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Resize the SD Image

Using GParted to shrink the disk size



The original image file for Raspbian is under 4 GB but after running the first time configuration, it is resized to fit the SD card. Depending on your SD card, this could be 16, 32, 64, or even 128 GB. A large image size makes it very difficult to make backups and to share with others. This is easily solved by shrinking the disk partition with GParted.

Parts List


Start with a pi running a full Raspbian install, including a vncserver. The pi should be easy to connect to and update. You also need a separate SD card with a disk you would like resized.

  1. Insert the MicroSD and USB
  2. Install GParted
  3. Start GParted
  4. Select the partition
  5. Resize the partition
  6. Apply the resize
  7. Quit
  8. Conclusion.


Insert the MicroSD and USB

  • Insert the MicroSD into the USB card reader
  • Insert the USB card reader into the pi
Inserted USB Card Reader
Inserted USB Card Reader
  • Boot the pi
  • Verify the USB connects, lsusb
  • Check for correct reading of the disk, sudo fdisk -l
    • It should list at least 2 separate devices. On mine there is /dev/mmcblk0 and /dev/sda. Each device has 2 partitions. /dev/sda2 is the partition to be resized.

Install GParted

GParted is a partition editor for graphically managing your disk partitions. Using standard installation methods, install GParted.

  • sudo apt_get update
  • sudo apt-get install gparted

Start GParted

GParted is graphical, so you need to connect to the desktop.

  • Via SSH, vncserver -nolisten tcp -nevershared -dontdisconnect :1
  • From your browser connect to the pi's VNC
  • Start a terminal
  • Start GParted with root permissions, gksudo gparted

Select the partition

From the GUI, select the partition. For the example case, it is the second partition on /dev/sda. See image.

GParted, select device
GParted, select device
  • Right click and unmount the selected partition.

Resize the partition

  • Right click the partition and choose Resize/Move
  • In the dialog box, make note of the Minimum size. (In example, it is 3829 MB)
  • Enter the size you wish the partition to be in New size.
    • Make the new size larger than the minimum size
    • I usually round up to the next 1/2 GB. Since 1 GB = 1024 MB, a 1/2 GB = 512 MB.
  • Click Resize/Move
GParted, resize dialog
GParted, resize dialog

Apply the resize

  • Click the green check mark to Apply All Operations
  • Verify your choice in the dialog
  • If you receive an error, try again with a larger resize


  • Quit GParted
  • Disconnet from VNC
  • From SSH, vncserver -kill :1
  • sudo shutdown now
  • Power down
  • Remove the USB and SD card


Now that the disk is much smaller, it is much easier to save the image. Go ahead and write the image to disk. There is much more you can do with GParted.