Install Raspberry Pi headless on OS X

There are already a couple of guides on installing a Raspberry Pi headless on OS X but non of them worked 100% for me, so here is what I found out and how I did it.

How to install Raspberry Pi headless on OS X

What you need:

  • Raspberry Pi (I have the Pi 3 Model B) with Ethernet and power cables
  • A micro SD card (I believe 8GB is the minimum suggested size)
  • A micro SD to SD adapter or micro SD to USB adapter
  • A computer running OS X

Step by Step

Getting Raspbian on your micro SD card

Connecting and starting your Raspberry

  • Insert the micro SD card into your Raspberry
  • Connect the Ethernet cable to your router and Raspberry
  • Connect the power cable and plug it in
  • Download Pi Finder (
  • Launch Pi Finder and wait for it to give you the Raspberry’s IP address (let’s assume for the rest of this post that it’s
  • Open Terminal on OS X and execute
  • $ ssh pi@
    pi@'s password: raspberry

Installing and updating

  • Still while connected to the Raspberry
  • $ sudo raspi-config
  • You will get a couple of options. Select the first one “expand Filesystem” so that the Raspberry can have access to the whole space on the micro SD card. Select “Finish” and reboot the Raspberry.
  • Reconnect with ssh (if it doesn’t work the IP address of the Raspberry might have changed so just relaunch Pi Finder)
  • Update the Raspberry’s software
  • $ sudo apt-get update
  • Let it finish, then do
  • $ sudo apt-get upgrade

Installing VNC

  • While still connect to the Raspberry execute
  • $ sudo apt-get install tightvncserver
  • Once it’s install launch it and create a new session
  • $ tightvncserver
  • This will ask you to input a (8 character maximum) password and an option view-only password
  • $ vncserver :1 -geometry 1920x1080 -depth 24
  • I have found that creating a VNC session in OS X from the “connect to server” menu doesn’t work on OS X El Capitan.
  • Download RealVNC (
  • Install the VNC Viewer from RealVNC (you don’t need the VNC Server)
  • Open VNC Viewer and input (the IP and port :1 of the Raspberry)
  • You should get the Raspberry’s GUI on your Mac. Have fun!

If you have any difficulties or comments on the steps above don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I’ll try to help you out.


2 Replies to “Install Raspberry Pi headless on OS X”

  1. How do you run sudo raspy-config when it can’t find it. The other stuff after that in you list above runs fine.

    1. Hi, The Pi Finder app I mention should be able to find your Raspberry and give you its IP address so that you can connect to it. Did you manage to find the IP? I didn’t install a new Raspberry in a while so will have to check if that doesn’t work anymore.

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