This Instructable will walk you through connecting an external monitor to a MacBook Pro. It may also be used in variations to connect to a PC laptop.
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Step 1: Gather Your Items
You will need:
A VGA cord (at the far left in blue)
A monitor power cord (on the right in black)
a thunderbolt/mini display dongle (the white adapter - this piece will allow you to connect the VGA cable to the laptop, as it it lacking the VGA port)
an external monitor of any size
Step 2: Connect the Dongle
Press the VGA cord end into the larger side of the dongle. You will note that there are two screws on the sides of the VGA cord. Screw these in to hand tight.
Step 3: VGA to Monitor
Connect the other end of the VGA cable to the back of external monitor. Again, hand tighten the screws on the side to keep a secure connection.
Step 4: Dongle to Mini Display
Plug the dongle into the mini display port of your laptop.
Step 5: Power to Monitor
Plug the power cord of your monitor into the back of the monitor. Make sure to then plug the other end into an outlet.
Step 6: System Preferences
On the doc (shown at the bottom of my screen) go into System Preferences.
Step 7: Display Icon
Once open, the System Preferences menu will look like this. You need to choose the display icon change the properties of your current display.
Step 8: Arrangement
With your monitor plugged in and turned on, you will see this box pop up when you choose display. You will want to select the arrangement tab on the top.
Step 9: Arrangement Tab
From the arrangement tab, you will be able to position the primary monitor (the smaller one) and the external monitor (the larger blue box). Drag the two boxes to show the orientation of your monitors as they appear on your desk. The white rectangle in the external monitor box (the larger blue box on the bottom) is which monitor your menu bar will be located. You can click and drag this to other positions as well.
Step 10: Have Fun!
Working with an external monitor will give you more workspace and the ability to see multiple pages at once without making them super small. Personally, I use it when translating and working on art projects. It's also great if you have an addiction to watching movies while you are working! The secret is getting the monitors in a position that is convenient for you. It may take some practice to get used to moving from screen to screen, but its worth it!