How to connect a monitor to your laptop (Windows 10 and Mac)
August 18th, 2022
Hooking a monitor up to your laptop can help you multitask and give your eyes a break. But the setup process may seem a bit daunting—especially if you’ve never done it before.
Don’t worry. Asurion Experts help millions of customers solve their device problems every day—from setting up a new iPhone to connecting a laptop to a smart TV. Here are their tips for connecting a monitor to a laptop and what you should do if your computer has trouble detecting it.
How to connect a monitor to your laptop (Windows 10)
First, identify your laptop’s ports. Depending on the model, your laptop may have limited port options—in which case you’ll need to buy an adapter to connect the monitor.
External display connectors
Look for one of these three types of ports on your laptop:
- HDMI: Use an HDMI cable to connect the monitor to your laptop.
- USB-C: This port lets you connect to HDMI if your laptop supports it (check with your manufacturer to find out).
- DisplayPort: This one looks like an HDMI port, but one side of the connector is flat unlike an HDMI’s two slanted sides.
Duplicate or extend display in Windows 10
- Once you’ve plugged the monitor into the computer and a power source, Windows™ should automatically detect it—if it doesn’t, click Start > Settings > System > Display. Under the Multiple displays header, click the Detect button.
- From the Display interface, select the secondary display, then select Extend these displays or Duplicate these displays from the menu at the bottom of the screen under Multiple displays.
How to connect an external monitor to a Mac
The instructions for Mac® are similar to those for Windows 10. The first step is to identify your laptop’s ports. Depending on the model of your device, you may have limited port options—in which case you’ll need to buy an adapter to connect the monitor.
External display connectors
Depending on the model, you can connect a macOS laptop to secondary displays via these two types of ports:
- Thunderbolt 3 or 4: These use a USB-C connector to allow your Mac to connect to displays that use DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI, or VGA.
- HDMI: Use an HDMI cable to connect the monitor to your laptop
Duplicate or extend display for Mac
- Connect the monitor to your Mac and a power source—your laptop should automatically identify it.
- Open System Preferences and select Displays to choose your display settings.
To use your monitor as an extended desktop:
- Click Arrangement to see your current display arrangement.
- Click and drag the display boxes to adjust their locations in relation to one another.
- The primary display features a white rectangle at the top—you can drag and drop it onto any of the other displays to change the primary display.
To mirror your desktop onto the second display:
- Click Arrangement and select the Mirror Displays checkbox
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What to do if your laptop doesn’t detect the monitor
Try these troubleshooting tips in case your laptop doesn’t recognize your secondary display.
- Make sure the laptop is charged and turned on and the video cable is securely plugged into both the laptop and monitor.
- Make sure you select Extend these displays for display 2 in the display settings.
- If you use a USB-C adapter or a dock, make sure it has power if required.
- Try disconnecting the cables and plugging them back in.
- Extra-long HDMI cords aren’t always reversible and have connectors labeled “source” and “TV.” Make sure to put them into the correct device.
- Try restarting the computer.
- Make sure the monitor is displaying the right input source.
- Some monitors have multiple ports for devices to plug into—try using a different port.
- Try using a different cable.
- Plug another device into the monitor to make sure it’s working correctly.
First, make sure you aren’t using more secondary displays than your computer allows.
- Select the Apple menu in the top-right corner > About This Mac.
- Double-click your serial number, then press Command-C to copy it.
- Go to the Tech Specs website, press Command-V to paste your computer’s serial number in the search bar, then click Search.
- Click on your Mac’s specs—look for the number of displays it supports under Video Support or Graphics.
Or if you have a Mac with Apple silicon (check this list to see if your Mac has Apple silicon):
- You can connect one display to your Mac using either of the Thunderbolt or USB 4 ports. If you’re on an iMac or a Mac mini, connect your display to either of the ports with the Thunderbolt symbol.
- A Mac mini (M1, 2020) lets you connect a second display to the HDMI port.
- Using a dock won’t increase the number of displays you can connect.
If your Mac still doesn’t recognize your monitor:
- Restart your Mac, then check for and install any available updates.
- Check your cable and adapters to make sure they’re not damaged and that everything is securely connected.
- Open System Preferences > Displays, then press and hold the Option key and click on the Detect Displays button that appears in the bottom-right corner.
- If possible, try swapping out cables and adapters and using different ports on the Mac and the display.
- Confirm that the monitor is on the right source input.
