There are many reasons why you may want to connect your laptop to an external screen.
Sometimes it is needed for work, where you require bigger screens or even more than one screen. Working from home is another reason why people are needing to connect their laptops to larger screens more and more nowadays.
Whatever your reason might be, it is a good thing to know, since it can come in handy for so many situations.
If you have the burning question of how to use external monitor with laptop buzzing your mind, then we suggest that you keep on reading, and find out all the ways you can have a bigger screen connected to your laptop.
Our article here will cover all the necessary points. So whether you are a Windows user or an Apple user, either way, you will get your questions answered. And this involves common methods such as wireless ways of connection too!
Now there are some basic ways you should know about before you dive in-depth into how you can connect each specific type of device to an external monitor. A quick read through these will give you an idea of the options you have on hand, and how you can proceed later on.
The HDMI or High-Definition Multimedia Interface is one of the easiest ways you can connect both devices. This wire is used primarily to transport data and information to and from computers, laptops, TVs,etc,
You will surely find at least one HDMI port on your laptop, as most laptops carry them. And for the external monitor, you will most probably find the HDMI port at the back or on the sides.
Other than the HDMI, there are a few other cables you can use to connect your external monitor to a laptop. This is for everyone who does not have an HDMI slot.
One option is to use the small video port, the USB-C, or any of the other DisplayPort ports. If it is an old laptop, and you don’t have any of these, then it will contain VGA, S-Video, or DVI ports.
The DisplayPort resembles the HDMI, with 3 right-angled sharp corners and one corner cut. A Mini DisplayPort on the other hand looks like the regular one, but simply smaller in size.
A USB-C port is tiny and rectangular-shaped with rounded corners. The VGA port is usually blue in color and has a trapezoid shape.
The DVI port is typically white in color, and larger than the HDMI or DisplayPort, and rectangular in shape. And finally, the S-Video port is black and circular in shape.
In the case that your laptop and the external monitor do not possess a similar port for connection, turn to an adapter to get the job done.
Wireless connection is another way for you to connect both devices. This can be done through a technology termed ‘Miracast’. Here, all you have to do is establish a connection between the two devices which support Miracast.
To connect an external display to your Windows laptop, you have to start by locating the ports on each of the devices. You will find the HDMI port, or its many alternatives- DVI, USB-C, VGA, or DisplayPort, depending on h
ow old or new your laptop and external monitor are.
Using either of these, you can physically connect the two devices and then proceed with the next steps.
You will need to activate this external monitor that you connect to, and for this, you will find there is an activation function key. The key has a picture of a monitor on it for easier recognition, but if it does it, then you can check in your manual or the manufacturer’s website.
Now, you can select what you view on this external monitor. Since this is Windows, you can start by pressing the Windows key plus the P key simultaneously, or simply go to “Project Options”. You will be faced with 4 options here.
“PC Screen Only” is the option to go for if you still wish to continue using the laptop’s display. “Duplicate” is the button to select if you wish to view the same content simultaneously on both screens. Here, the resolution of the smaller display will be duplicated on both screens.
“Extend” is the option to choose if you wish to extend the screen and use both as one. This is where you get to drag and drop content from one screen to the other. “Second Screen Only” is the option to choose if you wish to use, the external monitor only.
You start by looking for the ports to connect both the devices first. Now, since you are working with a Mac here, you cannot directly connect to any port on the external monitor, be it an HDMI or something else. So simply get yourself an adapter for the port if you don’t have one already, and you should be good to go.
Once the devices are physically connected, to activate the connection between your MacBook and the external monitor, you can follow a series of simple steps. Do note, that is method will work for macOS x 10.8 or later versions.
Start by going to “System Preferences” and select “Displays”. After this press and hold “Option”, after which you will see a “Detect Displays” button at the bottom right corner of your screen. Click this, and it will start looking for any external displays which may be present.
If you want to continue using the external monitor while closing the laptop’s lid, you have to ensure the laptop is still running. Otherwise, the laptop will turn off and so will everything you see on the external monitor.
To do this go to the Control Panel, then Hardware and Sound, then Power Options. Here you will find “Choose what closing the lid does”. Under its dropdown select “when I close the lid”, followed by “Do nothing” and then save changes.
If the primary monitor’s screen is broken, then an external monitor will undoubtedly work. As long as the issue is physical, and not of hardware, it will work.
But if there is a problem with the video hardware or there are malfunctioning components, then there are low chances of the external display working.
After successfully connecting your laptop to an external screen, you have to configure Windows to be able to use both screens individually and simultaneously.
For this, right-click on “Windows”, then “Display Settings”. Here you will be faced with multiple options, where you can find “Extend” as an option, and select it if you wish to extend the screen across both devices.
You do this by going to “Settings”, then “System”, then “Display”. The PC will automatically detect both the monitors, but in case it does not, simply select “Detect”. Here you will find the “Multiple Displays” section, and pick what you wish to be displayed across both the screens and finish by saving your changes.
One thing you must know is that all modern laptops are capable of connecting to another monitor.
Some involve direct methods, some require more wires and adapters, and some don’t require any wires at all. The methods might vary, but what’s important is that you find out how to use external monitor with laptop.
This way you can get a lot of use out of your laptop right at home, which you otherwise cannot. Be it for entertainment or work, this surely is a shortcut everyone should know.
About Dror Wettenstein
Dror Wettenstein is a software engineer and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in the industry. He is the founder of TechTreeRepeat, a company that enables technical writers to publish their work faster and share it with readers across the globe. Dror has a master’s degree in computer science from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in physics from UC Irvine.
When he’s not working on software projects, Dror enjoys writing articles and essays on various topics. He also likes playing guitar and spending time with his wife and two young children.