There are many ways to install the Raspberry Pi OS (formerly named Raspbian) on to your MicroSD card, but perhaps the best way in my experience is to do so using Balena Etcher. Etcher is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, and following a three-step process, easily loads the operating system within 5 and 15 minutes.
These instructions are the same for both the desktop (full) version and the lite version (no desktop environment). As this is written for a beginner, we downloaded the full image with the desktop environment for ease of use.
Here are the steps you need to follow in order to perform the installation:
- Download the installer from balena.io and install to your main computer.
- Run balenaEtcher and select the unzipped Raspberry Pi OS image file
- Select the MicroSD Card – Be very careful to select the right drive!!! Selecting the wrong drive could be catastrophic.
- Finally, click FLASH! to write the Raspberry Pi OS image to the SD card
- You’ll see a progress bar. Once complete, the utility will automatically unmount the SD card so it’s safe to remove it from your computer.
The first thing after downloading the Raspberry Pi OS image that you will need to do is to unzip the file and place the OS image file on your computer. You cannot select the zip file from BalenaEtcher. Select the image file from the “Flash from File” button
Next, you want to select the drive to place the Raspberry Pi OS image on. Make sure to select the correct drive for the MicroSD card! If you select the wrong one, Etcher will wipe out all the data on the selected drive. If you happen to select your main hard drive with the operating system, Balena may wipe it out. Becareful and go slow here to make sure you don’t make mistakes!
Finally, click the FLASH! button to flash the image on to the Micro SD card.
The process takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. If you use high quality, high speed cards made for 4K video, the installation will go a lot quicker, and when running in your Raspberry Pi, will be faster.
Let it run until you see this:
Congratulations! You’ve just flashed the Raspberry Pi OS image on to a MicroSD card.
There are a couple things to consider at this point.
If you plan to hook up a mouse and keyboard to your Raspberry Pi and use it as a desktop computer you can eject the card and insert it into the Raspberry Pi now. You will be able to connect to your Wi-Fi through the desktop interface after the Pi boots up. This is probably the easiest way to get connected to your Wi-Fi network for a beginner.
If you would like to setup a connection to your Wi-Fi network before you insert the card in the Raspberry Pi, you will have to follow this tutorial on Setting Up Wi-Fi on a MicroSD card for use in your Raspberry Pi.
MagPi Video Tutorial
Since I’m no good at videos (my YT channel had 3 subscribers after two years. LOL) here’s MagPi’s official install video
Shawn is a Digital Marketing Specialist and Raspberry Pi affectionado.