disable status led raspberry pi

How To Easily Disable Status LEDs On Raspberry Pi

Most Raspberry Pi models come with 4 built-in status LEDs: power, activity, and two on the RJ45 port. If you keep a Raspberry Pi in your bedroom, or even on your desk, it can be pretty distracting. In this short tutorial, I’ll show you how to get rid of the LEDs (in the configuration obviously, I don’t want you to break them!).

The Raspberry Pi status LEDs’ activity can be easily disabled by adding the correct configuration lines in the /boot/config.txt file. This file is like the equivalent of the BIOS on traditional computers, all system parameters can be edited via this file.

Let’s see how to do it. I tried on my Raspberry Pi 4 with Raspberry Pi OS. It might be slightly different on older models, and some don’t have a network adapter, but basically, the procedure is similar for most models.

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How to disable the status LEDs on Raspberry Pi

I will get straight to the point and give you the instructions to disable each LED directly.

If you need more guidance to understand what these LEDs are and how to follow the instructions, please scroll to the “Related Questions” section at the end of this article, where I explain every step in more detail.

Disable the power LED (red)

On a Raspberry Pi, the red LED is attached to the PWR component of the Pi. This indicates whether your Pi is receiving enough power or not.

Typically when the Raspberry Pi is powered on, the red light is on all the time.

You can disable the red light by following these steps:

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  • Open /boot/config.txt:
    sudo nano /boot/config.txt
    If you are not used to this editor, you can check my article about Nano here.
  • Go to the end of the file.
  • Add this line:
    dtparam=pwr_led_activelow=off
  • Restart the Raspberry Pi to apply the changes:
    sudo reboot
    You can follow the next paragraphs before rebooting if you want to disable all LEDs.

The power LED will still light on boot (so you can still see if the Pi is powered correctly), but will quickly be turned off when the system starts.

Are you a bit lost in the Linux command line? Check this article first for the most important commands to remember and a free downloadable cheat sheet so you can have the commands at your fingertips.

Disable the activity LED (green)

Right next to the red light, there is another green light attached to the component ACT. The green light shows the activity on the SD card. It’s static if the SD card is connected, and blinks when the Raspberry Pi reads or writes data on it.

It’s even more annoying than the red LED, as it blinks often.
You can disable it with a similar procedure:

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  • Open /boot/config.txt.
  • Go to the end of the file.
  • Add these lines:
    dtparam=act_led_trigger=none
    dtparam=act_led_activelow=off
  • Reboot.

Unlike the power LED, there are triggers occurring all the time that will turn the green LED on and off, so you need the first line to disable all these triggers.

If you only add the second line, the LED will be turned off at the beginning of the boot process, but will light up as soon as the SD card is used (probably milliseconds later!). So, you need both lines.

You can also disable the triggers for the power LED if you notice any issues with my previous instructions (for the red light), but in my tests, it looks like it was enough to turn off the “activelow” parameter.

Related article you should read: What Does the Green and Red Light Mean on Raspberry Pi?

Disable the network LEDs

There are also two LEDs on the network card (if you use an RJ45 cable). So, even if you disabled the green and red lights on one side, you may still have LEDs blinking on the other side.

You can also add lines in config.txt to disable them:

  • Open /boot/config.txt.
  • Go to the end of the file.
  • Add this line:
    dtparam=eth_led0=14
    dtparam=eth_led1=14
  • Reboot.

