How To Connect Multiple Monitors To Your Laptop

Docking station with laptop and two monitors

Image: Kensington

Written by: Jay H.

Laptops are an excellent choice for working on the go, but their small screen sizes can be limiting. Thankfully, you can easily connect one, two, or more extra monitors to your laptop to give you the screens you need to help with your workload. Let’s go over your options for connecting multiple monitors to your laptop.

Option 1: Plug-In Directly To Laptop

If you have a Windows laptop, you may be able to plug monitors directly into your laptop without adapters. Check the sides of your notebook for monitor inputs and note which connection type they use. Most modern laptops use either HDMI, DisplayPort, or USB Type-C. If your laptop has inputs that match your monitor, that’s great! Simply buy the connection cable you need, plug one end into the monitor and the other into the laptop, plug the power into the monitor, and you’re set! If your monitor doesn’t automatically display your screen, you may have to use your monitor’s controls to change the input manually.

Monitor input types

Monitor port types | Image: Tripp Lite

If the inputs don’t match, your laptop doesn’t have monitor inputs, or this isn’t quite the setup you were hoping for, scroll down for more options.

Option 2: Docking Station

One option if you use your laptop as your main work computer is to get a docking station. A docking station essentially lets you attach other devices to your laptop, like extra monitors, speakers, keyboards, and printers, and use your laptop just like a desktop computer. The benefit of a docking station is that you can easily transition between on-the-go and office work with only one connection.

Instead of plugging your monitors into your laptop, you connect your laptop and monitors into the docking station. So, if you use a laptop as your primary workstation, a docking station may be an option for you to consider.

Configuring Your Setup

Extend Or Duplicate Your DisplayWindows Project options including PC screen only, Duplicate, Extend, and Second screen only

Assuming you have connected your monitor to your laptop and have it powered up, you now have a few choices to make. First, you can choose to extend your display or duplicate it in Windows settings. Press WIN + P on Windows 8 or Windows 10 to open up the Projects window, then choose between extending or duplicating your display. You’ll likely want to use the Extend option since it acts as a second screen. The Duplicate option is useful when you’re making a presentation or projecting a screen.

If you’re using Windows 7, you’ll have to take different steps to extend your display. Right-click on your desktop, then click Screen resolution. From the window, choose Extend these displays from the Multiple displays drop-down options.

Changing The Position

If you find your screens are “backwards” (the right one appearing on the left and vice versa), you can easily adjust this in your settings. Right-click on your desktop and go to Screen resolution (Windows 7) or Display settings (Windows 10). Then click and drag the numbered screen icons that appear in the correct position. If you’re unsure which screen is which number, click Identify, and it will display the numbers on each screen. When you’re happy with your configuration, click Apply.

Something to note is that you aren’t limited to left and right configurations. For instance, if you wanted your monitor to sit above your laptop, you could set one screen above the other.

Display settings in Windows for configuring laptop display

Solving Input Issues

If your monitor’s inputs do not match your laptop’s, don’t panic. You can purchase an adapter for virtually any connection type. For instance, if your laptop has DisplayPort, but your monitor only has DVI and VGA, you can buy a DisplayPort-to-DVI or DisplayPort-to-VGA adapter.

If you have a newer Apple Macbook, you likely only have USB Type-C sockets. If your Macbook only has one USB Type-C input, you’ll need a multi-adapter so you can still charge your computer or plug other devices into it.

Upgrade Your Laptop Setup

If you need help with configuring your setup, reach out to us at Design2Web IT today. We can get you the setup you need for maximizing your productivity and improving your work experience.

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