How to Hook Up a Laptop to a Projector

By Ryan Bauer

A laptop computer's display can be expanded to fill an entire wall using a digital projector. This provides a simple method for giving presentations or lectures, where it would be impractical to have everybody in the room gather around a regular computer monitor.Most digital projectors have a VGA input, allowing them to be connected directly to a laptop without the use of expensive adapters. The only thing needed is a male-to-male VGA cable (also called a monitor cable), which can be purchased at most electronics stores. Make sure the cable is long enough to reach from the computer to the projector.

Things You'll Need

  • Male-to-male VGA cable

Step 1

Plug one end of the video cable into the VGA output on the laptop. This is a blue-colored port that is "D" shaped and has three rows of holes that accept pins. The cable will only fit in one direction, so avoid forcing it. Simply reverse the connector if it won't fit. Tighten the finger-screws on either side of the connector to secure it into place.

Step 2

Look around the perimeter of the projector until you find the VGA input. It will look exactly the same as the blue VGA output port on the laptop. It may be hidden beneath a panel or port door. If you have problems locating it, consult your projector's documentation for its location. Once you've found it, connect the other end of the cable to the projector.

Step 3

Turn both the projector and the computer on, and wait for the laptop to finish booting. By default, the laptop won't be transmitting video from the video output, so you will need to switch it to output from that port. Hold down the function key labeled "Fn" and tap F8. This will enable VGA output. If you tap F8 multiple times, you can enable output to both the laptop's LCD and the VGA port. For now, tap it until the laptop's screen goes blank. This ensures the output is enabled.

Step 4

Find the button on the projector that selects the input. This may be done through the remote control depending on the model of projector. Slowly cycle through each input option until you see the laptop's video feed on the screen. If the feed looks blurry, consult your projector's manual to see if a specific video resolution is needed. Depending on the setup, some basic configuration changes may need to be made on the laptop.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your projector only has RCA inputs, you can purchase an RCA-to-VGA adapter at specialty video retailers.