Before you create any Raspberry Pi project, you need the right tools. This includes software, so below is my Raspberry Pi Project Essentials guide and, in my opinion, are the must-haves before doing anything else. Do you agree with my list? Why not add your thoughts in the comments below.

Raspberry Pi Project Essentials

Whether you are a NOOB or a pro Raspberry Pi-er, you will no doubt need the following essential pieces of software:

SD Formatter:

  • The name kinda gives this one away, but use this to format and prepare your SD cards
  • Downloads page is available here.

Win32 Disk Imager:

  • Windows based tool to “burn” images onto your SD card
  • Can also backup your SD cards to image files – definitely worth doing every now and then in case things go wrong!
  • Downloads page is available here.


  • Windows based tool to SSH into your Raspberry Pi once it is up and running (and once SSH has been enabled)
  • Useful for command line input
  • Downloads page is available here.


  • Windows based SSH and file browser tool – similar to PuTTY (in fact can use PuTTY with WinSCP) but also allows accessing the file system on your Raspberry Pi with an easy to use drag-and-drop interface
  • Downloads page is available here.


  • An enhanced version of Notepad (Windows), but helps preserve the layouts used on the Raspberry Pi (such as when using Nano)
  • Visually easier to use when editing files on your Raspberry Pi (from your Windows computer)
  • Downloads page is available here.

I also use the following tools in addition to the above. They are not essential, but useful:


  • Not technically essential on the Raspberry Pi, but if like me you use Win32 Disk Imager to make backups of your SD cards from time to time, it is worth archiving them with 7-Zip to compress the image and save up to 4GB in space on your system
  • Compressing an .img file of your SD card using the highest compression method available can take some time, but if you have limited space on your HDD then this can really help!
  • Downloads page is available here.

DiskInternals Linux Reader:

  • You can mount SD card images into this programme and recover or even edit specific files before burning them to SD card
  • Useful if you want to pre-configure network settings / wifi etc. before you burn the image to your SD card when you want to run your Raspberry Pi in a headless setup
  • For example on Raspbian, network IP addresses are defined by DHCP but you may want a static address. You could download the fresh Raspbian image, mount in DiskInternals Linux Reader, edit the required file, save then burn (using Win32 Disk Imager) to your SD card and away you go!
  • Downloads page is available here.

There are plenty more tools available I’m sure (i.e. Mac / Linux users), but from my experience as a Windows user these are my Raspberry Pi Project Essentials.

Feel free to suggest more!