How to Run Multiple Monitors From a Laptop

By Nat Fondell

One of the best ways to improve your available work organization space is to add additional monitors to your laptop. Running multiple monitors at once can really improve the ease with which you can see the parts of your various projects in high detail. This approach is extremely valuable for graphic designers, video editors, sound editors, security personnel and anyone else who requires the viewing of multiple project areas or working areas at the same time.

Things You'll Need

  • Monitor cable extensions
  • Monitor cable splitter

Step 1

Position the monitors in a way that will allow you to easily view all the screens from your chair. Include a space in the center of the monitors for your laptop, as you will still be using it for your input. If desired, you can also run keyboard and mouse extensions from your laptop, and keep the computer out of the way from your monitors.

Step 2

Connect the various monitors together using the monitor cable splitter. Ensure that you find a splitter that actually splits the signal for concurrent use, rather than a splitter that merely provides you with two copies of the same screen and no accessibility. The monitors should be connected with the splitters, and the final cable should lead back to the laptop's monitor output port.

Step 3

Open your "Control Panel" if using Windows, and access the "Display" section, or "Appearance and Themes" and then "Display." If using Apple computers, open "System Preferences" and then "Displays."

Step 4

Adjust the settings on the main Display screen. If necessary, open the "Settings" tab within the "Display" menu and select one of the monitors, checking the box that designates it as the primary monitor.

Step 5

Toggle back and forth between the various monitors and monitor settings by using your keyboard shortcuts. Press the "Function" key and "F4" to switch between viewing on your main computer, on your other screens, or being split between both screens. You can also switch between the screens by pressing the "Windows" key, the "Shift" key and either the left or right arrow to scroll through your monitors. You can adjust the preferences by using the "Settings" or "Control Panel" under the "Keyboard" section.

Tips & Warnings

  • Place the largest monitor in your system in the center of the monitor arrangement, as this is likely to be the natural eye position for you during your work.
  • Some computers have built-in functionality hardware ports for multiple monitors, so you may be able to install two or three monitors directly to the computer using adapter connectors.
  • When constructing viewing stations using large, expensive monitors, it can be a good idea to lock them together using a computer cable lock to discourage theft.