Set up your Raspberry Pi without a monitor

Set up your Raspberry Pi without a monitor

Here's a guide how to setup a Raspberry Pi without using a monitor, keyboard or mouse. I keep googling these instructions myself so thought it would be handy to have them on my own blog!


This is for people using a Windows machine who have an SD card reader.


I use Raspberry Pis as robots, as stairlights, printers, screens. I never plug a Raspberry Pi into a monitor. I don't have a spare monitor lying around my house. I always connect over SSH. Here's a guide on how to setup a Raspberry Pi without plugging it into a monitor, keyboard or mouse.

Download and install

  1. Download the Raspberry Pi operating system, Raspian. For Windows users Download the zip file
  2. Go to your Downloads folder and right click on the zip file you just downloaded and select Extract All
  3. This creates a folder with the image name with one file in it with the extension .img
  4. Download and install BalenaEtcher

Flash the SD card

  1. Put the SD card into your computer

  2. Open BalenaEtcher

  3. Click Select Image and choose the file you downloaded and unzipped from Raspberry Pi. Mine is called 2019-04-08-raspbian-stretch.img

  4. Your SD card should be selected under Drive but in case you have multiple drives click Select Drive and choose your SD card

  5. Click "Flash!" It will take some time to flash the image to your SD card



  1. You will need to eject then place the SD card back into your computer as it automatically ejects itself after it's been flashed
  2. Open My Computer then your SD card, mine is the E drive


  1. Right click inside the folder and select New then Text Document
  2. Name the new document ssh, make sure you remove .txt from the end. The entire filename is just ssh

Add your login details

  1. Right click inside the SD card folder and select New then Text Document
  2. Name the new document wpa_supplicant.conf. Again remove .txt from the filename
  3. Open this document in Notepad
  4. Enter the following text
ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev

  1. Change YOURNETWORK to the name of your wifi
  2. Change YOURPASSWORD to the password to access your wifi
  3. Save the changes to the file.
  4. Make sure the file is called wpa_supplicant.conf and .txt hasn't snuck onto the end
  5. Eject the SD card
  6. Place it in your Raspberry Pi
  7. Turn the Raspberry Pi on

Find your Raspberry Pi on the network

  1. In a web browser type
  2. With my router I am given a lot of options. These will be different depending on your router and your internet company. On mine there is a link to DHCP Client List, click this
  3. This shows all the devices connected to my wifi. Find the one called raspberrypi
  4. Find the number next to it, mine is This is your raspberry pis IP address on your network


Access your pi

  1. Download and install Putty
  2. Launch Putty
  3. Enter your raspberry pi's IP address into Host Name

4. Select Open
5. You might get a warning the first time you access the pi using Putty. Select Yes
6. Enter the default username and password
Username: pi
Password: raspberry
7. You now have terminal access to your Raspberry Pi. You can run code here and create new files.

To trasfer files across I would recommend downloading Filezilla.

Name your Pi

If you have a lot of raspberry pis connected to the network, it's a good idea to give them names as IP addresses can change.

  1. In the terminal you've opened using Putty type
    sudo raspi-config

  2. Select 2. Network Options

  3. Select Hostname

  4. Enter a new hostname

  5. Use the TAB key on your keyboard to move down to Finish

  6. You will need to reboot your pi before the changes are made

In the list of IP addresses your pi will now appear with that name.

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