Dual monitor computer setup: Set up dual monitors on Windows

Set up dual monitors on Windows

Windows 11 Windows 10 More…Less


To get your PC to recognize multiple monitors:

Make sure your cables are connected properly to the new monitors, then press Windows logo key + P to select a display option.

If you need more help, here’s what to do: 

  1. Select Start , then open Settings .

  2. Under System , select Display . Your PC should automatically detect your monitors and show your desktop. If you don’t see the monitors, select Multiple displays , then Detect.

  3. Once you’ve chosen your setup, select Apply.

You can change the resolution of your displays. However, we suggest using the recommended resolution to get the most out of your displays.


Learn how to use multiple monitors in Windows

Open display settings

To get your PC to recognize multiple monitors:

Make sure your cables are connected properly to the new monitors, then press Windows logo key  + P to select a display option.

If you need more help, here’s what to do: 

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  1. Select Start > Settings > System > Display. Your PC should automatically detect your monitors and show your desktop. If you don’t see the monitors, select Detect.

  2. In the Multiple displays section, select an option from the list to determine how your desktop will display across your screens.

  3. Once you’ve selected what you see on your displays, select Keep changes.

You can change the resolution of your displays. However, we suggest using the recommended resolution to get the most out of your displays.


Learn how to use multiple monitors in Windows 10

Open Display settings


How to: Dual-monitor setup on a Windows PC

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Updated

A must for multitaskers.

By Katherine Stevenson

PCWorld Dec 3, 2022 6:00 am PST

Image: Dell

Even a generous 24-inch monitor can feel cramped when you’ve got multiple windows open on your desktop (and who doesn’t?). It’s much worse if you’re confined to a laptop screen. Fortunately, it’s simple enough to add a second monitor to your PC setup and spread out. 

Note: While the monitors we discuss below are 1080p, our article about 1080p vs. 4K  monitors can help you determine what approach to take for your own dual-monitor setup; you should also check out our comparison of ultrawide monitors vs. a dual-monitor setup to learn the pros and cons of each. Learn why now is the right time to upgrade your monitor. And if you are in the market for a second display, check out our recent review of the Monoprice 24-inch CrystalPro. This 1080p IPS monitor is priced right, at around $150. It’s also got a thin, discreet bezel that’s ideal for a dual-display setup.

mentioned in this article

MonoPrice 24-inch Crystal Pro 44029

Any modern desktop or laptop PC has the graphics capability to run dual displays. All that’s required is a second monitor. Prices for displays have gone up the past few years, but good deals can still be found. See, for example, PCWorld’s review of the Acer K24HYL 24-inch ISP display—it focuses on the features you should care about to hit $150.

mentioned in this article

Acer K242HYL

If you’re determined to get the price even lower, HP’s V20 HD+ Monitor comes in at slightly less, with a 19.5-inch diagonal screen using TN technology, which offers faster response times but less clarity off-axis. Another good option is Dell’s SE2222H, which steps you up to a 22-inch screen that features slim bezels, nice for minimizing the disruption between your two screens. If you want an even bigger screen (although the same 1920×1080 resolution), Dell’s S2721HN 27-inch IPS panel is a fine option at $190.

Today’s monitors typically come with some combination of VGA, DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort ports. In other words, you’ll have a couple options for how to connect the monitor to your PC. While its common for VGA and DVI cables to come included with the display, you may have to purchase your HDMI or DisplayPort cable separately if you go that route. Those can be easily purchased on Amazon. 

You can also tap your television to act as a second display in a pinch, although doing so has some potential drawbacks. Our guide to using your TV as a computer monitor explains everything you need to know. Regardless, the method for managing your displays in Windows is the same, as described below.

Step 1: Connect the monitor cables

Simply plug your second monitor into a power outlet and connect its video cable to an available port on your PC. 

Step 2: Intruct Windows how to manage your dual displays

Right-click the Windows desktop and select either Screen resolution (Windows 7 and Windows 8) or Display settings (Windows 10 / 11).

Windows 8: By choosing to Extend the display, your two screens will act as one. 

In the resulting dialog box you can specify the displays’ arrangement. The Multiple Displays pull-down menu allows you to control how the two screens work together. Choosing Extend these displays will prompt Windows to treat your displays as one contiguous screen. 

