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2nd Monitor Detected But Not Displaying – How to Resolve This Issue

Adding a second monitor to your PC set up can be an excellent way to multitask or enhance your appreciation of games and movies. But nothing is more disappointing than purchasing an excellent second monitor only for it to not work. Sometimes, you might find your 2nd monitor detected but not displaying. Even the best budget monitor on the market might eventually give you some trouble. If it's time to replace your monitor look at some reviews for trading / stock Monitors or gaming monitors under 400.

In this guide, we’ll go over a few tips you should keep in mind to solve this problem and enjoy your second monitor to its fullest. Also, find out what to do exactly when your computer turns on by itselfBefore all, make sure to read how to connect a monitor to a laptop in our detailed guide.

Key Takeaways

  • A great method to multitask or improve your enjoyment of games and movies on your PC setup is to add a second monitor
  • Take on these initial steps that we wrote in the article to make sure you've covered all your bases before tearing out cables or taking more serious measures.
  • Your second monitor may not be showing for one of two reasons: either a hardware or software problem exists.
  • If you have tried all of the suggested fixes and the problem has not been resolved, it is best to quit trying to fix it yourself and call a professional.

Preliminary Steps

First things first. Before you start ripping out cables or going after more drastic measures, tackle these preliminary steps to make sure that you have your bases covered. If your computer turns on but not displaying, it might be the result of a rather simple displaying issue instead of something more complex. Double-check all of these aspects before moving on to the rest of the guide. 

using the 2nd monitor

1. Is This the First Use?

First off, consider whether this is the first time you’ve used the second monitor. If it is the first time, that automatically indicates that it’s probably certain kinds of issues instead of others. For instance, a monitor that never works with your computer might have a hardware issue. On the other hand, a monitor that previously worked just fine but is now being detected but not displaying might have issues with drivers or other software.

If your monitor previously worked, chances are good that the hardware is all intact. That means you can focus on software workarounds or other solutions. But if this is the first time the monitor has ever been plugged into your computer, you’ll probably need to go through every possible solution to cover all your bases. It might be a hardware issue or a software issue, or both.

One other thing to keep in mind is whether your computer has recently updated and the monitor worked previously. If that’s the case, chances are very good that it’s a software issue.

2. Restart Your Computer

This sounds like a cliché, but it's one of the most recommended technical difficulty pieces of advice for reason. Restart your computer gives your PC a chance to restart its functions from the ground up. As a computer boots up, it initializes certain foundational systems before moving on to things like monitor displays.

Sometimes, when you install a new monitor, like a 40 inch 4K monitor, and its requisite software and drivers, your computer gets confused about what it should prioritize. Restarting the computer allows it to properly categorize the new monitor’s functions. It can also work to help your PC detect the monitor in the first place. Sometimes, if you don’t restart your computer after installing new software, the PC fails to recognize the new gadget you’re trying to use.

3. Test With An Alternative Configuration

You should also tinker with the configuration of your monitor. This might mean plugging it into different ports if your PC has multiple ports for several monitors in the first place. You should also try plugging your primary monitor into the port you're trying to use for your second monitor. This will give you an idea of whether it's the port for the computer or if it's the monitor that's causing the problem.

Another good solution is to plug in this second monitor and unplug your primary monitor. If the second monitor works just fine when plugged in where the first monitor normally is, chances are good you have a problem with the secondary port. This, again, helps you to narrow down whether the issue is based on hardware or software.

4. Are the Drivers Updated?

Huge reason why certain technological accessories and gadgets don’t work with certain PCs are driver updates. You need to make sure that your PC’s dedicated display drivers for its graphics card are fully updated before attempting to use a second monitor.

That’s because monitors are often packaged with drivers that are designed for the latest software of your PC. If your PC hasn’t been updated in some time, it might be that the monitor can’t properly communicate with your computer because it’s “out of date”.

Possible graphics drivers you might need to look for are AMD, NVIDIA GeForce, and even Intel Integrated Graphics. You can normally find links to various driver pages by checking out the control panel for your graphics card.

5. Checked for Viruses

You should also investigate whether a virus might be the cause of your display woes. All PCs should have antivirus and anti-malware software already installed. But if you don’t, chances are good your last venture onto the Internet picked up a few bugs that might be hampering your system and its integration.

