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How do I hook up an external display to my Windows laptop?

Answer: In order to hook up a CRT monitor or flat-screen display to your laptop, you first need to make sure that your laptop can support an external display. It must have a VGA, DVI, mini-VGA, or mini-DVI port on the back or the side of the case. If it has a mini-VGA or mini-DVI port, it probably also comes with an adapter cable that will allow you to connect a regular VGA or DVI monitor to the computer.

VGA is a 15-pin connection, shaped like a trapezoid. DVI is a 24-pin connection, and is shaped more like a rectangle. Once you've determined what kind of video output your laptop supports, you can connect the appropriate monitor to it. DVI may support a VGA display with a DVI to VGA adapter, but not vice versa.

Once you have connected the display, open the Windows Displays Control Panel. Then click the Settings tab and choose the new display from the drop-down menu under the word "Display." Click the box at the bottom of the window that says "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor." After you check this box and hit Apply, you should have two desktops available, effectively doubling your workspace. You can then drag the monitor icons in the top part of the window to match the physical set up of your screens. Use the "Screen resolution" slider in the same window to increase or decrease the resolution of the secondary display. Once everything looks the way you want it, click OK and you can experience the joy of working with two displays.

Published: May 23, 2005 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center