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.
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.
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 monitor is detected but not displaying, it might be the result of a rather simple issue instead of something more complex. Double-check all of these aspects before moving on to the rest of the guide.
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 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 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?
Driver updates are a huge reason why certain technological accessories and gadgets don’t work with certain PCs. 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 drivers you might need to look for are AMD, NVIDIA, 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.
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 second monitor is 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 monitor 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. Here 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.
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, 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 Graphics Driver
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. Then 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 the graphics drivers 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 not displaying but 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 restore function, 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 after updates for viruses 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.