However, viruses aren’t normally responsible for making monitors not work properly. This is just something to cover as a failsafe. You never really know, and it’s a good thing to do a virus check whenever something doesn’t work correctly with your computer as a general rule.

If you’ve walked through all of these preliminary steps, you can now move on to actual fixes.

2 monitors on the desk

7 Steps to Fix 2nd Monitor Detected But Not Displaying 

Whether you have a Dell or the best FreeSync monitor around, there are two possible reasons your external monitor is detected but not displaying: either it’s a software issue or a hardware issue. A software issue means that there is some error in communication between the monitor and your computer.

This is usually centered around driver incompatibility, or it might be something to do with your operating system. Rarely, a virus might mess with your computer’s software and code enough to make it impossible to join a second display to your system.

It might also be a hardware issue. A hardware issue is something physically wrong with either the monitor or your computer. This might be something with the monitor’s actual construction or it might be something wrong with the monitor port on the back of your computer.

Step 1: Change the Dual Monitor’s Display Settings

If your second monitor is detected but not displaying, sometimes it’s just a setting messing things up. Look into your “Display Settings” by right-clicking on an empty area within your desktop. Find the detection button and Windows will automatically try to detect the monitor. 

If that doesn’t work, press Windows Key + X. This will lead you to a Device Manager. When you're in the Device Manager tab, you can double-check that your graphics card is being detected by the Windows operating system. Look under the "Display Adapters" and "Monitors" tabs. You should also see if any errors have a yellow caution sign. This indicates an issue with that part of the system or graphics card that needs to be addressed. Although this is going to vary a lot per person, one of our readers (his comment below) said:
This helped him:

  1.  Go to your dual monitor’s Display Settings (you can go there by doing a right clicking on an empty area within desktop)
  2.  Select the Monitor (in my case, it was monitor 2)
  3. Try clicking Identify (It did not help me)
  4. Go to “Advanced Display Settings” at the bottom of the page
  5. Click on “Display adapter properties for display-2”
  6. Go to Monitor tab
  7. Select a different screen refresh rate (in my case, 60 Hertz worked even though my monitor supports 75 Hertz)

Again, what actually works for you may be different, but this is one example of one reader utilizing great problem solving skills!

Step 2: Check and Test the Hardware

As we said earlier, try using your secondary monitor as your primary monitor. If this doesn’t work, then there’s a good chance you have a hardware error within the monitor itself.

To test this, try replacing your secondary monitor with a third monitor. If the third monitor works fine, then the second monitor is likely faulty. You could also try connecting the secondary monitor to a separate PC, Surface Pro, laptop or desktop. If it works with that PC, then you know that the monitor itself is working properly and it’s something unique to your main PC that is causing the issue.

Beyond that, do some common sense checking and investigate the cables and outer appearance of the ports for both devices. Is there visible damage? If so, you might be able to get a replacement if you have a warranty for the monitor.

Step 3: Reinstall or Update Your Graphics Drivers

If hardware all checks out, you need to move on to software and driver updates. Your computer's graphics driver is responsible for integrating the computer software programs with your graphics hardware. These drivers should always be updated, but occasionally they miss their automatic updates.

Step 3A: Updating Graphics Driver with Manufacturer Control Panel

Go back to the Device Manager tab mentioned earlier. When you're in the Device Manager tab, click on "Display Adapters". You can right-click on the graphics card and manually update the drivers. Do this for all the graphics cards you have. It's here that you can also reinstall or update graphics driver manually if they are already up to date.

You can alternatively check the dedicated website for your graphics card provider, whether it's Intel, AMD, or NVIDIA. They usually have new updates on their front page.

Finally, make sure your Windows operating system is also updated. Type “Check for Updates” in the Windows search bar at the bottom left corner of your screen. This will automatically search for and install any relevant updates.

Step 4: Perform System Restore

If your second monitor is detected but not displaying and you use Windows 10, you can perform a system restore to bring your computer to a previous state. This is useful if Windows updates and the monitor was working previously, as this indicates the update itself is causing the issue.