How to use a tablet as a monitor
If you don’t want to get a monitor but have an iPad, try using one to extend your desktop. Here’s how.
To use an iPad as a second monitor for your Mac:
Thanks to the Apple® Sidecar™ feature, you can connect wirelessly or use the USB charging cable it came with to turn your iPad® into a secondary display.
- Click the Control Center icon in the top-right corner of your screen, then click the display menu and choose your iPad.
- If you don’t see the Control Center icon click the AirPlay® icon in the top-right corner and select your iPad.
To stop using Sidecar, go back to the display menu in the Control Center and select your iPad to disconnect it or go to the AirPlay menu and choose to disconnect.
To use an iPad or tablet as a second monitor with Windows:
If you want to connect an iPad or another tablet to a computer running Windows, you’ll have to use a third-party app like Duet® Display.
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How to Use a Second Monitor With Your Laptop
When you worked in the office, you had plenty of space for multiple monitors. But now that you’re working from home, the company laptop screen leaves a little to be desired. Fortunately, it’s easy to add more screen space to most laptops, even if it doesn’t have a built-in display output.
There are a number of ways to extend your laptop’s screen, and we’ll look for the ways that involve buying the least amount of extra hardware. If you already have an extra monitor (or even an iPad!) lying around, then you might be able to get more screen real estate with very little extra work.
Use the External Display Connectors on Your Laptop
Many laptops come with a port dedicated to connecting a second monitor built right in. In some cases, these may look like the typical ports you’re used to, such as HDMI, but more often they’re smaller versions that look unfamiliar. If there’s a port you don’t recognize, check to see if it’s something you can connect to a display.
For example, Macbooks and some Windows laptops use Thunderbolt, Mini DisplayPort, or Mini-DVI ports to connect to external monitors. You’ll need an adapter or cable that can run from your laptop’s port to the connector on your display, so take a look at which specific cables you need. My original Surface Book, for example, features a small Mini DisplayPort, but I was able to buy an adapter that turns it into a regular HDMI port that I can connect to almost any TV or monitor with a typical HDMI cable. No matter what ports you need to convert between, you can probably find an adapter or cable you need on sites like Monoprice or Amazon.
Hook Up to a USB Port
If you don’t have a dedicated display connector on your laptop, you can sometimes use a USB connection. USB-C in particular can be used to connect to monitors just as easily as they can connect to portable hard drives or your phone. Often these require only a cable running from the port to your monitor.
If you don’t have USB-C ports on your laptop, then the old familiar style of USB ports can also work. External hubs can not only add extra USB ports to your computer, but also allow you to connect displays via HDMI, and even add an ethernet connection. This is an especially useful method if you already needed extra ports to hook up all the peripherals you’re used to using in the office. Only some laptops can support video output through USB-C, and only some external dongles can add video support to a device that doesn’t already have it, so be sure to check the manual on your manufacturer’s website for details about your specific device.
Repurpose a Tablet As a Second Monitor
If you have a tablet laying around, you can repurpose it as a second, smaller monitor instead of buying an entirely separate display. Apple’s Sidecar is baked right into the Mac operating system and allows iPads to connect via USB-C or Lightning cable to extend your desktop.
If you’re not exclusively using Apple products, then third party apps can help you accomplish the same thing. DuetDisplay allows you to connect Android or iOS tablets to Mac or Windows devices. This is a more robust option to go with if you tend to mix your platforms.
Attach a Monitor Directly to Your Laptop
Believe it or not, there are monitors available that are designed specifically to be secondary laptop displays. The Duex Pro, for example, is a display that attaches to the back of your laptop’s screen. It can slide out to the side when you need to use it, then slide back and hide away when you’re done. This can save a lot of space and, best of all, you can carry this display with you when you travel.
If you’d rather not attach the monitor directly to your laptop itself, there are still portable displays designed to run off of a single connection (meaning they don’t require separate power). These are easy to store inside your laptop bag and plug in when you need a bit of extra space without being too cumbersome.
Offload Some of Your Work to Your Phone
Chances are good that you have a smartphone (or even a tablet) in your pocket or on your desk, even when you’re working from home. Depending on what you need to do at work, it might be possible to offload some of your tasks to your phone and skip the need for an entire monitor altogether. In that case, a stand (or a wireless charger) that props your phone up where you can see it can be good enough.
