How to Connect Three Monitors to a Laptop

You will likely need a dock no matter which configuration you choose

What to Know

  • While most laptops made in the last five years will support dual screens, three screens is a bit less common. 
  • Only some Macs will support three monitors (the M1 Macs only support up to two).
  • Not all graphics cards and docks will support all configuration of monitors.

This article explains how to add three monitors to a laptop. The instructions apply to Windows 11 and Windows 10.

How to Connect Three Monitors to a Windows Laptop

Whether you want to use your laptop’s screen as a monitor or attach three more, separate monitors, the instructions are essentially the same. You’re really only limited by the number and type of ports that you have.

You will likely need a dock no matter which configuration you choose as few laptops have more than one port to connect additional monitors.

Follow these steps:

  1. Find the name of your graphics card and check its documentation to ensure it supports three monitors.

    Some factory graphics cards that come standard with laptops, such as many Intel integrated graphics products, will only support a specific configuration of monitors in some circumstances.

  2. Connect the dock to your laptop. It will usually configure itself automatically, or software to configure it will be included.

  3. Turn off your laptop and connect your monitors to their appropriate ports, plug them in, and set their orientation. If you’re not using your laptop’s screen, you may need to connect one monitor to a port on your laptop directly, depending on the dock.

  4. Turn on your laptop, and check to see if the displays are all active. In most cases, the monitors will be automatically detected and default to mirroring the main screen. If not, check all connections and plugs before moving on.

  5. Open Settings > System > Display. You will see a box with the three representations of your monitors. If one or more monitors are not detected, scroll down to Multiple Displays and click Detect. If there's still no activity, you should troubleshoot your monitor.

    Display and Detect in Windows 10 settings
  6. Click “Identify.” Numbers will appear in the corner of each monitor. Drag and drop each box to reflect your monitor setup. For example, if you have Monitor 2 on your left, Monitor 1 in the middle, and Monitor 3 on your right, the boxes should be arranged in that order.

    Remember, the computer has no way of knowing where your monitors are, so if, for example, you had Monitor 2 above Monitor 1, but configured it with Monitor 2 on your left, you'd have to move your mouse to the left off your primary screen in order to get it onto Monitor 2.

  7. Designate the monitor you’ll be using as your primary monitor by double-clicking on your primary screen, scrolling down to Multiple Displays, and clicking Make This My Main Display. This will ensure it always starts with that monitor as your primary desktop.

    Make this my main display in Windows 10 display settings

    With the other monitors, select them and configure their resolution and orientation. If possible, match the resolutions between the three monitors so you can easily transition between them.

How to Extend a Display Across Three Monitors

If you want to extend your display across all monitors, scroll down to “Multiple Displays” in Settings > System > Display and select “Extend Display.” You can also use this option to mirror your display, if you're showing something on the monitor in a presentation, for example, or use it to temporarily disable monitors without unplugging them.

Can a Mac Support Three Monitors?

Certain Macs can support three monitors, but the newest Macs using Apple's M1 processor only support up to two monitors.

Are There Alternatives If a Laptop Won’t Support Three Monitors?

Connecting multiple laptops isn’t the only way to add more digital workspace; one of these solutions might be a better option for you.

  • Use a tablet with multitasking capabilities for personal functions such as music playback and checking private messages.
  • Connect your laptop to a 4K television, or use a tool such as a Chromecast to wirelessly mirror your desktop.
  • Depending on your laptop, you may be able to connect an external graphics card to a USB 3.0 port to drive three monitors.
  • How do I connect three monitors to my desktop computer?

    To connect three monitors to a desktop PC, use video cables to connect each monitor to your PC one by one, then go to the Display settings to set up your extended display.

  • Can I use multiple monitors with Microsoft Office?

    Yes. If you have more than one screen set up, you can automatically use Microsoft Office on multiple monitors. This includes Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. In older versions of Office, you may need to go to File > Options > Advanced Show All Windows in Taskbar.

  • What's the difference between HDMI and DisplayPort?

    HDMI and DisplayPort are two different video connection technologies. DisplayPort is the standard for connecting computers to displays, but an HDMI cable can suffice in a pinch. There are also HDMI-to-DisplayPort converters if you need them.

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