Learn to Set up a Projector and Laptop for Presentations

Use a Projector as a Laptop Monitor for Large Groups

Laptop with Projector
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Knowing how to properly set up a projector and laptop while traveling is important for mobile professionals. You should know how to do this yourself so that you can get things going quickly and effectively at all times of the day.

Even if the projector and laptop have been setup in advance for you, if you know what to check before your presentation you will know that everything will work properly and what to do should something malfunction during the presentation.

Proper setup and testing insures that everyone will view your presentation as you intended.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Varies

Setting up a Laptop and Projector for Presentations

  1. Make sure the laptop and projector are both turned off before you start trying to make any connections. Turning off a laptop can be done through the software and is pretty straightforward. With a projector, there's most likely a power button on the top or front of the device, but if you can't find one, just unplug it from the wall.

  2. Connect either end of the video cable to both the laptop and the projector. It doesn't matter which end you connect to either device; just connect one end to the project's "In" port and the other into the laptop's external monitor port.

  3. Take a minute to ensure that both ends are securely connected, and tighten if necessary. A loose connection at either end will prevent you from displaying your presentation, or might shut the video off randomly. Use a screwdriver or small pliers to tighten the connectors, or just make sure both ends are pushed in as far as possible if there aren't tightening pieces (HDMI and other cables can't be screwed in like some VGA and DVI cables can).

  4. If your projector has a mouse for remote control, connect the cable to the laptop's mouse port and then connect the other end to the Projector Mouse/Com port. If your projector uses an infrared remote, make sure the USB adapter is in place and that the devices are lined up correctly for the signal to be sent and received.

  5. Connect the audio cable included with the projector to the Audio Out on the laptop and Audio In on the projector. Make sure these connections are tight. Some projector/laptop setups don't need an audio cable if both devices support HDMI (which carries both audio and video).

  6. Turn on both the laptop and the projector, and then double-check that the connections have been properly secured. 


  • Always run through your presentation to make sure it looks the way you want and that sound (if used) is set to an acceptable level and works properly. You probably want the sound to be louder than normal so that it'll be heard as the room fills with people.
  • In the event of a power outage, you might think about being prepared enough to have battery backup handy for the laptop and projector.
  • See our hand-picked list of the best mini projectors or this list of the best 4K and 1080p projectors.

What You Need

  • Laptop
  • Projector and remote control
  • Audio and video cables
  • Power Cords and power adapters
  • Extension cords
  • Extra batteries
  • Copy of your presentation on the laptop hard drive
  • Copies of the presentation on removable media and extra blank media
  • The correct number of copies of handouts for your presentation
  • Screwdrivers and small pliers