Using the Windows system restore, you can choose a restore point (usually a date) and restore the system from there. You can also restore your Windows from a prior Windows update. Alternatively, you can roll back to a previously installed version of Windows entirely.

Step 5: Update Your Windows Operating System

Don't forget to keep your Windows operating system update. Go to the control panel or use the Windows search bar to keep your operating system current. Remember, newer monitors will be installed with modern drivers which may not work with older versions of Windows operating systems.

Step 6: Scan Computer for Viruses After Update

Scanning your computer for viruses after updates is another good idea, even if it's a long shot. Some particularly bad malware viruses and bugs can compromise the system files and core root functions of your operating system. Make sure you have good antivirus software in place to not only protect your computer from this happening in the first place but also to kill any malware bugs that might currently be in your system.

Step 7: If Nothing Helps, Reinstall Your Windows Operating System

If all else fails, you can proceed to this last resort. Reinstalling your Windows operating system completely reboots your computer from scratch and eliminates the majority of your data and programs, requiring that they be re-created or installed. This is incredibly tedious and time-consuming, but it might be your only option if your second monitor was working previously and now is giving you trouble.

Be sure to try every other option before reinstalling your Windows operating system.


1. How do I fix a black screen on my second monitor?

If the second monitor's screen is also blank, it could be a video cable issue. If you have multiple connection options such as DVI, HDMI, etc., try replacing the video cable or using a different video cable. If VGA works, then there may be a problem with your HDMI or DVI cable. You can watch also the instruction in this video.

2. How come my second monitor is not working?

There are a few things you can check to try and fix the issue. First, make sure that both monitors are plugged into the same video card and that the cables are in good condition. If they are, check the settings on your computer. Make sure that both monitors are selected as display devices and that the primary monitor is set to the correct one. If neither of those solutions work, it may be a problem with the video card or the motherboard.

3. Why is my monitor being detected but not displaying?

The monitor's cables may not be plugged in properly, or the monitor itself may be turned off. If the monitor is plugged in and turned on, the computer's video card may be defective or there may not be enough power going to the monitor.

4. Why does my second screen go black?

If the cable run is too long or the signal is split (using a non-powered DVI or HDMI splitter), the monitor may go black due to insufficient signal strength.

5. How do I fix dual monitors?

How to Troubleshoot Monitor Issues with Multiple Monitors.

1. Inspect your power and signal cables for signs of wear and tear.
2. Determine whether an adapter is being used.
3. Resetting the monitor's default settings may resolve any issues with no signal.
4. Connect the suspect monitors individually to another system that is known to work.

6. What kind of cable is required to link two monitors?

You can connect two monitors to your PC's HDMI ports by using an HDMI cable for each display.

How do I get my computer to recognize 2 monitors?

After clicking Start, go to Settings. Go to System and choose Display. Your desktop should open up on your computer's automatic detection of your monitors. If the monitors aren't visible, choose Multiple displays, then Detect.

Multiple monitors panel


Even after trying each of the methods discussed, and the issue still does not go away, it is advisable to stop attempting to fix it yourself and seek out an expert instead. You can speak with the maker of the monitor and explain the situation to them.

Or, you can bring your computer to any nearby Windows repair facility. The remedies listed in the post will undoubtedly assist you, barring any significant hardware issues with the monitor. Please share your experience with us in the comments area below if any of the fixes work for you.

About Lawrence Jung

Lawrence graduated cum laude from Boston University with a B.S. in Journalism. He then started working with The New York Times for 3 years as an editor. Upon their acquisition of online review website the Wire Cutter he became exposed to the digital world of review-style articles and digital content. He was a writer for many tech review products where he developed his expertise in the electronic and PC peripheral space. He quickly got promoted to managing a writing team where he was responsible for training and managing a team of over a dozen writers. After being there for another 3.5 years, Lawrence left in late 2019 to help Dusan create VSS Monitoring, where he could help design and contribute to the site’s content and website’s architecture to develop what he wants to become THE top tech resource online.

15 thoughts on “2nd Monitor Detected But Not Displaying – How to Resolve This Issue”

  1. Thank you, I was able to connect the dots and make it work.

    What caught my attention is the sentence above saying: “If your second monitor is detected but not displaying, sometimes it’s just a setting messing things up. Look into your “Display Settings” by right-clicking on an empty area within your desktop. Find the detection button and Windows will automatically try to detect the monitor. “.

