How to Hook Up a Laptop to a Monitor and Keyboard

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Laptops running Windows auto-detect keyboards and monitors.

Most modern laptops are powerful enough to replace a desktop computer. This is because they use processors and memory of equal power, and they now possess large hard drives of 250 gigabytes or more. Yet some users still prefer the use of a larger, external monitor and an external keyboard. You do not need a docking station or any other special equipment to hook up regular, desktop peripherals to a laptop. Just plug them in, tweak a couple settings and you are good to go.


Step 1

Locate the Video Graphics Array (VGA) or Digital Video Interface (DVI) port on your laptop. To plug a DVI cable into a laptop with only a VGA port, you must use an adapter. A VGA port is identifiable as a three-row, 15-hole port that is often color-coded blue. The DVI port, if your laptop has one, is identifiable as a port with three rows of 18 holes total, plus one flat or cross-shaped hole on the right side, depending on the DVI type. The DVI port is often color-coded white.


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Step 2

Plug the external monitor's cable into a VGA or DVI port. Windows will automatically detect that a second screen is present, and an options screen will appear. If this does not happen, right-click on the desktop and choose "Graphics Properties." Differences between laptops exist, but generally, it will ask you if you want to extend or duplicate your laptop's screen onto the external monitor, or if you want to use the external monitor only. Choose your settings and click "Apply" to set them. When you disconnect the external monitor, your computer will go back to its usual screen settings.


Step 3

Locate an unused Universal Serial Bus (USB) port, which is identifiable as a small, rectangular hole on the side of your laptop. Next to any USB port, you should see a small, trident-like icon. Plug your keyboard into the port. Windows will automatically detect the new keyboard, and from that point on, you can use the keyboard as you would with a desktop computer. Laptop keyboards do not automatically become disabled when an external keyboard is connected, so you can use both at the same time.


Step 4

Click on the "Start" button and then click on "Control Panel" to open it. Double-click on "Power Options" and then click on "Choose what closing the lid does" on the left menu. Click on the drop-down box on the "Plugged in" side and select "Do nothing." Now you can close the lid and use your laptop using only external inputs and the monitor.