Connecting to a Raspberry Pi Remotely

VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is a connection protocol technology that’s used to remotely control one computer from another. With VNC set up, you can use your Raspberry Pi from your Mac or PC.

Remote Control

The Raspberry Pi is easy to set up and use in projects around the home and, surprisingly, many of these projects don’t need a keyboard, mouse or a monitor; these are known as Headless devices. VNC lets you control a Headless Pi from another computer.

Step 1 – You will first need to ensure that your Pi is connected to a keyboard, mouse and monitor, and is connected to your Wi-Fi router, before you attempt to connect to it remotely. Start by clicking on the Raspberry Pi menu, then scroll down to Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration.

Step 2 – With the Raspberry Pi Configuration window open, click on the Interfaces tab, and ensure that the VNC option is Enabled. Click on the radio button next to Enabled to activate, then click on the OK button to close the window.

Step 3 – In the upper right corner of the menu bar you’ll notice a VNC icon (next to the Bluetooth icon). This is the built-in VNC server, click the icon in the menu bar once to open the VNC Server window.

Step 4 – Make a note of the IP Address of the Raspberry Pi as detailed in the left-hand section of the VNC Server window; our example is 192.168.1.244. Now click on the three horizontal lines in the top right of the VNC Server window. From the sub-menu that appears, click on the Options entry. This will open a new window pop-up.

Step 5 – With the Security option highlighted on the left, ensure that the Encryption option, to the right, is set to Prefer On, and that Authentication is VNC Password. This may ask you to enter a password, which you will use when connecting remotely from another computer. Enter a password you’ll remember.

Step 6 – While still in the Options window, click on Connections in the left hand pane. In the right hand pane, ensure that the Allow Direct VNC Connections Over TCP is ticked, and that the Port is set to 5900. It usually is, but sometimes it can be unticked if an update to software has been applied.

Remote Viewing

The Pi-side of things has now been set up. Just remember the Pi’s IP address, and get to your PC or Mac for this next part.

Step 1 – Reboot the Pi, then disconnect the keyboard, mouse and monitor; but keep the power connected. From your PC or Mac, open a browser and navigate to: https://www.realvnc.com/en/connect/download/viewer/. Choose your operating system and click the Download VNC Viewer app.

Step 2 – Follow the on-screen instruction to install VNC Viewer on your system, when it’s finished, launch the app and choose whether you want to send anonymous data. In the main VNC Viewer window, enter the IP Address of the Raspberry Pi; ours was 192.168.1.244. Hit Enter when you’ve typed in the IP address.

Step 3 – In the new pop-up window, enter the password you created through the Raspberry Pi’s VNC Server options page. You can choose to Remember Password if you want, but if the computer you’re using is shared, you can always opt to leave the option unticked. Click OK when ready.

Step 4 – You may be asked to confirm connection to a remote computer, click Continue to make the connection. You are now connected remotely to your Raspberry Pi. As long as the Pi is powered up, and has access to the Wi-Fi signal of the router, then you can place it anywhere and get access without using a mouse, keyboard, or monitor.

Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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