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Setting Up a Raspberry Pi without a Monitor or Keyboard

There are a lot of how-to’s online describing ways to set up a Raspberry Pi without a monitor or keyboard, but none of them are simple or straightforward. This will be.

I’m going to walk through how to do this on a Mac, but something like this should also work on Windows using internet connection sharing and the Event Viewer.

1. Connect an unpowered raspberry pi to your Mac via an ethernet cable.

Unpowered Raspberry Pi

2. Enable internet connection sharing.

  • Open “Sharing” in system preferences. (You can just type “Sharing” into spotlight.)
  • Click on “Internet sharing.”
  • In the “To computers using:” box, select the adapter you have the ethernet cable from the Raspberry Pi connected to. In my case this is “Thunderbolt ethernet.” Beware: if you are using a USB ethernet adapter, the generically named “USB Ethernet” is probably not what you want. Your USB adapter is will probably have a different name in this list.
  • Check the “On” checkbox for “Internet sharing.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 4.30.56 PM

3. Open Console.

You can just type “Console” into spotlight.

Console in spotlight

4. Power-On your Raspberry Pi.

Powered Raspberry Pi

5. Watch Console output for DHCP ACK.

DHCP output with IP address in Console

6. Log on to your Pi.

You can now log onto your Raspberry Pi via ssh using the ip address acquired in the previous step: Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 4.32.58 PM

The default user for the raspbian image is pi, the password is raspberry.

And there you go!

This method also works for other headless computers that use DHCP and start an ssh server by default. I’ve used it for Raspberry Pi’s, Odroids, and other weird things.