So you just got a new Raspberry Pi, maybe even the Raspberry Pi 4 or Raspberry Pi 400, and took it out of the box. Now what? There are a million things you can do with your mini computer, from using it as a web server to turning it into a retro arcade, but you need to set up the Raspberry Pi first. Note that if it’s a Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller, the setup process is completely different, so check out our article on setting up the Raspberry Pi Pico.
If you bought your Pi as part of a kit, you probably have everything you need in the box, but if you only have the board, you’ll need the following:
And, unless you plan on doing a headless install on the Raspberry Pi and using it via remote desktop or SSH (controlling it from a PC), you’ll need to.
- Keyboard (wired or maybe one of the better wireless keyboards)
- Mouse or other pointing device
- monitor or television
- hdmi cables
Please note that the HDMI cable you need varies depending on the Raspberry Pi you are using. Raspberry Pi 4 B and Pi 400 have two micro HDMI output ports, so they require micro HDMI to HDMI cables. (opens in a new tab) or adapters. The Raspberry Pi Zero/Zero W and Zero 2 W have mini HDMI and therefore require mini HDMI to HDMI cables. (opens in a new tab) to connect to a screen. All other Raspberry Pi models, including the 3B, have standard HDMI ports and can use male-to-male HDMI cables to connect to your monitor or TV.
Setting the power of your Raspberry Pi
You can’t set up a Raspberry Pi without a way to power it on. The Raspberry Pi 4 B and Raspberry Pi 400 (which is just a 4 B inside a keyboard) are powered through a USB Type-C port, which requires a charger that can output 5 volts and 3 amps. Most USB Type-C phone chargers don’t have enough amps to get the job done, unless they’re USB PD capable, but all USB-C laptop chargers should work. While this is unlikely to be an issue, please note that Pi 4 models that were manufactured in 2019 or early 2020 have a bug that prevents them from charging with high-speed data cables that support USB 3.x 5 connections or 10Gbps
All other Raspberry Pi models, including the Raspberry Pi 3 B and Pi Zero/Zero W/Zero 2 W, draw power through a micro USB port, which means you can give it juice by plugging it into any one of many different chargers. third parties or even by plugging it into one of your computer’s USB ports. While you can get away with giving the board much less power (the Pi Zero W works just fine with my laptop’s USB port), the optimal power supply for a Raspberry Pi 3 should be 5 volts and 2.5 amps , which also provides plenty of power for any peripherals you plug into its USB ports.
There are a number of power supplies that are made specifically for Raspberry Pis, including the official Raspberry Pi 4 power supply. (opens in a new tab) and the CanaKit 5V 2.5A power supply (opens in a new tab)for other models of Raspberry Pi.
The Pi doesn’t have a built-in power switch, so the default way to turn it on is to plug it in. You can also find power supplies with built-in on/off switches. However, to prevent data loss, you’ll want to use the shutdown feature in your operating system (OS) before unplugging or shutting it down.
An operating system on a microSD card
There are over a dozen different operating systems for the Raspberry Pi, and there is even a way to run full Windows 11 on the Pi 4. However, the Raspberry Pi operating system, a special version of Debian Linux that is optimized for the Pi, is the best platform for most use cases, so that’s the one we’ll explain how to configure.
The Raspberry Pi has no internal storage, but rather boots from a microSD memory card that you provide. Make sure you get a card that is at least 8GB, preferably 32GB or more, and has a class 10 speed (check out our list of the best Raspberry Pi microSD cards). It almost goes without saying, but you will need some kind of card reader to write the OS from your PC.
Headless installation for Raspberry Pi?
If you just want to experiment with the Pi or use it to control physical objects like lights, motors, and sensors, you don’t need to give it its own screen and keyboard. Follow our separate instructions on how to do a headless install on the Raspberry Pi, and you’ll be able to control the device from your PC or Mac desktop, using VNC or SSH remote access software.
Download and install the Raspberry Pi operating system
Once you have all the components you need, follow the steps below to create the boot disk you’ll need to set up your Raspberry Pi. These steps should work on a Windows, Mac, or Linux PC (we tried this on Windows, but it should be the same on all three).