Note: In the documentation, I have found different values depending on the Raspberry Pi model. It looks like it should be “14” on Raspberry Pi 3B+ and “4” on Raspberry Pi 4. But these values worked on my Pi 4, so I’m not sure why they are supposed to be different.

    eth_led0                Set mode of LED0 - amber on Pi3B+ (default "1"),
                            green on Pi4 (default "0").
                            The legal values are:

                            Pi3B+

                            0=link/activity          1=link1000/activity
                            2=link100/activity       3=link10/activity
                            4=link100/1000/activity  5=link10/1000/activity
                            6=link10/100/activity    14=off    15=on

                            Pi4

                            0=Speed/Activity         1=Speed
                            2=Flash activity         3=FDX
                            4=Off                    5=On
                            6=Alt                    7=Speed/Flash
                            8=Link                   9=Activity

    eth_led1                Set mode of LED1 - green on Pi3B+ (default "6"),
                            amber on Pi4 (default "8"). See eth_led0 for
                            legal values.

Source

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Disable all LEDs

To sum up, if you want to disable all LEDs on your Raspberry Pi, here are the lines you need to add in your config.txt file:

#Disable Power LED (Red)
dtparam=pwr_led_activelow=off
#Disable Activity LED (Green)
dtparam=act_led_trigger=none
dtparam=act_led_activelow=off
#Disable LAN LEDs
dtparam=eth_led0=14
dtparam=eth_led1=14

Make sure to reboot to apply the changes. Then you can keep all these lines in your config.txt and just use some of them (add “#” at the beginning of the line) if you need to see the LED activity at some point.

My file looks like that in Nano4, with all LEDs disabled:

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Related Questions

What is the config.txt file on Raspberry Pi?

On a Raspberry Pi, the config.txt file includes all the system settings that must be applied on boot. It’s like the BIOS on a traditional computer. That’s one of the first files that will be checked in the boot sequence.

In most cases, you don’t have to change anything there, as you’ll use the Raspberry Pi configuration tool (or raspi-config in a terminal) to edit these values. But it’s the only way for some advanced parameters (like disabling LEDs).

How to edit the config.txt file?

The config.txt file is stored under /boot in the file system hierarchy. This partition can be read directly on the Raspberry Pi and from a computer when the SD card is plugged into it.

It’s a simple text file, so you can use any text editor to open, read and change lines. Just follow the documentation to respect the file format and values.

On Raspberry Pi, the easiest way is to use Nano from a terminal. You need administrator privileges to edit this file, so the command would be:
sudo nano /boot/config.txt

If you are unfamiliar with Nano, you can check my tutorial here, with all the commands and shortcuts. It’s not complicated, you can edit the values directly, and press CTRL+X to exit (and save your changes). You can also use Vim if you prefer, or any other editor that you can start with sudo.

Another way would be to insert the SD card into your computer. On Windows, the boot partition will be mounted automatically, and you can access the file directly with any text editor, you have:

Make the changes listed in this article, save the file, and eject the SD card properly. When you’ll put it back in the Raspberry Pi, the LEDs should be disabled.

What do the green and red LEDs mean on Raspberry Pi?

Red and green lights are used to show different functions. A flashing green LED light indicates that a program is running; meanwhile, a flicker displays how the program is functioning. Red LED lights indicate whether the Raspberry Pi is receiving enough power or not.

You can find more details in this article that I wrote on this topic.

What do the network LEDs mean?

On the network adapter, there are two LEDs with different meanings:

  • A green one: shows network activity. In general, it’s always on and blinks when there is data transmitted.
  • An amber one: shows the speed of the connection (turned off on 1Gps network).

It’s possible to change the default behavior of those LEDs, as explained previously in the article. Check the documentation for a list of the possibilities.

Would it be possible to disable the LEDs without rebooting?

There are files under /sys/class/leds for each lead. They include the LEDs statuses and the different triggers. Changing these files will affect the LED status without rebooting.

That’s the theory, at least. It works pretty well for the red light for example, but the other ones have so many triggers that it would be tricky (or you have to disable them all first, and then change their status within your script).

A simple way to turn a LED on and off is to use these commands:

echo 0 | sudo tee /sys/class/leds/led1/brightness #Turn off
echo 1 | sudo tee /sys/class/leds/led1/brightness #Turn on

LED1 is the red light, so it’s the easiest one to try.

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