When you start working from home full-time, you'll appreciate the value of the extra screen real estate. If you have an extra monitor or two, you can keep your applications accessible at all times.
This eliminates the need to switch between windows and Alt-Tab. Many desktop PCs can support multiple monitors. However, laptops are unlikely to offer a similar solution.
However, did you know that a Windows laptop can support up to seven displays? In the following guide we will show you how to set up multiple monitors on your work device.
The first thing you should do is take a look at your computer. Which ports are available to you? These are the most common display-out slots to work with: HDMI, USB-C, and miniDP.
If you have one of these, the next step should be to choose a monitor that supports what you have. Most displays support HDMI, while newer ones have USB-C cables. MiniDP and DisplayPort technology, on the other hand, are usually found on pro-level monitors.
It's pretty easy to add an additional display. All you need to do is set up your new monitor, make sure it has the correct connection adapter, and plug it in. After doing that, your Windows laptop should recognize it and display your desktop automatically.
Use your laptop screen as a second monitor
If you want to use your laptop's built-in screen as a secondary screen, you'll need to set it up in your display settings.
All you have to do is to Right click on your desktop and select display settings. In the new window you will see two fields representing your monitors.
click Identify to know which number corresponds to which screen. You can also rearrange the boxes to match the physical layout of your displays.
If you know which number is assigned to which ad, choose the screen You want to use as the main screen. Scroll down to Multiple advertisements.
Click on that Drop down menu and choose Extend the desktop onto this display. Don't forget to tick this Make this my main display Checkbox!
Sometimes the computer asks if you want to do this Keep the changes or To return. Click on Keep the changes if you are satisfied with it or To return when you're back to the way it was
Using two external monitors
Your laptop's 15-inch screen may not be enough, so consider adding a second monitor. This is where things get a little tricky.
First of all, you need to find out what other ports you have available on your Windows laptop. Are there free HDMI or MiniDP ports? If you do, you are in luck! All you have to do is get a new display compatible with your available port and you're good to go.
However, if you only have one additional USB-C port, you need to check whether it supports the transmission of a video signal. You can look at this table that Kensington made to see if you can plug a monitor into your USB-C wall socket.
As a rule of thumb, if you see a Thunderbolt or DisplayPort logo next to the USB-C port, it is working with a screen. All you need is a suitable USB-C to HDMI or USB-C to DisplayPort / miniDP cable.
DisplayPort and Thunderbolt logos
However, if you don't see any of the above logos next to your USB-C port, then you can check your laptop's manual. You can also contact the manufacturer of your laptop and ask if they support a video signal. If they say it doesn't support display protocol, I'm afraid you won't be able to connect a monitor through this port.
If you don't have an extra video port and you really need that extra monitor, get a USB 3.0 to HDMI adapter. Depending on the adapter, your screen can be displayed in full resolution.
Connect three or more monitors
If you're missing two external displays, you can use your laptop screen as a third monitor. Use the same procedure we outlined above and you are good to go.
But if you need to have three (or more) large displays on your Windows laptop, you'll need to dig a little more.
First, check that your laptop has one of the following ports:
USB-C with DisplayPort Alt mode
USB-C with Thunderbolt3
You must also have Multi-Stream Transport (MST) compatible monitors or an MST hub.
If you have or want to use existing HDMI monitors, I recommend the MST hub. This is connected to your DP-compatible port and then splits the signal on up to 4 different monitors.
These hubs are available with either DisplayPort or HDMI outputs. Here's how you can use HDMI monitors in your setup. The advantage of this method is that you can use cheaper HDMI monitors. However, it will also limit you to a maximum of four displays.
Your other option is to use only MST compatible monitors. These displays are connected via a daisy chain configuration. This way you can have up to seven monitors on a single port.
One disadvantage is that these displays are few and far between. In addition, they are far more expensive than their non-MST counterparts. This is because they are usually considered professional displays. Because of this, they usually have improved features like color accuracy.
This daisy chain option is usually best for professionals. Especially those that require high video standards such as photo and video editors.
Also note that your laptop must have a separate graphics card with more than three external displays. This is because most built-in graphics typically only support up to three displays. You should check the specific model of your laptop before making a purchase.
Whether you choose the MST hub or the daisy chain method, setting up your monitors is easy. All you have to do is plug and play, and you're good to go. The automatic detection of these screens works well on Windows.
Go to display settings Menu to change the monitor position. Then scroll back to the Use your laptop screen as a second monitor Section and follow my directions for each ad.
Increase your productivity
Multiple displays aren't just for bragging rights or a conversation piece. You can use it at work to improve your quality of life. In addition, it increases your productivity. On top of that, it will be a great entertainment and gaming rig.
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About the author
(5 articles published)
Jowi is a writer, career coach and pilot. He has developed a love of everything PC since his father bought a desktop computer when he was 5 years old. Since then, he has been using and maximizing technology in every aspect of his life.
By Jowi Morales
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