1. Insert a microSD card / reader On your computer.
two. Download and install the Official Raspberry Pi Imager. Available for Windows, macOS, or Linux, this app will download and install the latest Raspberry Pi operating system. There are other ways to do this, namely by downloading a Raspberry Pi OS image file and then using a third-party application to “burn” it, but Imager makes it easier.
3. Click Choose Operating System.
Four. Select the Raspberry Pi (32-bit) operating system from the OS menu (there are other options, but for most uses, 32-bit is best).
Four. Click Choose storage Y choose SD card you are using
5. Click the settings button or press CTRL + SHIFT + X to enter settings.
6. Fill in the configuration fields as follows and then press save. All of these fields are technically optional, but highly recommended so that you can set up your Raspberry Pi and get it online as soon as you boot it up. If you don’t set a username and password here, you’ll have to go through a setup wizard that asks you to create them on first boot.
- set hostname: the name of your Pi. It could be “raspberrypi” or whatever you want.
- Enable SSH: Allow SSH connections to the Pi. Recommended.
- Use password/public key authentication: login method via SSH
- Set username and password: Choose the username and password you will use for the Pi
- Configure wireless LAN: yeset the SSID and password of the Wi-FI network
- Wireless LAN Country: If you are setting up Wi-Fi, you should choose this.
- Set regional settings: Set keyboard layout and time zone (probably chosen correctly by default)
7. Click Write. It will take a few minutes for the app to download the operating system and write to your card.
Booting up your Raspberry Pi for the first time
Once you’ve finished writing the Raspberry Pi operating system to a microSD card, it’s the moment of truth.
1. Insert the microSD card on the Raspberry Pi.
two. Connect the Raspberry Pi to a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
3. Connect an Ethernet cable if you plan to use cable Internet.
Four. connect the pi to turn it on.
If you used the Raspberry Pi Imager setup to create a username and password, you will be able to go directly to the desktop environment, but if not, you will get a setup wizard.
Using the Raspberry Pi Initial Setup Wizard
If you chose a username and password in the Raspberry Pi Imager setup before writing the microSD card, you will get the desktop on first boot. But if you didn’t, you’ll be prompted to create a username and password and enter all network credentials through a setup wizard on first boot. If that happens, follow these steps to finish setting up your Raspberry Pi.
1. Click Next in the dialog.
two. Set your country and language and click Next. The default options may already be correct.
3. Enter a username and password you want to use for your main login. Click Next.
Four. Turn on Reduce desktop size” if the desktop edges are cut off. Otherwise just Click Next.
5. Select the appropriate Wi-Fi network on the screen afterwards, whenever you are connecting via Wi-Fi. If you don’t have Wi-Fi or are using Ethernet, you can skip this.
6. Enter your Wi-Fi password (unless you were using Ethernet and skipped it).
7. Click Next when prompted to Update Software. This will only work when connected to the Internet and may take several minutes. If you are not connected to the Internet, click Skip.
8. Click Restart.
If you want to change these settings later, you can find the region and password settings, along with many other options, by clicking the Pi icon in the top left corner of the screen and navigating to Preferences -> Raspberry Pi Settings. You can configure Wi-Fi by clicking the Wi-Fi/Network icon on the taskbar.
Change your screen resolution on Raspberry Pi
If you don’t have enough desktop space, you may want to change your screen resolution to make sure it matches what your screen is capable of. If you’re using a headless Pi and accessing it via VNC, you probably still want at least a 720p display.
To change the resolution of the Raspberry Pi:
1. Open the Display settings menu clicking the Pi icon and then selecting Preferences -> Display Settings.
two. Right click on the HDMI box Y select your Resolution in the Resolution menu.
3. Click the check box. The screen resolution will be updated.
Four. Click Yes restart.
What do I do now?
Now that you’ve set up your Raspberry Pi, there are so many different things you can do with it. Some popular uses include turning your Raspberry Pi into a retro arcade machine, using your Raspberry Pi as a web server, or using it as the brain of a robot, security system, or custom iOT device.
Here are some tutorials to get you started.