The display settings in Windows 10: Click the Identify tab under the graphic to establish your monitors’ arrangement.

Step 3: Choose monitor order

You can tell Windows which monitor is on the left or right by dragging the screen icons at the top of the dialog box. Get this wrong, and scrolling the mouse will be very confusing.

Step 4: Choose primary display

The Make this my main display option controls which monitor gets the taskbar and Start button. If you don’t see that option, the currently selected monitor is already the main one.

You can also control many of these settings by right-clicking the desktop and selecting your graphics control panel.

How to connect a second monitor to a computer

Likbez

Devices

April 4, 2020

The instruction is suitable for both laptops and desktop PCs.

How to connect a second monitor to a laptop or desktop computer

Find out which cable your monitor has. To do this, check its connector, which is inserted into the computer. Most likely it’s HDMI or VGA. The connector will certainly be signed. If not, find out the cable type on the monitor manufacturer’s website or from the official documentation.

You can also try to identify the connector visually using these schematics.

Connector types. Image: Apple support / Lifehacker

Now figure out which cable connectors are on the computer. This again can be done using signatures on the case, if any, as well as using the manufacturer’s website or documents for the PC. HDMI and VGA connectors are present on most devices.

If there is a suitable connector, simply plug the monitor cable into it. Otherwise, you will need an adapter. For example, if your computer only has a USB‑C port for video (typically a MacBook) and your monitor is connected via HDMI, you will need a USB‑C to HDMI adapter.

An example of a USB-C / HDMI adapter from QGeeM. Image: Amazon

If your current cable is not compatible with your computer, but your monitor has an additional connector of the same type as your PC, don’t rush to get an adapter. Instead, you can buy another cable, for which there are connectors on both the monitor and the computer. Most likely, this option will be cheaper than the adapter.

When a laptop has several connectors, it is advisable to choose the one that supports the best resolution and frame rate. For example, most MacBooks via HDMI do not display a picture in 4K or do it only at 30 Hz, but at the same time they quietly show 4K 60 Hz when connected via DisplayPort. You can find all the necessary details in the documentation for the laptop.

How to set up two monitors

Normally, the computer will automatically recognize the second monitor after it is connected. You just have to go to the OS settings and select a convenient mode of operation with multiple screens. If the new device does not appear in the settings menu, make sure that you have correctly connected it to the computer and the mains, and do not forget the power button.

If your monitor has more than one port for receiving video data, you may need to manually activate the one through which you connected the computer. To do this, use the hardware buttons to call the screen menu and select the desired port in it: HDMI, VGA or another.

Monitors usually have 1-2 buttons, so you should be able to find the right one without any problems. If necessary, you can look at the instructions for your model.

How to set up dual monitors in Windows

Open Display Options. In Windows 10, this menu is located under Settings → System → Display. In other versions of Windows, the location of the settings may differ. But in almost any system, they can also be opened through the control panel or context menu by right-clicking on the desktop. Or through a Windows search for “Screen”, “Display” or “Monitor”.

All displays connected to the computer appear in the settings menu as rectangles. If you don’t see them, click “Detect”. When the rectangles appear, select one of the three desktop display modes below them.

1. Screen mirroring

In this mode, both monitors simultaneously display the same image. But if one of them does not support the resolution of the second, then on a display with a higher resolution, the desktop will be reduced and black fields will appear.

Duplicate screens are useful if you use them for presentations, for example: one display for you and one for the audience.

2. Extended desktop

Selecting an extended desktop will split it between displays. Each of them will only show a fragment of the available area. You can choose which part of the desktop a particular display will show. To do this, you need to move the screen rectangles relative to each other.

This mode is used to improve multitasking. So, you can run different programs on each display and see them in front of you at the same time. It is very convenient if you need to work with several windows at once that do not fit on one screen.

3. Using one of the connected displays

This mode leaves only the selected screen active, the second continues to work, but with the backlight turned off. This option is often used by laptop owners to work behind a large external display instead of the built-in one. The external one is left active, and the darkened built-in one is slightly lowered along with the lid so that it does not interfere with looking at the large monitor.

The combination Win + P allows you to switch between display modes on the fly.

By selecting the appropriate mode, you can adjust the resolution of active displays and other familiar settings. After that, everything will be ready to go.

