Introduction: How to Use an External Monitor for Your Laptop
Do you need to put on some sort of video presentation for school or work? Maybe you're speaking at a conference or symposium, and you're going to have to connect your laptop to some sort of wide screen or even a projection system. As you might realize, there are many reasons why you would need to connect your laptop to an external monitor, and most of us will have to at some point if we need to display a Power Point presentation to others and our tiny laptop screens won't suffice. If you're not the kind of person who is friendly with technology, you might feel a little confused about how to go about doing this.
Fortunately, it's really not that hard to get connected to an external monitor, and in fact you don't have to be particularly tech-savvy to get it to work. All you need to do is follow these simple steps and you'll be staring at two screens in no time.
Step 1: Look at the Back and Sides of Your Laptop for a Video Port.
First, you're going to have to determine if your laptop is even capable of connecting to an external screen, but chances are, if your computer was made within the last 15 years, it should have some sort of port that allows it do this. Check the back and the sides of your laptop for either a VGA port (for older laptops) or an HDMI port (for modern ones); if either or both of these are present, then your laptop probably doesn't need anything else and can safely be plugged in to the external monitor.
If neither of these ports are present, then you may have to find some kind of software method to remotely view the contents of your desktop on another computer, and then have that computer connect to the external monitor, but this is beyond the scope of this article.
Step 2: Check the External Monitor.
Depending on when the monitor (or projector) was made and what brand, it may have several options to receive video. More commonly, it will be HDMI and/or VGA, but many times—especially if it's also a TV—the external monitor may have many more options such as AV inputs or even S-video.
Regardless, your job is to find a port that matches the one on your laptop and can be connected by cable. Many times, especially if it is a dedicated computer monitor, it will come with the cable already dangling.
Step 3: Find a Cable for the Port
Naturally, you'll want an HDMI cable if you have an HDMI port, or a VGA cable if you have a VGA port. As mentioned, the cable may already be available or lying around nearby, but if it's not, you will have to go hunting for one. To avoid this inconvenience, it's best for you to plan ahead and bring a best HDMI cable that is compatible with your laptop before you go start a presentation.
Step 4: Plug It In
Most modern laptops will instantly detect the external monitor and start sending a feed. From here, you can just use the laptop normally and it will show up on the second monitor.
With these four easy steps, you should be good to go, assuming that your laptop and the monitor have matching video interfaces.