Smart & Connected Life Working From Home 160 160 people found this article helpful How to Add a Second Monitor in Windows Double your screen space with relative ease by Lisa Johnston Writer Lisa Johnston is a former Lifewire writer and an editor who covers computer peripherals and other consumer electronics since 2004. our editorial process LinkedIn Lisa Johnston Updated on March 19, 2020 reviewed by Ryan Perian Lifewire Tech Review Board Member Ryan Perian is a certified IT specialist who holds numerous IT certifications and has 12+ years' experience working in the IT industry support and management positions. our review board Article reviewed on Feb 16, 2020 Ryan Perian The Ultimate Guide to Monitors The Ultimate Guide to Monitors Introduction Monitor Basics All About HD PC Monitors TVs vs. Monitors CRT vs. LCD Monitors Learn About Refresh Rates 3D Computer Displays CRT Monitor Resolution Specifications Why You Need a Second Monitor Add or Connect a Monitor Is Having More Than One Display Useful? Add a Second Monitor to Your Windows Laptop How to Connect Your Computer to Your TV You Can Use Your Old iMac as a Monitor How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor Calibrate It Yourself Why Monitor Calibration Is Essential Adjusting a Monitor's Settings Why Printer Colors Don't Match Monitor Colors Color Gamuts on LCD Monitors Troubleshooting Issues Testing a Monitor That Isn't Working Fix a Second Monitor Not Working Checking for Loose Power Cables How to Degauss a Traditional CRT Monitor Can Burn-In Happen to LCD Monitors? How to Change Refresh Rate in Windows Our Recommendations: Best Monitors The Best Computer Monitors The Best 4K Monitors The Best 27-Inch LCD Monitors The Best 24-Inch LCD Monitors The Best 32-Inch Monitors The Best USB-C Monitors The Best Monitors for Coding The Best Curved Monitors The Best 5K & 8K Computer Monitors The Best Touchscreen Monitors The Best Ultra-Wide Monitors Tweet Share Email Adding a second monitor to your laptop or desktop computer is a straightforward task in the Microsoft Windows environment. Connection Considerations The first step in using a second monitor is getting it physically connected to the computer. First, take a look at which ports your computer has. On laptops, they're usually along the sides, but sometimes, you can find them on the back. Desktops always have them on the back. Figure out what display ports you have. Some might be familiar to you, like HDMI. Others might be entirely alien. Nathaniel Gardner [CC0] Next, take a look at your monitor. Which ports does it have? The ports are usually on the back of the monitor. They're also commonly on the underside of monitors too. Select the right cable to connect your monitor and your PC. VGA and DVI: Older computers may have DVI or VGA ports. These connectors rely on a series of metal pins, which are usually on the cable. The ports, then, have a series of holes to accommodate the pins. VGA is a lower resolution standard definition connection. DVI is capable of basic HD. If you have a newer monitor, you may have a hard time connecting, because support for DVI and VGA has been dropped by most. You may have luck converting from DVI to HDMI, though. HDMI: HDMI is the most widely supported type of display connection. Almost all TVs rely on HDMI and most computer monitors have at least one HDMI port. HDMI might be the ideal option. It's the most widely used by devices, and you shouldn't have a hard time finding a cable. There are multiple types of HDMI ports. Laptop manufacturers may opt for smaller mini and micro HDMI connections to conserve space and build a smaller device. In those cases, you're still working with HDMI, and you can easily find cables with a micro or mini connector on one end and a standard HDMI connection on the other. DisplayPort and USB-C: Things get a little more complicated with DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, and USB-C connections. You won't find these as commonly, but dedicated graphics cards and higher-end laptops may have DisplayPort connections. Relatively recent computer monitors also support DisplayPort. As with HDMI, Mini DisplayPort connections save space on mobile devices, and you can find cables with Mini DisplayPort on one end and standard DisplayPort on the other. You probably know USB-C as the connection on current Android smartphones, but its a fast enough connection to support a monitor. In fact, it's the main option in recent Macbooks. If your computer only offers USB-C video output, consider a monitor that supports USB-C input. Otherwise, purchase a cable with a USB-C connection on one end and either HDMI or DisplayPort on the other. Plug your cable in to both your computer and monitor using a matching pair of ports. Turn your monitor on. Detect the Monitor in Windows Now that your monitor is physically connected to your computer, it's time to configure your Windows operating system to recognize and use the monitor. Each version of Windows has a slightly different process to enable and configure your second monitor. Follow the process for the version of Windows that's running on your PC. If your computer was made any time in the last few years, it's probably running Windows 10. In most cases, Windows will automatically detect and configure your second monitor without any prompting by you. Windows 10 Open the Power User Menu (Win+X) or the Start menu, and select Settings. The Windows Settings app opens. Select System from the window. From the Display section, choose Detect (if you see it) to register the second monitor. There's also a chance that the monitor's already there. Choose Identify below the monitors to see which one is which. Windows displays the monitor's number on each screen. The option Make this my main display, This is my main monitor, or Use this device as the primary monitor 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. However, in some Windows versions, if you right-click or tap-and-hold on the Windows taskbar at the bottom of the screen, you can go into the Properties menu to choose Show taskbar on all displays to get the Start menu, clock, etc. on both screens. You can use the diagram of the monitors to re-arrange them. Select a monitor, and drag it into position relative to the other monitor. 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. Windows 8 and Windows 7 Open the Windows start menu, and select Control Panel. In Control panel, open the Appearance and Personalization option. This is only seen if you're viewing the applets in the default "Category" view (not the "Classic" or icon view). Now, choose Display and then Adjust resolution from the left. Select Detect to register the second monitor, if it isn't already there. Press Identify to see the number associated with each monitor displayed. Select and drag a display in the picture to re-position it in relation to the other one. Change How Your Computer Handles the Second Monitor Windows gives you a few options for how it will handle the second monitor connected to your computer. You can extend your desktop across both monitors, mirror them, or choose to use one and not the other. Windows 10 From the Display setting screen that you arrived at in the previous instructions, scroll down until you see Multiple Displays. Select the drop-down menu directly below Multiple Displays to show your options. The menu will expand to show your choices: Duplicate these displays: Show the same desktop on both monitors.Extend these displays: Stretch the desktop across both monitors, using both and increasing your overall screen size.Show only on 1: Only use monitor 1.Show only on 2: Only use monitor 2. Choose one, and select it. To extend your desktop in Windows Vista, choose to Extend the desktop onto this monitor instead, or In Windows XP, choose the Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor option. A new window opens asking if you want to keep your changes. Confirm to keep the monitor layout you picked, or select Revert to go back to the way it was. Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 From the Screen Resolution page that you access the prior instructions, find the Multiple Displays option. Select the drop-down menu next to Multiple Displays to show the available options. Choose the option you prefer. Extend desktop to this display will stretch your desktop across both screens.