Get the basics for setting up Raspberry Pi.

It's PI day — 3/14 if you want to get fancy! — and so we're going to bring you everything you need to know about using Raspberry Pi in an Apple-centric environment. We'll be releasing a new article every hour, on the hour, and collecting them all below for your convenience. In the meantime, here's how to get started! — Ed.

The Raspberry Pi is a mini computer that was specifically created to make tech learning easier. It has a lot of components for computer-based projects, like USB ports, an ethernet port, an SD card slot, Wi-Fi antenna ports, and more.

It does not come with peripherals, like cables, a keyboard, a mouse, or a monitor. It is a great for learning program languages, like Python, Scratch, and Wolfram. Most Raspberry Pi enthusiasts like making single-process builds to show off their do-it-yourself talents.

For example, you could create a dedicated gaming device, or an external storage box for movies and music. There are a plethora of Raspberry Pi Projects that cover all manner of possibilities, each one with different specifications. We have a guide for getting started with Raspberry Pi to help you understand what you will need for your first (or next) project.

What you will need

The Raspberry Pi ships as just the single-board mini computer. There are a few additional components you will need before you can get started. So, when making your purchase, keep in mind that you'll need the following extras.

  1. Raspberry Pi — There are four different models of Raspberry Pi. The Pi 2 Model B or Pi 1 Model B+ are ideal for beginner projects because they are the most versatile and have the widest range of capabilities. The Pi 2 Model B has the added bonus of having a quad-core processor and 1 GB of RAM so it supports heavier operating systems, like Ubuntu and Microsoft 10.
  2. Power supply — You will need a 5V micro-USB power supply. You can find them for really cheap online. You may even have one from a non-apple mobile device lying around the house. I recommend the CanaKit 5V power supply.
  3. USB keyboard
  4. USB mouse — If you prefer to use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, you could just get a Bluetooth adapter. I have a Kinivo BTD-400, but there are dozens of different brands out there.
  5. microSD card — The microSD card must have at least 8 GB of storage. You can purchase one that comes pre-loaded with Raspberry Pi's New Out of Box Software (NOOBS), but you can also download the software for free from the website, so there is no need to purchase a special NOOBS microSD card.
  6. microSD USB card reader — You'll need something that you can connect the microSD card to your PC or Mac in order to download software onto it. Adafruit carries one that is perfect for Raspberry Pi, but you can pick one up at just about any electronics or office supply store.
  7. A monitor or TV that supports HDMI or composite video — You can use an older composite video display, but HDMI works better and supports audio transfers.
  8. An HDMI cable or composite video cable, depending on what the screen you use supports
  9. An ethernet cable (or Wi-Fi dongle) — A connection to the Internet is not required for setup, but many Raspberry Pi projects use them.

What you need

How to reformat your microSD card

The first step to getting started with Raspberry Pi is to reformat the microSD card that you will use to download the operating system. Even brand new SD cards will have some extraneous files on them. Reformatting it will remove all files and completely clear the card.

  1. Insert your microSD card into the USB card reader.

    microSD card reader

  2. Connect the card reader to your computer.
  3. Download SD Formatter 4.0.

    Download SDFormatter

  4. Double-click on SDFormatter_4.00B.pkg in your downloads folder in your Dock to install SD Formatter 4.0.

    Open SDFormatter installer

  5. Follow the instructions in the installation window.
  6. Click the Launchpad icon in your Dock. It looks like a silver rocket ship.


  7. Find the SD Formatter 4.0 app.
  8. To move between Launchpad windows, click the Next Page icons at the bottom center of the screen, or swipe to the right or left with your trackpad or Magic Mouse.
  9. Click on the SD Formatter 4.0 app to open it. A formatting window will appear on your desktop.

    Finding apps in Launchpad

  10. Under Select Card select your microSD card from the dropdown menu.
  11. Click Format in the bottom right corner.

    Setting up SDFormatter

When the reformat is complete, you will get a notification window. Select OK to close the window.

