Raspberry Pi - OS Disk Imaging

There are 2 methods to get your operating system image onto your SD card.
  1. The NOOBS  (New Out Of Box Software) method is easier to do compared to the 'raw' image method.
  2. The 'raw' image method is similar to making a bootable CD or USB drive........ Not hard to do just not familiar to the majority of computer users.
Both methods are outlined below.

Note: The current version of NOOBS (~704MB) has only the recommended Raspbian image included. If you want other OS in addition, then the RPi must be connected to network with Internet access during installation.
There is also a light version of NOOBS (~20MB) which requires network / Internet access for the entire process.

NOOBS is not an operating system. It is only a OS installer and recovery tool.

NOOBS advantages:
NOOBS disadvantages:

NOOBS Image Method
(Note a 8GB+ SD card is required for NOOBS).
  1. Download the NOOBS image (zip file) from: the Download page of the RPi main web site (~704MB).
  2. Download and install the SD Card  formatter tool from here: SD Formatter
  3. Format your SD card with the format tool.  All contents of the card if any will be lost. Backup anything you need from the card before formatting!
    When done the entire card will be formatted as a single FAT32 partition.  If not try formatting again with the size adjust option on.
  4. Unzip the NOOBS image file to the SD card. See below *
  5. Boot the SD card in the RPi.
I recommend to choose Raspbian image to install and try first. It's the most supported image and is best for beginners.

* Do not copy the unzipped NOOBS file to the SD card. You must take steps to properly unzip the files either directly to the SD card OR to a folder on your hard disk where they can later be copied to your SD card.
Note The boot files must end up in the root of the SD card. You should be OK if you unzipped directly from the zip file to the SD card.

 For Windows -  Unzipping directly to the SD card:
  1. Go to the directory with the downloaded zip file
  2. Right click on the file and choose [Extract All..]
  3. Set destination to the drive letter of the SD Card and click OK.
When done correctly the root of the SD card should now look like this:
(NOOBS Version 1.3.10 shown here)
Noobs root tree
If the files were unzipped to your hard disk then be sure to copy the files and not the subdirectory the files are stored in. For example if your NOOBS files are stored in C:/temp/ then don't drag the temp folder to the SD card....... Instead open the temp folder and drag or copy the contents of temp to the SD card.
The SD card is now ready to boot in your RPi.

'Raw' Image Method
Disk Imaging via "Windows" Computer:
    1. Download image from here:
      (File size is ~ 934 MB for Raspbian)
    2. Right click on the file and select [extract all..] Extract to any folder on your computer and note where the file is located.
      Important! You must take steps to actually extract the file and not just view the contents of the zip file. The extracted file will have a .IMG extension.
    3. Download the latest disk image software from here:  http://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/
      Be sure to get the binary file: win32diskimager-binary.zip   You do not need the source file.
    4.  Extract all the files to a new folder and note where the files/folder is located. If you wish you can create a shortcut to theWin32DiskImager.exe file. Right click and drag the exe to your desktop or wherever you want the shortcut.  Select create shortcut here. Note do not actually move the exe file out of the folder. All files must remain together. The shortcut can be anywhere.
    5. Insert a SD card into your card reader and note the drive letter assigned. The imaging process will erase the card and ALL EXISTING CONTENTS OF YOUR CARD WILL BE LOST. If you need anything from the card then copy it off now.
    6. Click on the shortcut from step 4 OR go to the folder where you extracted the Disk Imager software and click on the Win32DiskImager.exe file.
    7. If what looks like a fatal error message pops up just ignore it click OK and continue.
    8. In the [Device] box at top right select the drive letter of the SD card from step 5 above if not already indicated.
    9. Click the [search button] to the right of the [Image File] box and 'drill down' until you locate the extracted image file from step 2 above. (Do not select the .ZIP file)
    10. Click the [Write] button. This will take several minutes to complete.
    11. The card is now ready to be used in your RPi.
If done properly the SD card will have a small partition visible to the Windows system.
The directory will be similar to this; (Raspbian OS shown):
Rasspian Boot Partition
Note the main Linux partition with the Raspbian OS (or other OS) will not be visible in the Windows computer.