How to Switch to an External Monitor on a Dell Laptop

By Ty Arthur

Your Dell laptop includes a graphics card adapter port built directly into the motherboard. You can use the port to connect the laptop to an external device, which can be useful for displaying images on your computer to a larger audience. Once you have the correct type of cable for the port on your laptop, it is a simple process to switch between the displays. All Dell laptops come from the factory with a feature that lets you toggle between monitors by pressing two keyboard keys.

Things You'll Need

  • S-Video, VGA or DVI cable
  • External monitor

Step 1

Check to see if your specific Dell laptop model has an S-Video port, VGA port or DVI port. Check the ports on the back of the external device to which you want to connect, such as an LCD monitor or television set, and find out which type of port it uses.

Step 2

Acquire a corresponding cable. Connect one end of the cable to the port on the Dell laptop and the other end to the port on the external monitor.

Step 3

Press the "FN" and "F8" keys at the same time to switch the display to the external monitor. Press the keys together a second time to show your computer display on the external monitor and the laptop's LCD screen at the same time.

Step 4

Press the keys a third time to switch back to displaying images only on the Dell laptop's LCD screen.

Step 5

Open the Start menu if the "FN" and "F8" keyboard combination has been changed and you no longer know the correct combination. Click "Control Panel" and select "Personalization."

Step 6

Click "Display Options." Select "Identify Monitors" to locate the external monitor. Click the drop-down menu and choose the external monitor to switch the display.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are using Windows XP instead of Windows Vista, you don't need to choose "Personalization" first. Simply choose "Display" in the "Control Panel" menu.