our previous guide on how to root the S4 if you still need to do this.


Root access is necessary because it lets you tamper with some low-level system files. This is necessary in order to change the recovery, a part of the phone normally locked off from users.

How to Install Team Win Recovery Project

The Team Win Recovery Project, commonly called TWRP, is a custom recovery built for flashing new ROMs, saving nandroids and installing modifications. It’s one of the better recoveries we’ve used, with neat features like sleep mode, a touch interface, multi-zip installation, and an option to wipe the caches after installing a zip.

TWRP is a great recovery and we’d recommend installing it. To do so, simply download the app GooManager from the Play Store. This will do the heavy lifting for you.


Open GooManager, tap Menu, and select “Install OpenRecoveryScript”. Confirm that you wish to continue and check the name of the recovery file the app presents. We have the Sprint S4, so the file name ended with “-jfltespr.img”. The app will take you to a download page and automatically download the recovery.

When it is done, let it install. It will flash through some files and install the new recovery. Once it finishes, the phone will boot into recovery mode. Now you can save those nandroid backups or flash a nightly from your favorite ROM. Fair warning, though, the CM10 nightlies we tried are incompatible with TWRP. In order to use those, you need…

Clockwork Mod Recovery

CWMR has much fewer features than TWRP, but it is compatible with the CM10.1 nightlies we tried and that’s what’s important. Try this recovery if you’re interested.


Installing ClockworkMod is just as easy as installing Team Win Recovery Project. Again, you need only download one app. In this case, it’s ROM Manager. Koush’s helper app greatly simplifies the custom recovery process. Once you’ve downloaded ROM Manager, open it and select “Recovery Setup” and pick ClockworkMod.

The app will automatically detect your phone model. Download the recovery file for it. Now let ROM Manager do its thing. It will reboot into recovery and install itself. With any luck you’ll have a working custom recovery that can do all the things the stock one can’t.


Using ClockworkMod is different than using TWRP. The interface is based on the volume keys and power button rather than touch. We prefer TWRP in this regard.

Final Thoughts

In the end, we were happy to have a custom recovery installed so we could flash CM10.1. It’s nice to be back on an AOSP ROM with the features and flexibility of CyanogenMod.