For example, if you receive a lot of emails throughout the day, your phone might be a better way to figure out which ones need your attention. If it’s an email you can ignore or archive, tap a button on the notification and it’s handled. On the other hand, if it’s important, you can switch to your inbox on your main computer and take a closer look. You can use this same technique to keep an eye on Slack chats, monitor news feeds, or keep an eye on dashboards or other metrics without making them so convenient that they become distractions.
Working from home might be more inconvenient than the office you’re used to, but it presents a good opportunity to rethink how you do the work that you’re used to doing. If there are ways to make that work more efficient and easier, there’s no better time to disrupt your usual habits than when they’re already disrupted.
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How to connect a monitor to a laptop?
Today we will connect an external monitor to a laptop, netbook, or ultrabook and set up the whole thing in Windows 10 and Windows 7. If you have Windows 8, everything will work out. It’s just that this system is not installed on my laptop, I can’t show everything and take screenshots. In general, in the process of connecting a laptop to a monitor, there is not much difference which version of Windows you have installed. In most cases, it is enough to simply connect the monitor to a laptop via an HDMI cable, or VGA, DVI, USB Type-C. We will also talk about which connection interface is best to use and what cable we need (possibly an adapter).
My laptop is almost always connected to a monitor. Plus a wireless keyboard and mouse. That is, I have a laptop as a system unit. It is very comfortable. I can turn off my laptop at any time and take it with me. It is virtually silent compared to a PC. And thanks to the monitor that I connect to at home, I can conveniently work on the big screen, watch movies, play games, etc.
In addition, the screen quality on laptops is very poor. I have introduced models from the budget and mid-price segment. Or old laptops.
Everyone has different tasks. And there can be a lot of cases when we may need to connect a monitor. Someone will connect to a big screen to watch movies, take their laptop to work and connect to a monitor there for more comfortable work, or, like me, use it as a desktop computer. In any case, we need to somehow connect and configure these two devices. By the way, instead of a monitor, you can use a TV.
To begin with, we will find out what connection interface (output) is on our laptop, we will also check if there is the same port (input) on the monitor and decide which one to use. And of course, we need a certain cable. In some cases, an adapter may also be needed.
Which interface and cable should be used to connect the laptop to the monitor?
At this stage it is very difficult to give any specific and universal recommendations. For the reason that everyone has different laptops and monitors. Therefore, consider the most popular connection options. One of them should suit you.
The most optimal and common interface for connecting a monitor to a laptop is HDMI . It is on almost every laptop and monitor. Even if your devices are not the newest. If you find an HDMI output on a laptop and an input on a monitor, then use that one.
First, look at your laptop. I will show everything on the example of two of my laptops. The new but budget Lenovo only has an HDMI output. As I already wrote, this is the optimal solution.
The second, older ASUS laptop has the same HDMI digital output and the outdated VGA.
What other options are there?
- Old laptops may only have VGA output.
- Rarely, sometimes laptops have a DVI output.
- On modern gaming laptops, in addition to HDMI, there may also be a mini Display Port.
- New ultrabooks (mostly expensive models) do not have a separate output for connecting an external monitor. There, a new USB Type-C port is used for these tasks. And since there are very few monitors with USB Type-C input now, you will most likely need an adapter. For example, USB-C – HDMI.
The laptop is sorted out. Let’s look at your monitor. What interfaces are there. My monitor has two HDMI inputs and one VGA (D-Sub).
Since my laptop has an HDMI output, and the monitor has an HDMI input, of course, I will use this interface to connect.
But, as you understand, this is not always the case. Consider the following options:
- There is no HDMI input on the monitor. And there are, for example, only DVI and VGA. In this case, you can connect via VGA (if there is such an output on the laptop). But, if the laptop has HDMI, then it is best to use an HDMI to DVI adapter.
- Only HDMI on the laptop, VGA on the monitor. You can also use an adapter. There are enough of them on the market. But, since VGA is not a digital output, the picture quality may not be very good.
Simply put, when both devices do not have the same interfaces, then you need to look towards adapters. And it’s better not to use outdated VGA in connection. If there is such an opportunity.
I think we figured out the connection interface. Depending on the selected interface, we need a cable or an adapter. I have a regular HDMI cable.
Very common. You can buy it in almost any digital equipment store. It happens in different lengths. Just say you need a cable to connect your computer to the monitor. I’ve been using the same cable for several years now.
