Headless Raspberry Pi 3 B+ SSH Wifi Setup (Mac + Windows)

rpi3bplus-feature

This article covers setting up the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ for headless SSH access over WiFi using a Mac or Windows 10.

If you would like to setup a headless Pi Zero W, see: Headless Pi Zero W Setup.

If you have an older Pi Zero 1.3, see my article Setup Pi Zero Wifi.

Step 1. Download a lite Raspbian image

These instructions are for a Raspbian Stretch image that I downloaded from here:

https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/

I'm using the lite image (no desktop) version 4.9 from March 13, 2018.

Step 2. Burn the Raspbian image to the SD card

pi-sd-burn-etcher

To burn an image to the SD card you can use Etcher.

  • Browse to https://etcher.io
  • Download the version for your operating system
  • Run the installer

To run Etcher is pretty straight forward.

Put a blank mini SD card and adapter into your machine. No need to format it. You can use a new SD card right out of the package.

  1. Select image - browse to the zip file you downloaded from Raspbian
  2. Select drive - it may find the SDHC Card automatically
  3. Click Flash!

After you flash (burn) the image, Finder (Mac) or File Explorer (Windows) may have trouble seeing it. A simple fix is to pull the SD card out then plug it back in. On a Mac it should appear on the desktop with the name boot. On Windows it should appear in File Explorer with the name boot followed by a drive letter.

Step 3. Enable ssh

For security reasons, ssh is no longer enabled by default. To enable it you need to place an empty filed named ssh (no extension) in the root of the boot disk.


Mac instructions (enable ssh)

Open up a terminal window and run this command:

touch /Volumes/boot/ssh

Windows instructions (ssh)
  • Run Notepad
  • In a new file put in one space and nothing more
  • Click File / Save As ...
  • Be sure to set Save as type to All Files (so the file is NOT saved with a .txt extension)
  • Call the file ssh and save it
  • Close the file

If you are comfortable with the Windows command line you could try this instead (untested!):

  1. Open up a command line
  2. Switch to the drive and root where boot is located:
  3. Type: type NUL >> ssh
  4. Verify that file ssh was created

Step 4. Add network info

Create a file in the root of boot called: wpa_supplicant.conf (instructions below). Then paste the following into it (adjusting for the name of your country code, network name and network password):

country=US
ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
update_config=1

network={
    ssid="NETWORK-NAME"
    psk="NETWORK-PASSWORD"
}

Mac instructions (wifi settings)

Create a new empty file that will hold network info:

touch /Volumes/boot/wpa_supplicant.conf

Edit the file that you just created and paste the text above into it (adjusting for the name of your country code, network name and network password):


Windows instructions (wifi settings)
  1. Run Notepad
  2. Paste in the contents above (adjusting for the name of your country code, network name and network password)
  3. Click File / Save As ...
  4. Be sure to set Save as type to All Files (so the file is NOT saved with a .txt extension)
  5. Call the file wpa_supplicant.conf and save it
  6. Close the file

Step 5. Eject the micro SD card

  • Right-click on boot (on your desktop or File Explorer) and select the Eject option
  • This is a "logical" eject - meaning it closes files and preps the SD card for removal - you still have to pull the card out yourself

Step 6. Boot the Raspberry Pi

  • Remove the mini-SD card from the adapter and plug it into the Raspberry Pi
  • Plug a Micro-USB power cable into the power port
  • Give the Pi plenty of time to boot up (it can take as much as 90 seconds -- or more)

Step 7. Login over Wifi

This part assumes that ssh is enabled for your image and that the default user is pi with a password of raspberry.

NOTE: Your machine must be on the same WiFi network that you configured the Pi for.


Mac instructions (login over wifi)
  • Open up a terminal window
  • Run the following commands:

    ssh-keygen -R raspberrypi.local
    ssh pi@raspberrypi.local
  • Don't worry if you get a host not found error for the first command - the idea is to clear out any previous references to raspberrypi.local
  • If the pi won't respond, press Ctrl-C and try the last command again
  • If prompted with a warning just hit enter to accept the default (Yes)
  • Type in the password -- by default this is raspberry

Windows instructions (login over wifi)

Install Bonjour

You can find Raspberry Pi's on your network using their hostname followed by .local (example: raspberrypi.local). But to do that in Windows you have to install the Bonjour service first.

If you have iTunes installed on Windows you probably don't have to do this. But if you don't, browse to:

Download Bonjour Print Services for Windows v2.0.2 and run the installer.

Install Putty

If you already have Putty installed, skip to the next section.

  • Browse to: https://www.putty.org
  • Download the 64-bit MSI (Windows Installer)
  • Open it to run the installer (if asked for permission, click Yes)
  • Select: Add shortcut to PuTTY on the Desktop

Login over WiFi using Putty

This part assumes that ssh is enabled for your image and that the default user is pi with a password of raspberry.

  1. Launch Putty
  2. Set the Host Name (or IP address) field to raspberrypi.local
  3. By default the Port should be set to 22 and Connection type should be set to SSH
  4. Click Open
  5. If you see a Security Alert select Yes
  6. A new terminal window should appear prompting you for a user name
  7. The default user name is: pi
  8. The default password is: raspberry

Step 8. Change your Hostname and Password

Congratulations! You can now access your Raspberry Pi over wifi!

If you can't connect, see the troubleshooting section near the end of this article. You may need to make some adjustments for your network.

Because your pi is now on the network, you should immediately change the hostname and password.

At the Pi command line type:

sudo raspi-config

Select the options for changing the hostname and password. On a new image, I would also recommend expanding the file system (now under the Advanced options). Once the changes are made, reboot.

Remember that once you reboot, you will need to use the new hostname to login over ssh. For example, if your new hostname is mypi you would connect like this on a Mac:

ssh pi@mypi.local

On Windows you would need to change the host name in Putty to mypi.local.

Step 9. Get the updates

Once connected over WiFi, the next thing you should do is run some updates:

sudo apt-get update -y
sudo apt-get upgrade -y

Troubleshooting

Here are some helpful commands for debugging network and wifi issues on your Pi:

  • This command should list your network in the first line for wlan0:
    iwconfig
  • This command should show info for wlan0:
    ifconfig
  • This command should list your network name:
    iwlist wlan0 scan | grep ESSID
  • To edit or review your wifi settings, run this command:
    sudo nano /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf

References

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