    In summary, the exact steps I followed:
    1. Go to Display Settings (you can go there by doing a right clicking on an empty area within desktop)
    2. Select the Monitor (in my case, it was monitor 2)
    3. Try clicking Identify (It did not help me)
    4. Go to “Advanced Display Settings” at the bottom of the page
    5. Click on “Display adapter properties for display-2”
    6. Go to Monitor tab
    7. Select a different screen refresh rate (in my case, 60 Hertz worked even though my monitor supports 75 Hertz)

  2. my second monitor is being discovered but it says that there is no video input. I don’t know how to make my second monitor project onto both.

  3. Somewhere out there, there is a human who will help me with this. Please be that human. My HDMI stopped working a few months ago and I’m going crazy. Details here:

    – When I run Linux on my PC (I’ve got dual boot) the output is perfect, so it isn’t a hardware problem.
    – Audio and second screens are detected for some reason (even though my monitor LG MP59G doesn’t have audio system).
    – When I try recognizing screens 1|2 pop up in my main Laptop screen when the 2nd screen is unplugged it just doesn’t show 1|2 anymore.
    – When I connect my laptop to a monitor the signal isn’t received, but I tried connecting with a Samsung smart tv and it worked (?)

    Here’s what I’ve tried:

    – I have tried with many different monitors and many different HDMI cables. So yeah, that’s not it.
    – I have updated, uninstalled, and unrolled every possible driver (Intel and Nvidia).
    – Tried changing the screen refresh rate. Nope.
    – I uninstalled all apps which could be generating issues (vlc media player included).
    – I recovered BIOS… didn’t work.
    – Yeah, Hyper-V is off (I don’t know of any other Windows feature which could be a problem).
    -I have tried a few cmd solutions but none of them worked so far, and I can’t remember all of them but I will be happy to try again if you recommend any.
    – Hopelessly, I reset my computer to factory presets, deleting everything in my machine and starting fresh. Didn’t work.

    And that’s pretty much it, please someone help me out.

    • I have a very similar issue. I duel boot my laptop with windows/linux and it works fine when linux is used. In windows the screen is detected by the computer but the monitor says “no signl detected”.

      I tried updating the drivers/fiddling with refresh rates. The problem persists with new monitors/cables (and everything works when i boot with linux).

      Maybe our issue is related to the linux install?
      Any help is appreciated

  4. Thank you – very useful!
    I got my second monitor to work by reducing the resolution slightly (not the refresh rate) – so it all works fine now!

  5. My second monitor was detected but not displaying; I got it working by going into display–and under multiple displays clicking on extend desktop to this display; it blinked twice and worked.

  6. Thank you very much to the writer for the complete and step-by-step instructions for fixing 2nd monitor detected but not displaying.

  7. im having the problem where it says i have two displays but not showing it on my second monitor i cant have it extend ( where its one big screen) but it says i have monitors and i can have my mouse go to the other side while my second screen is totally black but thats not helping my dual monitor craze and im going crazy because i spent three weeks buying wrong cables because the first cable was the switcher and it was useless to me and then i dumbfound bought splitter where just splits the screen and this two hour search i realized it was the wrong cable again then i was just mad then i finally got the right cable but now its been worst where it says it there but no signal and this makes me wanna just throw my pc out the window i swear if anyone has a real answer please answer

  8. My problem was I was using both Onboard Graphics, and a Graphics Card. The monitor that was in issue was hooked up to the Onboard and would display fine when booting up, but go black on the desktop. The problem ended up being that it was set on 60hz, and onboard only supports 30hz. Thanks for the help!

  9. I have 2 external monitors connected to my laptop. All 3 displays are detected. I can duplicate the screens however, the 2 external monitors will only display the wallpaper on my laptop screen and not my activity. The icons on the bottom tray display and you can see them highlighted when I move from one to the other. The clock in the corner updates, I have sound to all 3 but the display on the 2 externals only show the wallpaper. It’s like the activity is running behind the main wallpaper. Very strange… HELP


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