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How to Connect Raspberry Pi with Laptop – Headless Setup

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How to Connect Raspberry Pi with Laptop - Headless Setup - How to Connect Raspberry Pi with Laptop - Headless Setup - How to Connect Raspberry Pi with Laptop - Headless Setup - How to Connect Raspberry Pi with Laptop - Headless Setup

How to Connect Raspberry Pi with Laptop – Headless Setup

Think of carrying a Keyboard, Display and Mouse separately for a small Raspberry Pi. It’s little odd right?. There is an option to use your own laptop hardware (Keyboard, Mouse and Display) with the Raspberry Pi. This guide will help you to get it done. Using Ethernet cable (No Router needed) you can directly connect the Raspberry pi with the laptop’s Ethernet port. There is a protocol called SSH (Secure Shell) which is a cryptographic network protocol to operate network services securely over an unsecured Network. The VNC – Virtual Network Computing is used to remotely control Raspberry Pi through another computer. Let’s see how to use all of these to use your raspberry pi with the laptop. If you have any questions and doubts use the comment section below.


  • Raspberry Pi
  • Ethernet Cable
  • 16GB MicroSD card
  • USB Cable for power supply

Buy Raspberry Pi 3B+ Complete Kit


These are the links to the software that we have used.

Attention: If your Raspberry Pi has Wi-Fi then you can access it in Wireless way (No Ethernet cable needed). Check the following tutorial for Headless Wi-Fi Setup or continue for Headless setup with Ethernet:

How to Setup Raspberry Pi Headless – WiFi

Raspberry Pi Zero W Headless setup – Windows 10 RNDIS Driver issue resolved

Connect Raspberry Pi with Mobile Screen | Android | VNC Viewer

Step 1: Format the SD card with SD card formatter.

1.Pi with laptop -  -  -
Step 2: After formatting open Win32 Disk Imager (or Etcher), locate the downloaded Raspbian image file and flash it to the SD Card.

2.Pi with Laptop -  -  -

Note: NOOBs will not work with this set up (NOOBs is Just an OS installer). So, we need Raspbian. The Current version while writing this is Raspbian Stretch (Get Latest OS – Download Here). A Raspbian OS is an image file with the ‘.img’ extension (It comes with ‘.zip’ file you have to extract it before flashing).

Step 3: Once flashing done. Navigate to the SD Card folder. You can able to see the files extracted from the image.

3.Pi with Laptop -  -  -

Step 4: Duplicate the ‘cmdline.txt’ file and rename it to ‘cmdline.normal’. Now we have both ‘cmdline.txt’ and ‘cmdline.normal’. You can toggle back to the old version by just swapping the filenames.

Step 5: Now open ‘cmdline.txt’ file and add the IP address at the end of the file. (Be sure there is no space or newline after that. Use Notepad++ or Sublime text to identify if you did any newline added).

For network settings where the IP is obtained automatically use this IP Address

For Network settings where IP address is fixed use the same IP Address of the computer except the last byte. (Changing other bytes won’t work)
Example: If your computer IP Address is
Then change the last byte from 1 to 2 (anything till 254). Like this
Here on my computer the IP address is obtained automatically. So I’m using ‘ip=’.

4.Pi with Laptop -  -  -

Step 6: Note down the IP address which you given. Now duplicate the ‘cmdline.txt’ and rename it to ‘cmdline.direct’.

Note: The only important file is ‘cmdline.txt’. The other files are just for the backup purpose only.

Step 7: Now create an empty file called ‘ssh’ without any extension. Make sure the file name extensions option is selected in windows view settings.

5.Pi with Laptop -  -  -

Enable file name extensions in view tab.

6.Pi with Laptop -  -  -

Empty ssh file to enable SSH in Raspberry Pi.

Step 8: Eject the microSD card from the computer and place it in the Raspberry Pi. Then connect the PC and Raspberry Pi via Ethernet cable. Then connect USB cable for power supply. Wait until the pi boots up completely. It might take up to 90 Seconds. You can notice the ACT LED (Shows SD card activity) on the raspberry pi until it stops blinking frequently.

