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How to Connect a Monitor to a Laptop

By Edited Jun 29, 2015 3 3
Dual Monitor Setup
Credit: Ricardo Moctezuma López via WikiCommons

Hooking up a second monitor to your laptop gives you more space to multitask and move applications and documents around to be more productive. It is particularly useful if you are editing video or reference a document as you work in another.

The following describes how to hook up another monitor or overhead projector to a Windows based laptop and how to expand to three monitors if you choose.

Connecting Dual Monitors for a Laptop

Modern laptops are equipped with a VGA port on the side or the back. To add another monitor to your laptop display, simply plug the VGA male plug into your female plug located on your laptop. Easy enough right?

Well, there is one other setting you need to change within Windows. You need to tell Windows to use both screens.

Click the Start button in the lower left corner, then Control Panel, then Appearance and Personalization. Under the Display section, click ‘Connect an external display’.

How to Connect a Monitor to a Laptop
Credit: Microsoft Windows

Next, click ‘Connect to a projector’

How to Connect a Monitor to a Laptop
A pop-up box will display with 4 options.

How to Connect a Monitor to a Laptop

Select ‘Extend’ if you want to be able to drag your work over to the other monitor so that you will see different things on different screens.

Select ‘Duplicate’ if you want the same thing to show on both screens

What’s shown on your main screen will be duplicated on the second display. Select ‘Extend these displays’ from the ‘Multiple displays’ drop-down menu to expand your desktop across both monitors.

You may need to adjust the resolution on the screen. To do this, from the Appearance and Personalization screen, click ‘Adjust screen resolution’ in the Display section. Adjust the resolution to your liking.

To Give Presentation on Overhead Monitor

If you have ever been in a meeting and someone giving the presentation tries and fails to hook up their laptop to an overhead projector in the conference room, you know how frustrating that can be. It is a relatively simply process that only takes a couple of steps to do, but too often, it holds up a meeting.

Some projectors have VGA connectors while others have DVI. Your laptop should have options for both either on the side or back.

If you would like to connect your laptop to an overhead projector and view the display on the projector only, follow the steps in the previous section with one exception. When selecting a choice for extending the view, select ‘Projector Only’. Once this option is selected, you will have to exit the Projector only setting in order to return to view everything on your laptop.

If you want to use the external monitor exclusively, just close your laptop's lid. Most laptops are smart enough to see the external monitor and let you start using it, and also keep the laptop's power on while the lid is closed. When you open the laptop's lid, control returns to the laptop's LCD.

If you decide to close the lid on your notebook to avoid distractions during the meeting, there are two things you need to consider

First, check your power setting on your laptop. Make sure you have do not have it set to hibernate or sleep when you close the lid on your notebook. On many Power Saver or Eco modes, this is the default from the manufacturer so verify that is not set to one of those states else you will mistakenly put your laptop to sleep by mistake.

Second, closing the laptop will block yourself off from using the touch pad to maneuver the mouse overhead. Therefore, if you want to work that way, be sure to attach a wireless mouse to your notebook before the meeting.

Once again, if you need to adjust the resolution on the overhead, go to the Appearance and Personalization screen, click ‘Adjust screen resolution’ in the Display section and adjust the resolution as desired.

How to Setup a Dual Monitors to a Laptop

Some people like to work with 2 additional monitors, one to each side of their laptop display. To accomplish this, you will need a "VGA to USB adaptor" since your notebook only has 1 VGA port.

Once you have the adaptor, plug the monitor into the VGA side and the USB adaptor into an available USB port on the notebook.

Click the Start button in the lower left corner, then Control Panel, then Appearance and Personalization. Under the Display section, click ‘Connect an external display’. Next, click ‘Connect to a projector’. Select Extend in the pop-up box.

Setting Up Multiple Monitors in OS X

To extend your desktop on an Apple machine, do the following after connecting both displays using the VGA port on the laptop and VGA to  USB adapter as described earlier.

  1. Power on both the Mac and the additional monitor.
  2. From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences.
  3. From the View menu, choose Displays.
  4. Click the Arrangement tab.
  5. Uncheck the box for "Mirror Displays".

Each blue box represents a display that is currently connected. (see below)

Connecting Two Monitors to Your Laptop
Credit: Apple iOS

The white bar at the top of one of the displays indicates it is the primary display. If you want to change that, click and drag the white bar to the other box (display).

You can also drag the boxes to match their real world location when navigating your desktop. For instance, if you want the primary display to be the larger screen on the left, but it physically sits on the right side of your desk, drag that larger box to the right of the smaller box.

Now you are all set to do extensive tasks such as editing video, comparing documents such as spreadsheets, or perhaps writing an article on InfoBarrel.

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Comments

Sep 1, 2014 10:42am
dharrah
This is a well-written article. Very clear steps for end-users to follow. Good job!
Sep 1, 2014 10:42am
dharrah
This is a well-written article. Very clear steps for end-users to follow. Good job!
Oct 13, 2014 8:51am
frenoy
I appreciate the level of detail contained in this article.

Tip: It would benefit the users if you briefly covered the "mouse getting stuck on windows" issue when one has monitors of different resolutions connected in "extended display" mode and tries to move from one to the other.
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