How to Connect a Dell Laptop to a Monitor

See your Dell desktop on a bigger screen

What to Know

  • Identify the video ports on your computers (DVI, HDMI, etc.) and connect your laptop to the monitor using the appropriate cable.
  • Go to Settings > System > Display to adjust the video settings for each display.
  • If your computers don't have compatible video display ports, you need to use a converter cable.

This article explains how to connect a Dell laptop to a monitor, such as the Dell Professional P2717H 27-Inch monitor. Depending on your Dell, you may have a few options.

How to Connect a Monitor to a Dell Laptop

Follow these steps to hook up your Dell laptop to an external monitor:

  1. Go to the Dell Drivers and Download page to get the latest graphics drivers to make sure your video is optimized. The website should automatically detect your laptop model, so select it under This PC to get the latest drivers if your PC isn't already up-to-date.

    This PC on the Dell Drivers and Download page
  2. Identify the video ports on your laptop and monitor. Dell laptops support a variety of video connection standards, including:

  3. Find the cable you need, then connect one end to your Dell laptop and the other end to the monitor. Since the cables' ends are identical, it doesn't matter which one goes into which device.

    If your laptop has a USB-C port, you can find converter cables that will allow you to connect to the monitor's HDMI port. There are also HDMI-to-DVI and VGA-to-HMDI converters.

  4. To switch between the built-in display and the external monitor, use the keyboard shortcut Fn+8. Press Fn+8 again to see your video display on both screens, and press Fn+8 a third time to switch back to just your Dell.

  5. Configure the display resolution, font size, and color settings. In Windows 10, go to Settings > System > Display to optimize each monitor's video settings.

    Display settings in Windows 10.

Can My Dell Laptop Connect to an External Monitor?

The motherboards in all Dell laptops have a built-in graphics card adapter port, which allows you to display your computer's desktop on an external screen. Most external monitors are compatible with Dell laptops; you don't need a Dell brand monitor.

If your monitor and laptop have multiple compatible video ports, DisplayPort is the best option, followed closely by HDMI. DVI, VGA, and S-Video can only transmit video; the sound will come from your laptop, not the monitor.

The steps for hooking up a Dell laptop to a monitor are mostly the same as connecting a laptop to a TV or connecting a laptop to a projector.

Switch Between the Monitor and Laptop Display

The keyboard shortcut Fn+8 is the quickest way to switch between displays, but if that doesn't work, you'll have to do it manually.

In Windows 10, go to Settings > System > Display, then select Detect under Multiple Displays. You'll then be able to switch between screens.

Detect under Multiple Displays in Display Settings.

Some Dell monitors have an input select button you can press to switch between video inputs.

  • How can you close the laptop and just use the monitor?

    In Windows 10, you can choose what happens when you close your monitor lid by right-clicking the Battery icon and selecting Power Options. Select Choose what closing the lid does from the menu on the left, then go to the drop-down menus for When I close the lid and pick Do nothing.

  • How can you use a laptop as a monitor for the Nintendo Switch?

    You can connect your laptop to a Nintendo Switch using a capture card like the Elgato HD60 HDMI. Plug the Switch's HDMI cable into the capture card, then use a USB cable to connect the capture card to your laptop. Open the software that came with it and you should see the Switch's screen there. Put the capture software into fullscreen mode so the games you play take up the entire screen.

  • How do you connect a monitor to a laptop and use both screens?

    Using Windows 10, you can get your laptop to recognize dual monitors by going to Start > Settings > System > Display. Under the Multiple Displays section, choose how you want your desktop to display across the screens, then select Keep Changes. If both monitors aren't showing up, select Detect.

  • How can you use a monitor as a laptop for a PS4?

    You can use Sony's Remote Play feature to stream games onto your PC. It requires a good broadband connection, the free Remote Play app, a DualShock or DualSense controller, and a compatible game. Both your console and laptop need to be connected to the same network.

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