How to Connect a Second Screen to a Laptop

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The process of connecting a laptop to an auxiliary monitor is relatively simple. The hardest part is getting the laptop to recognize that it's been plugged into a peripheral, and even that part isn't really very hard. Use the following steps to cleanly and easily hook up your laptop to a second screen, be it a monitor or projector.

Things You'll Need

  • Laptop
  • Monitor or projector
  • Connecting cables

Using a Second Monitor as Your Primary Screen

  • Plug your connecting cable into the monitor if necessary. In many cases, the monitor already has a connecting cable hardwired into it.

  • Plug your connecting cable into the laptop. Most laptops have a large pin port for this purpose, although they should accommodate other cable types.

  • Power up the laptop.

  • Power up the monitor.

  • Change the settings on your laptop to send video information to the second screen. In most laptops, this is a matter of hitting the control key and a number or function key simultaneously.

  • If the hotkeys don't work, right click on your desktop. Click "Properties". This will open up your Display Settings so you can manually select the exterior monitor.

Using the Second Monitor and Primary Monitor Simultaneously

  • Attach the second monitor as above.

  • Right-click on the desktop. Click "Properties". When the Display Properties window comes up, click the "Settings" tab.

  • Right click for the external display (usually the option marked "2"). Click "Attached".

  • If there isn't a check in the box next to "Extend my Windows Desktop", click on the box to check it.

  • Depending on your version and drivers, you may or may not get a pop up asking whether or not to enable the monitor. Click "Yes" or "OK" if this happens.

  • Click "Apply" to start up the second monitor, then "OK" to exit the Display Settings.

Tips & Warnings

  • In many business environments, wireless connectivity makes this process very different and (if possible) even easier. In such an environment, check with the technology department on how to set up.

References

  • Interview with Sydney Wight, Office Manager, American Income Life, Eugene, OR
  • Interview with Jamie Rivers, Computer Consultant, Radiant Tiger, Vancouver, WA
  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
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