Would you wish to see more on screen real estate for your laptop?
A laptop or desktop computer is a powerful tool whether you use it for work or entertainment. It is popular due to its portability. As long as you have a reliable battery, you can expect to use your laptop for hours, even in areas with no electricity connection.
However, even with so many advantages, there is one compromise that you're forced to stomach: a small screen. Not to worry. Nothing stops you from connecting your laptop, to a larger monitor. It doesn't matter if you are looking to link your thin laptops, laptops for travelers, laptops for business people, or your gaming laptop under $2000.
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How Do You Connect Laptops to an External Monitor?
If you want an external monitor to carry around with your laptop, a portable monitor setup is the best option (see also 'How to Close a Laptop and Use a Monitor' review). You can use a USB C cable to power the monitor.
The first and most important step in determining how you can link your laptop to an external monitor or even in multiple monitors is knowing the connector on your laptop. Every laptop has at least one connector; VGA, DVI ports, HDMI, or DisplayPort.
Most modern laptops may come with just a USB C port.
If your Windows laptop has an HDMI port, then an standard HDMI cable will come in handy. If they feature a VGA connection, then a VGA cable will come in handy.
See, it's not that difficult.
If your issue is with laptop screen not working but external monitor does, we have a troubleshooting tips in this guide.
When you want a cable to link your laptop to an extra monitor, you might be limited by the ports on the laptop. However, that shouldn't worry you as you can convert some cables into each other. For instance, you can have an adapter to convert DVI and HDMI cables.
Your choice of cable will also depend on what you want to transmit. For example, if you want to transmit video signals only, a DVI or HDMI cable will help. But if you also want to transmit audio, then an HDMI cable would be the best bet.
An HDMI and DVI cable is also better options for high-quality display than VGA.
An adapter also comes in handy when you don't have matching connections. For instance, if the video output has no matching video input an adapter can be helpful.
Let's have a closer look at each cable and what you can transmit.
Cables and Connectors
VGA is one of the oldest connectors that you can find in the market. They use an HD15 connector to link your laptop. VGA connectors transmit video analog signals, although they can also get a few high frame rates and resolutions. VGA connectors will be a better option if you need to link your monitor with an older computers with VGA ports.
To play audio on your monitor, attach a cable from your computer's headphone jack to the monitor's audio input.
If you want a better and sharper display than what you get with the VGA connector, DVI connectors will be a better option. The DVI connectors carry both an analog signal and digital signals between your laptop and monitor.
HDMI cables offer better and clearer connections than the previous connectors. They can transmit standard, enhanced, and high-definition videos. They also stand out from the rest for transmitting multiple channel digital audio.
Note, if you choose HDMI connectors, you may experience a limitation in the pixel resolution output. The maximum resolution output for an HDMI 1.4 connector is 3820 x 2160p and thirty frames per second.
If you want to go beyond the limitation, you may be forced to buy new hardware or a PC.
HDMI connectors are classified into three categories.
First, you have the standard HDMI that is used for most connections and applications. Secondly, you have the mini HDMI cables that feature a smaller connector and is used in smaller ports such as in high-definition camcorders, tablets, and DSLR cameras.
Lastly, you have the micro HDMI cables that are 50% smaller than the standard HDMI. Micro HDMI cables can link smartphones and other mobile devices with a computer.
Thunderbolt and USB C connectors
Thunderbolt is the brand name for the hardware developed by Apple and Intel. You can use Thunderbolt 1 and 2 with the same connector as the mini DisplayPort on your computer. On the other hand, Thunderbolt 3 uses a USB C port.
USB C ports are useful in transmitting fast data and charging.
You may want to use the thunderbolt port for high-quality displays.
DisplayPort connectors are available as mini DisplayPort and standard size DisplayPort. Version 1.3 of the DisplayPort can carry a video resolution of up to 3840 x 2160p at a 60Hz refresh rate. The DisplayPort also supports 3D video formats.
Now, that you know the different connectors to connect your laptop computer to a monitor, how do you link it?
The process for setting up a second monitor for your laptop may vary depending on your operating system. You may see different settings for Windows monitors and others for Mac.
If your laptop lacks a DisplayPort output and is only equipped with HDMI ports, you can purchase an HDMI to DisplayPort adapter to link it to a monitor with a DisplayPort input.
Setting up a Second Monitor for Windows
After connecting the appropriate wire between a laptop and monitor, make sure you configure Windows to use the secondary display.
Ordinarily, Windows will detect when your monitor is plugged in and turned on. After detecting the video connections, the monitor will then duplicate the content on your laptop screen.
