Dual monitors: How to connect two monitors to one computer

November 6, 2011 | By | 0 Comments How to set up two monitors

Dual monitors: How to connect two monitors to one computer

You can never have enough screen space. Instead of buying a larger computer monitor, you can buy an inexpensive second monitor or make use of a spare one and connect it to your computer (if you’re using Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP)—instantly doubling your desktop space with dual monitors.

Dual monitor setup checklist

There’s a good chance you already have everything you need to set up your second monitor.

Click here to view the checklist.

Know your equipment

The following table provides more information about the components for setting up an extra monitor.

Click here to view the equipment table.

How to set up your second monitor

Connect the monitor cables

When you’re ready to connect the monitor cable to the connector on your computer, make sure the monitor is plugged in and turned on. Your computer should automatically detect the second monitor, although you may have to restart your computer first. If you’re using Windows XP, you’ll need to enable Dualview.



Dual monitor setup map

When your computer detects the monitor, it should also automatically detect and apply the display settings appropriate for the monitor.

Configure your displays

You may want to adjust display settings yourself, as described in the following articles.

The settings shown here are for Windows 7, but they are basically the same as those available for Windows Vista and Windows XP. If necessary, you can drag the monitor icons so that they are arranged in the same way as the monitors on your desk. ClickIdentify to verify which monitor is 1 and which monitor is 2. You’ll see the numbers appear on your monitors.

Control Panel Screen Resolution window

Under Multiple displays, you can also adjust what you see on the second monitor. You have the following choices:

Extend your displays. This spreads your desktop over both monitors and lets you drag items between the two screens. This is how most people use two monitors, and it’s the default setting for desktop computers. After your monitor is set up, you can use your mouse to grab the title bar (the top portion) of a window and drag it to your new display. If a window does not move when you drag it, double-click the title bar first, and then drag it.

Duplicate your displays. This displays the same desktop on both monitors. For a laptop, this is the default setting. This is useful if you’re giving a presentation with your laptop connected to a projector or large monitor.

Show your desktop on only one monitor. This is most commonly used with a laptop if you want to keep your laptop screen blank after you connect to a large desktop monitor.

When you disconnect the additional monitor, the original display settings are restored to your primary display. In addition, all open files and program windows are moved to the primary display. The next time that you connect the same monitor, the Windows operating system automatically applies the display settings that you used the last time that you connected this monitor.

Troubleshooting: Normally, the process of setting up and using a second monitor is seamless and automatic. However, because it involves hardware and software from multiple sources, you may need to troubleshoot problems and make adjustments. For example, if your computer fails to detect the second monitor, first make sure it’s plugged in and turned on, and then, in the display settings, click Detect. Or your computer might not support multiple displays. Visit Microsoft Update, click Custom, and install any available hardware updates. You may also need to visit your computer manufacturer’s website to install an updated display driver. Or you may need to install an additional display adapter. Read this troubleshooting article for Windows Vista which also includes tips that pertain to other versions of Windows.

You’ll find that having two monitors can forever change the way you work with your computer. Be creative and experiment with the sizing of application windows and what information you can keep in constant view while doing multiple tasks. If you’re looking for more ideas on what to do with all of the extra viewing space you will have, read the article, Work and play better with multiple monitors.

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