Raspberry Pi Zero and Raspberry Pi Zero W benefit from their sizes, but it is really awkward to work with. Fortunately, you can use a USB port to connect to your board without a keyboard or a screen.  This is great for all these projects where the network is not needed. So what if you need a headless client to set up a card? You can either do this via Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 and share the card or connect to the Raspberry Pi Zero, Raspberry Pi Zero W SSH USB – in 4 simple steps.

Raspberry Pi Zero, Raspberry Pi Zero W – SSH over USB in 4 simple steps

You will need:

  • Raspberry Pi Zero or Raspberry Pi Zero W – kinda obvious
  • Windows PC – with a Bonjour installed (it’s the first time I get to use this in my life – Linux people Avahi-Deamon will do it)
  • USB cable
  • SD-card and a reader
  • Putty on Windows or terminal on Linux

Step 1

Download the Raspbian image – full release or Lite – it works with both versions. Install Bonjour on your computer (or Avahi).

Step 2

Install the Raspbian image on the SD-card, and open it on the PC. You will need to open 2 files.

  • config.txt
    Add the following (new line):

  • cmdline.txt
    Add the following text after rootwait (leave a space, keep all in a single line):


Save both files. Create a new file and name it ssh (no extension) you will need this to enable ssh access. This file has to be created each time until you allow the SSH access in the Raspberry Pi config.

Step 3

Put the card in, plug the USB to the socket marked USB not PWR IN and power it up. Wait about 1-2 min – don’t  rush it the first time.

Step 4

Raspberry Pi Zero SSH USBOpen up Putty and connect to (make sure you have no other Raspberries connected via Ethernet – you will connect to these instead if you forget to power it off)


Enter the Raspberry Pi credentials:

  • Login (default): pi
  • Password (default): raspberry

and… You know how to connect Raspberry Pi Zero, Raspberry Pi Zero W  SSH USB! Now that you have the access to to the Raspberry Pi Zero W, you can take a look at this guide to set up the network permanently.

You are welcome!