How to Use a Monitor With a Laptop

By Techwalla Computers Editor

Laptops usually have a video connection that can connect to a single external monitor to increase screen size and create better resolution. You can also connect to multiple monitors to create an extended desktop. Here's how you can use an external monitor with a laptop.

Things You'll Need

  • Special adapter (if required)
  • VGA or DVI cable

Connect a Laptop to an External Monitor

Step 1

Check whether your monitor has a DVI (digital) or VGA (analog) port, both of which are generally built in. Contact your vendor if your laptop does not have either. In this case, you can use a special adapter to connect the external monitor. These adapters are model specific and should be bought directly from the vendor.

Step 2

Connect one end of the DVI or VGA cord to the DVI or VGA port of your laptop and the other end to the monitor. Your laptop should automatically identify the external monitor as a new hardware device.

Step 3

Most laptops will show the desktop on both screens by default, which is known as the mirror view. You can use function keys with common combination such as Fn + F5, Fn + F3, Fn + F8 and Fn + F9 to toggle between the two screens. Refer to the laptop's user manual for the right key combination to toggle between the displays. Alternatively, with many laptops you can also switch to the extended desktop mode. This means your desktop screen will be stretched across both the monitors. Refer to your user manual to switch to this mode.

Tips & Warnings

  • For best results, choose an external monitor that is the same brand as your laptop.