How to download NOOBS onto the microSD card

The next step is to get NOOBS onto the microSD card. Once it's loaded, you can plug it into your Raspberry Pi and configure the operating system. The microSD card should already be connected to your computer at this time.

  1. Download the ZIP file of NOOBS Verson 1.7.0. It is a large file and will take a while to complete. You will want Raspbian, so do not download NOOBS Lite.

    Download NOOBS

  2. Double-click on the NOOBS file from the Downloads folder in your Dock to open it.

    Open NOOBS file

  3. Select the first file inside the NOOBS folder.
  4. Scroll down and Shift + left-click on the last file in the NOOBS folder.
  5. Drag and drop all selected NOOBS files into the SD card icon on your desktop. You don't have to open the SD card drive.

    Dragging NOOBS files to SD card

  6. Right-click on the SD card icon.
  7. Select "Eject [SD Card Name]".

    Ejecting SD card

  8. Remove the card reader from your computer.
  9. Remove the microSD card from the card reader.

How to set up your Raspberry Pi

  1. Insert the microSD card into the card slot on the underside of the Raspberry Pi.

    Inserting the microSD card into Raspberry Pi

  2. Plug the USB keyboard into one of the USB ports.
  3. Plug the USB mouse into one of the USB ports

    Alternatively, connect the Bluetooth adapter into one of the USB ports.

    Keyboard and mouse connected

  4. Turn on your monitor or TV set and make sure it is set to the proper input (e.g. HDMI 1 or Component)
  5. Plug the HDMI or video component cable into the monitor or TV set.
  6. Connect the other end of the cable into the Raspberry Pi.

    Connecting the HDMI cable to Raspberry Pi

  7. Connect an ethernet cable to your router if you plan to connect to the Internet.
  8. Connect the other end of the cable to your Raspberry Pi.

    Alternately, connect the Wi-Fi adapter to the Raspberry Pi.

    Connecting ethernet cable to Raspberry Pi

  9. Connect the power supply to the Raspberry Pi.
  10. Plug the power supply into the power outlet. This will turn on and boot up Raspberry Pi.

    A power indicator light will begin to glow, letting you know that you are connected,

    Power indicator on Raspberry Pi

How to download the Raspbian operating system on the Raspberry Pi

Beginners should start off using the Raspbian operating system. It it the easiest to use and there are hundreds of projects out there that use the Raspbian operating system. If you want to use a different operating system later on, you can reconfigure your Raspberry Pi then.

Once you have successfully followed the steps above, a start screen will appear on your monitor or TV.

  1. Select Raspbian.
  2. Click Install.

    Installing Raspbian

  3. When the warning window pops up. Click Yes to confirm. This is just letting you know that the microSD card will be overwritten with an uncompressed version of the Raspbian operating system.
  4. Wait for the installation process to complete.

    Raspberry Pi warning

Once the installation process is finished, Raspbian will automatically begin to boot.

How to configure your Raspberry Pi

When Raspbian begins to load a bunch of lines of code will appear. This will continue until the boot process has completed. Then, the Raspbian Home screen will appear. You will need to configure your Raspberry Pi system in order to add your location, date, and time.

  1. Click Menu in the upper left corner of the screen.

    Selecting Menu

  2. Select Preferences in the dropdown menu.

    Selecting Preferences

  3. Select Raspberry Pi Configuration under Preferences.

    Selecting reconfig in Raspberry Pi

  4. When the configuration window appears, click on the Localisation tab.
  5. Click on Set Locale… to set your location.
  6. Click on Set timezone… to set your local time.
  7. Click on Set Keyboard… to set your keyboard language.

    Setting Localization for Raspberry Pi

  8. Reconfiguring your Raspberry Pi will require a reboot. When the reboot window appears, click Yes to continue.

    Rebooting Raspberry Pi

You are set up and ready to start using Raspberry Pi. The mini computing world is your oyster. The only question now is, what project will you build?