3 simple Ways to Edit the boot/config.txt File on Raspberry Pi. Sometimes fixing a Raspberry Pi involves editing the boot/config.txt file. Here’s everything you need to know about doing that. (Similar post – Which Raspberry Pi Should You Buy For Your Project?)
You’re in the middle of a Raspberry Pi project when suddenly you realize there’s something wrong: fixing it means editing the config.txt file, which is found in the /boot directory. (Similar post – How To Install TPM 2.0 Module On Windows PC For Windows 11)
But what is the easiest way to access this file while the Raspberry Pi is still running? And if you must shut down to retrieve the microSD card, how should you edit it? Here’s everything you need to know about how to edit the Raspberry Pi config.txt file.
What are the ways to edit the boot/config.txt file on Raspberry Pi?
1. Access config.txt From Within Raspberry Pi OS
If you need to edit the config.txt file while Raspberry Pi OS is running, you should be able to browse to it. You’ll find the /boot folder in the root directory of the microSD card. Once you’ve found the config.txt file, simply double-click to open, it and edit it in your default text editor.
However, if you’re planning to edit the file, it’s a good idea to retain the original. Note that you can’t make a copy of the file using the desktop File Manager, as this requires root user privileges. Instead, you need to open a Terminal and create a copy using:
sudo cp /boot/config.txt /boot/backupconfig.txt
Give your copy a meaningful name. Note that when editing the config.txt file, no changes will be applied until you reboot your Raspberry Pi.
2. Edit config.txt on Raspberry Pi Remotely
Rarely connect a keyboard and monitor to your Raspberry Pi? If the computer is on the network, here’s how to edit config.txt on the Raspberry Pi remotely. Do this by connecting via SSH (or VNC or RDP) and entering
sudo nano /boot/config.txt
Alternatively, first, browse to the /boot directory.
Once the changes have been made, press Ctrl + X and then Y to save and exit. Remember to reboot your Raspberry Pi after making changes.
3. How to Edit config.txt on Your PC
Linux, Windows, and macOS computers should be able to access the config.txt file via the microSD card. This means shutting down your Raspberry Pi (safely, to avoid data corruption) and ejecting the SD card. Insert it into your computer’s card reader to check the contents.
Edit config.txt on Linux PC
If you need to edit the config.txt file on a Linux PC, find the disk listed in your default file manager when inserted. It should be listed as two devices: the main volume (typically “1.8GB Volume” as per the size of the default Raspberry Pi OS partition), and boot.
As you might have guessed, this is the volume you need to access. It is essentially the /boot directory mounted as a drive. Open this to find config.txt. Save any changes you make in your default text editor, then use the Eject button in the file manager to safely eject the SD card.
Edit config.txt on Windows 10 or Windows 11
Inserting the Raspberry Pi’s SD card on a Windows computer should result in it being instantly mounted, and accessible via Windows Explorer. However, while two partitions will be displayed on the device, only one, boot, will be accessible in Windows.
Select this, then find config.txt. Use the default Notepad text editor to make edits (or an alternative, such as Notepad++), then save and exit when you’re done.
To safely eject the SD card, right-click the drive in My Computer, and select Eject.
Edit config.txt on macOS
If you’re using a Mac, you can also edit the boot config file for your Raspberry Pi.
After inserting the SD card, use the Finder to browse the contents, looking for config.txt (or config, without the .txt file extension). Read and edit the file in the TextEdit app, ensuring that any changes you make are saved when you exit. To eject the card, drag the desktop icon to the Trash, or right-click it and select Eject.
Whichever method you use to edit the config.txt from the microSD card reader on your PC, remember to safely eject the device before returning it to your Raspberry Pi.
Why You Need config.txt on Raspberry Pi
Formerly known as Raspbian, the default Raspberry Pi OS operating system (and most of the alternatives) relies on some configuration parameters that are read when the computer boots from the microSD card. These are stored in the config.txt document.
What is the location of the Raspberry Pi’s config.txt file? You’ll find it in the /boot folder.
Such instructions might adjust the way the display is detected, and the desktop displayed; config.txt can even be used to overclock your Raspberry Pi (or return it to the default clock settings).
Both of these settings are logged in config.txt as neither can be changed on a running Raspberry Pi. If the display isn’t detected, you cannot alter any desktop settings. The solution is to edit the Raspberry Pi’s config.txt file.
Similarly, if the Pi has been overclocked and won’t boot, or repeatedly restarts, you won’t be able to access the raspi-config utility to reset it. Instead, config.txt is provided to give you the option of resetting your Raspberry Pi’s clock speed.
Tweaking Your Raspberry Pi Even Further
Editing the Raspberry Pi config.txt file is just one of several ways to edit the computer’s general configuration. It’s one of the best ways to hack your Raspberry Pi via the boot partition. You’re probably already aware of the raspi-config utility, accessed via the Terminal. There’s even a desktop-based Raspberry Pi Configuration Tool, found in the Preferences menu in Raspberry Pi OS.
Tweaking the Pi’s configuration can save a lot of time if you get it right. But you don’t have to edit the config.txt file on the Raspberry Pi after you’ve set it up. Why not save time and access the advanced options menu in Raspberry Pi Imager. Here, you can tweak options such as setting the hostname, enabling SSH, and configuring Wi-Fi, before you even install the operating system!