How to Hook Up a Second Monitor to a Laptop

By Christopher Capelle

Laptop computers are one of the best technological innovations. They allow users to work while traveling, or to bring work home with them. However, the biggest drawback of working on a laptop is the lack of real estate on the screen. Fortunately, most manufacturers of computers know this, and give users the option of attaching a second monitor (also known as a display) to their laptop computers. While toting around a second monitor is virtually impossible, having one available where laptop users do the majority of their work is a good thing, and can certainly increase productivity.

Things You'll Need

  • Laptop
  • Monitor
  • VGA or DVI Adapter (for certain Macintosh laptops)

Step 1

Determine what type of connector your laptop has. It could be a VGA, DVI or a proprietary connection, which is the case with some Macintosh laptops, and these require an adapter that will connect it to a VGA or DVI display.

Step 2

Shut down the laptop, and then connect the monitor to it. Turn the monitor on and then reboot the laptop.

Step 3

Open the display settings on the laptop. On a Windows machine, it can be found in the Control Panels. On a Macintosh laptop, the Displays settings is found in the System Preferences.

Step 4

Decide what mode and arrangement you plan on using. You can mirror the displays, so both monitors display the same thing, or you can arrange them to create one long monitor. You can also choose which is your "main" screen with the menus and desktop items, and whether your secondary display is on the right or on the left.

Step 5

Tweak the display preferences to achieve the optimal settings for your particular situation. This includes the resolution settings, the brightness/contrast levels and desktop picture.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use the larger screen for your main work, the smaller screen for your email window.
  • Make your second monitor is placed so it's ergonomically correct, to avoid neck and back problems.