At $35, the Raspberry Pi is a fantastic little computer, but when you add in the cost of a display, mouse, and keyboard, things get a little more expensive. Good thing you don’t really need them. With VNC, you can access your Pi from a laptop or desktop computer using the same mouse, keyboard, and display that you always do, no rewiring required.
Step One: Download VNC Viewer on Your Windows or Mac Computer
You have a lot of different options for VNC software, but we’ve found that VNC Viewer is the easiest to use that works well with the Raspberry Pi. From your PC or Mac (and iPhone or Android, for that matter), head to RealVNC’s VNC Viewer, click the Download button for your operating system, then download the free application.
Step Two: Start VNC Server Using SSH or Terminal
VNC Server is included with the newest version of Raspbian, PIXEL, so all we need to do here is start up a server. If you’re using an older version of Raspbian or a different operating system altogether, this guide by the Raspberry Pi Foundation shows you how to download and install it.
We’re assuming that you want to set up VNC because you don’t have access to an extra display, mouse, and keyboard. So, the best way to do so is to use Secure Shell (SSH). SSH allows you to control your Raspberry Pi using the command line from any computer. You’ll need to do this to start the VNC Server for the first time.
- Power up your Raspberry Pi and plug it into your router with an ethernet cable.
- Download and install Adafruit’s Pi Finder for your operating system. When it’s done downloading, launch the app and click the “Find My Pi” button.
- Pi Finder will search for the Raspberry Pi on your network. Let it do its thing. Eventually, it’ll show your Raspberry Pi’s IP address. Make sure the user is set to
piand the password is set to
raspberry(assuming you haven’t changed these from the default, that is, otherwise enter your own credentials), then click the Terminal button.
- This logs you into the Raspberry Pi’s command line, where you can start up the VNC Server that comes packed with your Pi. In the command line prompt, type in:
vncserverand press Enter. This runs a command and starts the VNC server on the Raspberry Pi. At the end of the command you’ll see a note similar to the one in the image above that says, “New desktop is
raspberrypi:1” followed by a number that includes the Pi’s IP address, like (
192.168.0.19:1). Make a note of this number, you’ll need it to log into the VNC server from your PC.
Now that the VNC server is running, you can log into it from your other computer.