How to set up dual monitors in macOS

Expand the Apple menu, go to System Preferences → Displays, and click the Layout tab. You will see blue rectangles that represent screens connected to the computer. Select one of two desktop display modes from this menu.

1. Extended desktop

This mode works in macOS in much the same way as it does in Windows. The desktop is divided between two screens, and you can freely distribute open windows between them. When the cursor moves beyond the boundaries of one display, it appears on the other. To customize which part of the desktop a particular screen displays, simply rearrange the rectangles relative to each other.

One of the displays in this mode is the main one and contains the menu bar. Its rectangle displays a white stripe. To make another screen the main screen, drag the bar over its rectangle.

The dock is always shown on the display below. To make the panel appear on another screen, you need to move the cursor to its bottom border. If this does not suit you, you can turn off the “Monitors with separate workspaces Spaces” option in the Mission Control settings and set the screen layout to “diagonal” as in the screenshot above – then the dock will always be on an external monitor.

2. Video mirroring

Video mirroring is similar to the screen mirroring mode in Windows. When selected, the rectangles in the diagram merge into one and all displays show the same image. To activate this mode, check the box “Enable video mirroring of monitors”.

Once you have selected the desired mode, open the “Monitor” tab and, if necessary, adjust the resolution and other screen settings. After that, you can get to work.

Closed display mode

In addition to the above, macOS supports a special closed display mode. With it, you can use your MacBook as a system unit with the lid closed.

This mode is activated automatically under the following conditions. The laptop must be on charge and sleep. In addition, a monitor should be connected to it, as well as a keyboard or mouse. If you press the keyboard or mouse button at the same time, the laptop will wake up, the external screen will work, and the built-in one will remain off.

If you’re connecting a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse, you’ll need to allow wireless devices to wake your Mac in order to use Closed Display mode. This can be done in the Bluetooth settings.

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How to connect 2 monitors to a computer and not make a mistake in the settings?

Multi-monitor configuration adds comfort, especially during photo editing, painting, video editing. But besides the fact that this requires at least 2 monitors, the screens must also be connected correctly. How to do this is described in a short manual. From the instructions, you can learn how to connect a second monitor to a desktop computer or laptop, how to set up a PC so that both displays work in pairs. Plus bonus: 3 convenient free programs for working with two displays at the same time.

Advice : Frameless displays look great together.

Multi-Slot Video Card

Multiple slots on a video card are a prerequisite for connecting two or more monitors to the same computer at the same time. It is not possible to connect multiple displays using the video connector on the motherboard (vertical socket at the top of the rear panel).

Note : Video card connectors are horizontal.

Apple all-in-ones and computers that have a motherboard with two video connectors support Thunderbolt. You can easily connect a second monitor to it, you only need the appropriate adapter.

In the case of a PC, the video card must be equipped with connectors of the following type:

  • Display Port;
  • HDMI;
  • DVI;
  • VGA.

Any of these ports allows you to connect 2 monitors. However, it happens that the types of connectors on the video card and screens do not match. In this case, you can be advised to use an adapter or purchase a cable with different connection interfaces, for example, HDMI-VGA.

To the topic: What is better for a monitor: DVI or HDMI – comparison of 2 interfaces

Setting up monitors

So, in the paragraph above, it was sorted out how to connect 2 monitors to one PC. However, for the multi-monitor configuration to work, the connected screens must be properly configured. The table below will help.

Find out: 3 popular types of matrix: IPS, PLS and TN – which monitor is better

if you need to do the same on a laptop – it does not matter. Most laptops have the necessary connectors. Most often they are equipped with an HDMI port.

Read also: Types of monitors – what types of monitors exist: 7 types of screens

Software for working with multiple monitors

To comfortably use a multi-monitor configuration, it does not hurt to install a special program. Below are three popular, judging by the reviews, utilities.

Programs recommended for working with multiple monitors:

1. Multi Wall – the software is Russified and you do not need to buy it. Using the utility, you can set a different desktop wallpaper for each monitor, which is impossible when using the classic Windows features. You can also stretch the image. And the user also has the ability to download wallpapers directly from the “window”, automatically install them from a specific site, process images.

Interesting: Top 10 4K Monitors

2.