If it doesn't display anything on the second monitor, you can find the menu using the monitor buttons. On the drop down menu, select the correct input as not all monitors switch to a video input with a signal.
After that, click on the Windows logo at the lower-left corner of your screen. Next, right-click on the desktop and select Display settings. Alternatively, you can click start, go to settings, and then System. You'll then get options such as text size and orientation on the menu.
Duplicate or Extend the Displays
How do you duplicate the Windows desktop across the two screens?
First, you can duplicate the content such that the external display will display what is on the laptop's screen. Alternatively, you can extend the desktop to be spread across the two screens.
In the third option, you can display the content only on the laptop display or on the second screen. To find out which one of the two displays will be used, click identify.
If you are making the connection for work purposes, you need to use the "Extend these displays" option. It allows you to spread the entire desktop on the two displays or even multiple displays.
The option allows you to treat every monitor separately. As such, you can run an app on the monitor different from the one on your laptop screen.
However, if the connection between the monitor and the laptop is for watching a video or making a presentation, the "Duplicate" or "Second Screen Only" option would be best. The second screen only option shuts down the first screen display while the duplicate option displays the same content on both screens.
Fine-tuning the Laptop to a Extra Monitor Connections
By default, Windows positions the first screen on the left, and the second one goes to the right. As such, you'll move the cursor from the right-hand side of the display to the left to get to the new screen.
In case you are using them the other way round, then you need to make adjustments.
How do you make the adjustments?
1. Right-click on the desktop and go to "Screen resolution." If you are using Windows 10, the option will appear as "Display settings."
2. Next, a dialogue box will appear with the images of the two screens. Click the images and drag them until you get them to their correct position.
3. If you want to identify which screen is number 1 and 2, click the "Identify" button on the right-hand side of the screen.
Note, Windows doesn't restrict you to left and right set up. You can also choose another monitor setup depending on your preferences such as one that sits on top of the other.
Getting the right resolution
Should you expect to get the same resolution in the new monitor as in the native monitor?
The resolution between the two monitors may change depending on various factors such as the type of graphics card.
The variance can also depend on the specifications of the new monitor, such as the graphics card. Make sure you get a monitor with a 4k resolution for the best quality display. Thus, you minimize the chances of getting distorted, blurred, or stretched images.
Connecting a monitor to an Apple laptop
Setting up a new computer monitor for an Apple laptop is the same as for the Windows one. After connecting the cable to the appropriate port and turning the monitor on, the laptop will automatically detect the monitor.
Then, you can go to the display settings pane and change your display preferences from system preferences.
If the new computer monitor is not automatically detected, go to the display settings and click on "Detect displays" and the monitor will be detected.
What if you find yourself in a situation where you have various connection ports for the cables?
In such a situation, you can use a dual personality cable such as HDMI or an adapter.
Alternatively, you can connect using a USB type C cable for most laptops owners, which transmits fast data, videos, and audio. USB C is also valuable for charging your devices.
If you were lost on how to connect your laptops with an external monitor, here is the guide. You've also learned how to access the menu and the type of cables you need for the connection to work.
1. Can you hook up a monitor to a laptop and use both screens?
A laptop with only a VGA port can still support a twin monitor arrangement as long as it also includes a USB port. A USB to VGA or DVI external video card, as well as a suitable cable to link to a computer monitor, are required.
2. How do I connect my laptop to a monitor using HDMI?
How to Attach a Laptop's HDMI Output to an External Monitor.
- Attach the monitor's HDMI cable to a flat HDMI port on the laptop's right or left side. Ascertain that the other end is connected to the display.
- Attach the monitor to a power outlet and turn it on.
- Configure the Windows display.
3. How do I connect my laptop to a monitor without HDMI?
You may purchase an adaptor or a cable to connect it to your TV's normal HDMI input port. If your laptop does not support Micro HDMI, check to see if it supports DisplayPort, which supports the same digital video and audio streams as HDMI. You may quickly and affordably purchase a DisplayPort/HDMI adapter or cable.
4. Why won't my monitor connect to my laptop?
Examine the signal cable connection between the monitor and the graphics card on the device. Disconnect the signal wire from both ends, wait approximately one minute, and then firmly reattach it. Replace the signal cable to ensure it is not faulty. If the display and graphics card have numerous ports, switch between them.
5. How do I connect 2 HDMI monitors to my laptop?
Occasionally, a computer (often a laptop) will only have one HDMI input port, but you will require two ports to attach two external monitors. In this instance, you can create two HDMI ports by using a'switch splitter' or 'display splitter.