How to Add a Second Monitor in Windows

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Why You Might Want a Dual Monitor Setup

Business man working on computer in office
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Is a single monitor just not doing the trick for you? Maybe giving a presentation with people peering over your shoulder at a 12-inch laptop screen just isn't going to cut it.

Whatever your reason for wanting a second monitor attached to your laptop, it's an easy task to complete. These steps will walk you through how to add a second monitor to your laptop.

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Verify That You Have The Correct Cables For Your Monitor and Computer

USB and other plugins
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To start, you should first make sure that you have the appropriate cables for the job. It's important to realize that you have to connect a video cable from the monitor to the laptop, and it has to be the same type of cable. 

Ports on your computer will either be classified as DVI, VGA, HDMI or Mini DisplayPort. The picture above shows VGA on the left and an HDMI port on the right. What you have to do is connect the second monitor to the laptop using the same connection type.

So, for example, if your monitor has a VGA connection, and so does your laptop, then use a VGA cable to connect the two. If HDMI, then use an HDMI cable to connect the monitor to the HDMI port on the laptop. The same applies for any port and cable you may have.

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Open Control Panel to Make Changes to the Display Settings

Using Control Panel in Windows, open the Display > Screen Resolution settings to open the screen that lets you change the display settings.

Click Identify or Detect to register the second monitor.

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Extend the Desktop to the Second Screen

Next to the menu called "Multiple Displays," choose the option called Extend desktop to this display.

This option lets you move the mouse and windows from the main screen onto the second one, and vice versa. It's literally extending the screen real estate across two monitors instead of just the regular one. You can think of it as a single large monitor that's simply split into two segments.

If the two screens are using two different resolutions, one of them will appear larger than the other in the preview window. You can either adjust the resolutions to be the same or drag the monitors up or down on the screen so that they match up on the bottom.

Click or tap Apply to complete the step so that the second monitor will act as an extension to the first.

Tip: The option called "Make this my main display" lets you swap which screen should be considered the main screen. It's the main screen that will have the Start menu, taskbar, clock, etc.

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Duplicate the Desktop on the Second Screen

If you'd rather have the second monitor duplicate the main screen so that both monitors show the same thing all the time, choose the "duplicate" option instead.

Again, make sure you choose Apply so that the changes stick.