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Quickly create a Headless Raspberry Pi (without monitor or keyboard)

Have a Raspberry Pi, but don’t have a display device (HDMI Monitor) ? This are a few easy steps I followed and it worked, every time!

Aim / Expected outcome:

Install a brand new Raspbian Image and see the desktop, without connecting a monitor or a keyboard to the little Pi.


  1. Raspberry Pi 3
  2. SD Card (4GB +)
  3. Raspbian OS Image File
  4. SDFormatter
  5. Win32DiskImager
  6. PuTTY
  7. VNC Viewer

Steps :

Assuming you are using a windows machine (I did it on a win10 laptop)

  1. Download
  2. Unzip the Raspbian image to a folder and copy the folder path.
  3. Insert the SD Card into a card reader and quick format it using SDFormatter.
  4. Launch Win32DiskImager and select the image file from step 2 as ‘Image File’. Select the formatted SD card as ‘Device’.
  5. Go have a coffee till the image gets written – takes a few good minutes however fast your machine is!
    • After imaging is done, the SD Card will have two partitions, one of them will read ‘BOOT’ as the label.
  6. SSH
    • Make sure you have file extension visible. To enable, Open File Explorer Options, click the View Tab, un-check hide extensions.
    • Open the ‘BOOT’ drive and create a file – SSH.txt. Rename file to remove the .txt extension. Save.
  7. Wifi
    • To let the pi connect to your wifi soon as it boots, create a file named wpa_supplicant.conf in ‘BOOT’.
    • Paste the following and save.ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
      ssid=”YOUR WIFI SSID”
      psk=”YOUR WIFI PWD”
    • At boot time, raspbian moves the SSH and wpa_supplicant.conf files to where they are needed.
  8. Eject the SD card and plug it into your Pi and boot it.
  9. Volia! your pi should not only boot the new copy of the OS but should be online.
  10. Figure out your Pi’s IP address from your WiFi’s connected devices. Google it if you don’t know how.
  11. Enable VNC via SSH
    • Download and install PuTTY
    • Type your pi’s IP and click open. A command window should prompt.
    • login as ‘pi’
    • password ‘raspberry’
    • Enter ‘sudo raspi-config’. Should launch a blue window.
    • Go to 5 Interfacing Options, select VNC and enable it.
  12. Now download and install VNC Viewer.
  13. Enter your Pi’s IP and hit Enter. Login using pi/raspberry. You should see the Pi’s desktop.

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