This guide shows how to bring up a Raspberry Pi Zero, Zero W, or Zero 2 W without needing to attach a keyboard/mouse/monitor. For older Pi OS releases, basic settings can be configured by editing text files directly on the SD card using an editor on your main PC prior to first boot. For newer Pi OS releases, the rpi-imager tool can be used to both burn the OS image and configure settings.

In this guide the term "Pi Zero" will be used for all the Pi Zero models.

Suggested Items

If you need to troubleshoot for any reason, this item is your best friend. For $10, it makes working with a headless Pi Zero so much easier. It's also included with a lot of the kits.

USB console cable.


Don't leave home without it.

This is a slightly fancier option specifically made for the Pi. It has the convenience of allowing you to use a standard micro USB cable. It was mainly designed for attaching to male headers, so if you've soldered on something different you'll have to find some way to jumper it.

Of course you'll also need an SD card for the operating system, a Pi Zero (plus WiFi adapter) or Zero W, and some form of header pins to access the GPIO.

But I Want To Connect A Keyboard/Mouse/Monitor

That's fine but not covered in this guide. Troubleshooting HDMI issues, configuring display settings, and dealing with possible HDMI and/or USB cable and/or power problems are worth a separate guide.

Other Pi Models

This guide is targeted for the Pi Zero and Zero W as those models are more difficult to attach a keyboard / mouse / and monitor to. However, these setup instructions should also work on any Pi with WiFi. It has been tested to work with:

  • Pi 3 Model B
  • Pi 3 Model B+
  • Pi 3 Model A+
  • Pi 4 Model B

This guide was first published on May 17, 2017. It was last updated on Oct 20, 2023.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Oct 20, 2023.

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