Once you complete the initial installation guide for your Raspberry Pi, you can take a few steps to not only ensure you can access it over a command line via SSH, but through controlling the desktop GUI using VNC. We’ll need to complete a few steps to enable a few networking services to make this work property. Once up and running, you can use your Raspberry Pi for fun projects like linking your record player to your Sonos system.
Finding the Pi’s IP Address
The first step to configure a headless Raspberry Pi is to find it on your network. With the Pi plugged in and powered on, open up your router’s configuration app or webpage. We will need this to see a list of all connected devices, including the Raspberry Pi.
I use Google Wifi so I am able to access this directly from my iPad using the Google Home app. Opening the app, I can tab over to see a list of devices. Tapping on my Raspberry Pi and selecting info will show my IP address.
Reserving the Pi’s IP Address
From time to time, your router may refresh the addresses of the devices on your network to keep things moving smoothly. However, many networking features will require the IP address to stay static. We can reserve an IP address by telling your router not to change it.
At the time of writing, Google has not migrated this functionality to the Home app for their mesh router system, so I need to use the older (but still supported for now) app Google Wifi. Tapping Settings >> Network & General >> Advanced Networking >> DHCP IP Reservations allows me to add my Pi here and save it’s current IP address so it will not change in the future. Note: for Google Wifi users, this functionality should hopefully be added into the Google Home app, making this much easier soon.
Enabling SSH and VNC
If you followed our initial setup guide, you should have SSH enabled with the Pi’s password by default. If not, you can still enable this along with the VNC service that cannot be enabled by default.
SSH allows you to access your Pi remotely from a command line to make it easy to work with your Raspberry Pi remotely. VNC takes this a step further by recreating the full desktop experience from another device like an iPad or Mac. You can enable both of these by opening Terminal on your Raspberry Pi and typing:
This will open up a basic front-end GUI that allows you to edit basic functions of the Raspberry Pi and its system services that you can navigate using the arrow keys on the keyboard.
Navigate to Interfacing Options to enable both SSH and VNC.
Once enabled, use the right arrow key to navigate to the Finish option to exit the wizard. SSH and VNC are now ready to use.
Accessing Your Pi from SSH
With SSH enabled, you can use an iPad app like Termius to add the Pi as a new host. Entering the IP address, username and password should allow a new terminal connection to establish.
Accessing Your Pi from VNC
VNC applications can be setup in a similar way like SSH applications. With the IP address, username and password, you should have everything you need to use an iPad application like VNC or Screens.
There are a number of applications available to SSH or VNC into your Raspberry Pi from iPadOS. Click here for a list of my recommendations.