How to Use a Laptop As a Second Monitor on a Network

By Stephen A. Powell

Having a second monitor connected to your computer can be a great convenience. However, purchasing an additional monitor can be expensive. Fortunately, doing so may also be unnecessary. You can have the benefits of an additional monitor if you own a laptop that is on the same network or Internet connection as your desktop.

Things You'll Need

  • Desktop computer with monitor
  • Laptop computer

PC Laptop Instructions

Step 1

Right-click anywhere on your desktop computer’s Desktop background and click the “Properties” option. Click the “Settings” tab in the window that pops up.

Step 2

Drag the monitor-shaped icon marked “2” down to the general positioning of your laptop as it relates to your desktop monitor, or “1.” For example, if your laptop is below your Desktop monitor and just to the right of it, drag the “2” icon to the bottom right of your “1” icon.

Step 3

Click “Yes” when a prompt shows up that asks if you would like to enable monitor “2.”

Step 4

Check the box marked “Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor,” then click the “Apply” button.

Mac Laptop Instructions

Step 1

Go to the “System Preferences” option on your Mac laptop. This is located under the apple tab in your menu bar.

Step 2

Choose the “Displays” option.

Step 3

Push the “Detect Displays” button if your laptop has not already recognized your desktop monitor.

Step 4

Select the “Arrangement” tab. Reposition the displays to represent where the desktop and Mac laptop are in relation to each other.

Tips & Warnings

  • Click “Identify” while in the “Settings” tab for Windows monitor connection to determine which monitor is “1” or “2” if it is not immediately clear to you.
  • Choose which monitor you would like to be the primary by selecting its number--“1” or “2”--and checking the box marked “Use this device as the primary monitor." Click “Apply” to put the change into effect.
  • Save the monitor setup as a profile in your video driver to avoid having to configure your arrangement every time you wish to connect the desktop and laptop.
  • Make sure your laptop is on the same wireless network or LAN as your desktop before attempting to connect the devices this way.