Connect monitor to laptop via HDMI cable
It is recommended to disconnect both devices before connecting the cable. To be honest, I don’t. So far, nothing has burned down 🙂 But I recommend that you turn off the laptop and turn off the power to the monitor.
Connect the cable to the monitor.
Connect the other end of the cable to the laptop.
After connecting (and turning on) the image will most likely be duplicated on both screens (as in the photo below).
Update: There are many monitors with built-in speakers. An HDMI cable can transmit not only an image, but also sound. If immediately after connecting the sound does not go to the monitor, then see this article: how to output sound from a computer to a TV via HDMI. You may need to change your audio playback settings in Windows.
You can then change the multi-display mode. Windows has 4 modes :
- Duplicate, or Duplicate. This is when the same image is displayed on the laptop and monitor screen .
In this mode, there is one nuance with the screen resolution. It is determined by the lowest resolution and is set to both screens. On laptops, the resolution is usually 1366×768, and on monitors, 1920×1080. In this mode, the monitor will also be forced to set the resolution to 1366×768. And the picture will not be of very good quality. In my case, the laptop also has 1920×1080.
- Extend. When the second screen becomes, as it were, is a continuation of the main .
You can put some shortcuts, windows, etc. on it. You can, for example, work in a browser on a laptop screen, and put a player on the monitor and watch a movie. Or open the same YouTube in another browser window.
- Computer screen only (disable vice-rector). This is when the image is displayed only on the laptop screen . The monitor is disabled.
You can turn off the monitor without disconnecting the HDMI cable.
- And the last mode – Second screen only (projector only). Here it’s the other way around. The laptop screen is disabled, and the picture is displayed only on monitor .
I always work in this mode.
How to change these modes and, if necessary, change the resolution in the Windows display settings, I will show later in the article. Separately for Windows 10 and Windows 7.
Setting up a monitor (second screen) on a Windows 10 laptop
To quickly change the display method, just press the Win + P keyboard shortcut on the laptop keyboard. Or use a special function key. Most often paired with the Fn key.
The screen should display a menu in which you can already select the desired mode.
If these settings are not enough for you, you can open “Screen Settings” . By right-clicking on an empty area of the desktop.
There should be two displays.
These can be selected and parameters changed individually for each. You can also change the screen resolution. There you can also choose one of four options for working with two displays.
Everything seems to be simple and clear there. I think there is no need to describe each item of the settings.
Changing the settings for multiple screens in Windows 7
In Windows 7, you can also open the menu by pressing the WinWin + P keyboard shortcut. It looks like this:
You can open more advanced settings. To do this, right-click on the desktop and select “Screen Resolution” .
We will see that two screens are displayed. Monitor and laptop screen directly. They can be defined by clicking on the corresponding button. Also, by selecting a specific screen, you can change its resolution and orientation. Or change the dual screen mode.
This information is enough to enable you to connect your monitor to your laptop and enjoy the big screen. It is much more convenient to work, play games, or watch movies behind the monitor. And by disconnecting the laptop from the monitor, you can move to the sofa, or go to the nearest cafe and continue working over a cup of tea. Absolute freedom!
If you can’t decide on the connection interface, or you have other questions, then leave them in the comments. Just be sure to write the model of the laptop and monitor.
How to connect a monitor to a laptop? Reply from iCover.ru
You can connect the monitor to a laptop through the appropriate connector:
If your monitor also has a VGA connector, then in the graphics adapter settings you need to specify the option to output to an external display (this can be done in the laptop screen settings after connecting an external monitor).
To connect a laptop to an external monitor using the VGA interface:
- Unplug your laptop and monitor.
- Connect the laptop to the monitor with a VGA cable.
- Connect the monitor and laptop to the mains.
- Turn on the monitor first, then the laptop.
- Usually, after that, an image should appear on the monitor, if this did not happen, then you need to manually set the image transfer mode to the monitor. To do this, find on the laptop keyboard (among the F1 – F12 keys) an image that is typical for displaying a monitor. Switching the keys of the row F1 – F12 is possible only with the simultaneous pressing of the Fn button. By pressing it, you will switch the monitor connection modes to the laptop, there are three modes in total:
video output to laptop.
video output to laptop and monitor simultaneously;
video output to the monitor.
If the laptop video card has a DVI connector, you will need a special adapter. The procedure is similar to connecting via VGA, but if, in addition to DVI, your monitor and laptop are equipped with HDMI connectors, then it is better to use them.