Step 9: Open Putty on your PC and enter the IP address (raspberry pi IP) and port as 22. Click open, this will open a terminal and ask for username and password.

Raspberry Pi with Laptop - Putty

Step 10: Enter the default username as ‘pi’ and default password as ‘raspberry’.

Raspberry Pi with Laptop

Step 11: Now type vncserver in the terminal window. This will run the virtual server on the raspberry pi. So that, you can access the Pi.

Raspberry Pi with Laptop

Step 12: Now go to Google Chrome and open VNC Viewer App (You need to install from google apps or visit website). Enter the IP Address of raspberry pi with :1 at end of the IP. Like this ‘’

Raspberry Pi with Laptop

Step 13: Now enter the Pi username and password then click connect. The default username is ‘pi’. The default password is ‘raspberry’.

Raspberry Pi with Laptop

Step 14: Congrats! You can access the raspberry pi desktop screen on your laptop. You can use your PC’s Keyboard, Mouse and Display with your Raspberry Pi Virtually.

Raspberry Pi with Laptop

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Comments (10)


    We proceed with the same steps you showed.but putty always show network error and connection refused…
    Please give a solution to us

    July 20, 2018 at 10:48 PM
    • Sharath

      You can install Bonjour from Apple to automatically map your IP Address to hostname ‘raspberrypi.local’. So if your Pi is not configured with correct IP it will detect & map automatically. Link to Bonjour Service – https://support.apple.com/kb/DL999?locale=en_US

      You can use Advanced IP Scanner to check the Pi’s IP is assigned or not. Check Step 4 in the Headless Wi-Fi Blog to know how to use Advanced IP Scanner Blog Link – https://www.factoryforward.com/raspberry-pi-headless-wifi-setup/

      You can use the Headless Wi-Fi Method if you feel hard using this hardcode IP method. The Wi-Fi Method is easy and no need for any extra cables and also be accessed using your Android Phone also (with VNC Viewer App).

      Other Troubleshooting:

      1. Make sure the SSH file is still in the SD Card. Because sometimes it gets deleted if you are not able to connect via SSH on Pi and again put into PC.

      2. Make Sure In Step 5 all the text are in a single line (see picture) on cmdline.txt file. Use sublime text for easier identification.

      3. Wait for sometime to the Pi Boots up completely. Also, the connection refused error will happen mostly because of SSH File is missing. Check the filename should be only ‘ssh’ and without any filename like ‘ssh.txt’. Make note of the missing SSH file in 1st troubleshoot also.

      July 21, 2018 at 5:39 PM
  • Leo Claxton

    From step 9 and forward, is that happening on the raspberry or on the laptop ?

    August 22, 2018 at 4:33 PM
    • Sharath

      Everything happening until the Step 13 is on your Windows PC. At Step 14 only you can able to see your Raspberry Pi Desktop Screen.

      August 23, 2018 at 11:45 AM
  • saravanan

    step7 ssh file created in sd card.
    after put rpi network time out.
    then put sd card in laptop
    this ssh file not in sd card

    November 30, 2018 at 12:44 PM
    • Sharath

      For security purpose they did like that. You must have to add it again after boot (once successfully ssh, you don’t need to do again).

      Chances are there someone can add ssh file and access your pi without your knowledge. This is one of the reason for that. For this reason once boot up it shows warning to change username and password.

      November 30, 2018 at 4:51 PM
      • saravanan

        now connected

        thanks for your valuable information.

        November 30, 2018 at 6:25 PM
  • Sharath

    Guys, If you are using Pi with Wi-Fi, you can easily ssh with Wi-Fi – Check the tutorial here – https://www.factoryforward.com/raspberry-pi-headless-wifi-setup/

    November 30, 2018 at 4:55 PM
  • eyesjustly

    Thanks a lot sir. I was struggling, sharing this detailed procedure saved me. Good continuation !

    April 24, 2019 at 7:21 AM
  • shreyank sen

    thanks a lot bro….just to the point instructions…i was so confused at last my raspberry booted in a one go with your instructions.

    February 26, 2020 at 10:07 PM

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