Debug Android emulator remotly

When developing apps for Android I'm using Xamarin and Visual Studio. I'm running Windows under Parallels.Therefor I can't use the x86 emulator with HAXM for hardware acceleration. But Android emulator is really slow without hardware acceleration, because of that i running the emulator on the host OS, in my case OS X.

To set up remote debugging there are a few steps to follow.

  • Enable "Remote Login" in OS X. You find it under "System Preferences" - > "Sharing".
  • Install the Android SDK on the host OS.
  • Open SDK manager and install the Intel x86 Atom System Image for the API version you want the emulator to run on. If you have Xamarin Studio installed I think that is the easist way to start the SDK manager.

SDK Manager


Create emualtor dialog

  • Start your new emulator, if it start and using HAXM successfully you will se the text "HAX is working and emulator runs in fast virt mode" during the startup process.
  • Kill the adb server on the host OS using the command adb kill-server.
  • Kill the adb server on the guest OS using the command adb kill-server.
  • Install Putty on your Windows machine, that can be downloaded from here,
  • Open Putty and type the hostname or IP address to your host OS.
  • Under SSH -> Tunnel, configure port forwarding on port 5554 and port 5555.



  • Open a new session and type your login credentials when Putty asks for them.
  • Start the adb server on the host OS using the command adb start-server. To verify that the emulator is connected use the command adb devices. 
  • You will now be ready to start debug your app in the emulator remotely.

Running Windows Phone emulator in Parallels on OS X

If you're developing apps for all the major mobile platforms i guess you are using a Mac since that is the only way you can build iOS apps. If you're using Parallels to run Windows for Windows Phone development you need to activate nested virtualization if you want to use the emulator. This is because that Windows Phone emulator is using virtualization with Hyper-V.

To activate nested virtualization, shut down your virtual machine if it is started. Then open the configuration view for your machine in parallels and go to the "Optimization tab" and check "Enable nested virtualization". When you start your virtual machine you'll be able to use Hyper-V and the Windows Phone emulator.

Configuration dialog for virtual machine