How to Set Up Multiple Monitors on a Computer

Introduction

When you work with a lot of documents at once, or find yourself with a lot of windows open, it can become welcome, if not necessary, to have more display room for your work all at once on your computer. Rather than buy a single, larger monitor, you can use a second one to display either the same or different windows.

This guide will take you through the basics of setting up a second monitor for your computer.

Dual Monitors

1 Setup and Hardware Requirements

Our first step is to be sure we have all the necessary physical hardware available.

On Your Desk

  • Make sure there's enough space for both monitors.
  • Make sure you can still reach your keyboard and mouse comfortably.
  • Make sure you can see both monitors when you sit down.

For Each Monitor

Each monitor will need the following:

  • A power cable or adapter, and an outlet to plug it in.
    Arrows pointing a power cable to monitor and outlet
  • A cable to connect to your computer that fits one of the ports on your monitor.

    Desktop
    Video cable plugged into monitor and computer
    Laptop
    Video cable plugged into monitor and laptop

For Your Computer

  • A port for each monitor.
    Graphics card showing multiple ports.

     Graphics cards and laptops may have multiple monitor hookups.

     
  • The ports on your computer must match the cables coming from both your monitors.
For DisplayPort, you can 'daisy chain', or connect one monitor through another if both the computer and one of the monitors supports it.
For laptops where you intend to use the built-in display as one of your monitors, you only need one place to plug in the second monitor on the laptop.
Adding another monitor adds, at minimum, two more cables to your computer setup. Please be sure these cables will not be caught or snagged by your chair, desk, or people walking by.

2 Connect Monitor

  1. Connect the video cable to your monitor.
    Monitor with the cable plugged in
  2. Connect the other end of the video cable to your computer.
    Monitor plugged into desktop
  3. Connect power to your new monitor:
    1. One connector (1) plugs into the monitor.
    2. The other connector (2) plugs into a power socket.
    3. And sometimes, a third (3) connector plugs into the supply itself.
    Monitor power supply connectors annotated.
  4. Turn on your monitor.
    Power button on monitor highlighted.
  5. Turn on your computer.
    Power.

3 OS Choice

There are 2 main Operating Systems for personal computers currently available, Windows and macOS.

Windows
Windows runs on computers produced by multiple companies, such as Lenovo, Asus, Dell, Toshiba, Hewlett Packard, Acer, and Sony.Windows 10
macOS
Apple is the only company that makes macOS computers.macOS Mojave

? Do you have Windows or macOS?

  1. Windows
  2. macOS

We're here to help!

Connect to a Tech Pro

Call or chat with a Tech Pro 24/7.

When you work with a lot of documents at once, or find yourself with a lot of windows open, it can become welcome, if not necessary, to have more display room for your work all at once on your computer. Rather than buy a single, larger monitor, you can use a second one to display either the same or different windows.

This guide will take you through the basics of setting up a second monitor for your computer.

Dual Monitors

Our first step is to be sure we have all the necessary physical hardware available.

On Your Desk

  • Make sure there's enough space for both monitors.
  • Make sure you can still reach your keyboard and mouse comfortably.
  • Make sure you can see both monitors when you sit down.

For Each Monitor

Each monitor will need the following:

  • A power cable or adapter, and an outlet to plug it in.
    Arrows pointing a power cable to monitor and outlet
  • A cable to connect to your computer that fits one of the ports on your monitor.

    Desktop
    Video cable plugged into monitor and computer
    Laptop
    Video cable plugged into monitor and laptop

For Your Computer

  • A port for each monitor.
    Graphics card showing multiple ports.

     Graphics cards and laptops may have multiple monitor hookups.

     
  • The ports on your computer must match the cables coming from both your monitors.
For DisplayPort, you can 'daisy chain', or connect one monitor through another if both the computer and one of the monitors supports it.
For laptops where you intend to use the built-in display as one of your monitors, you only need one place to plug in the second monitor on the laptop.
Adding another monitor adds, at minimum, two more cables to your computer setup. Please be sure these cables will not be caught or snagged by your chair, desk, or people walking by.
  1. Connect the video cable to your monitor.
    Monitor with the cable plugged in
  2. Connect the other end of the video cable to your computer.
    Monitor plugged into desktop
  3. Connect power to your new monitor:
    1. One connector (1) plugs into the monitor.
    2. The other connector (2) plugs into a power socket.
    3. And sometimes, a third (3) connector plugs into the supply itself.
    Monitor power supply connectors annotated.
  4. Turn on your monitor.
    Power button on monitor highlighted.
  5. Turn on your computer.
    Power.

There are 2 main Operating Systems for personal computers currently available, Windows and macOS.

Windows
Windows runs on computers produced by multiple companies, such as Lenovo, Asus, Dell, Toshiba, Hewlett Packard, Acer, and Sony.Windows 10
macOS
Apple is the only company that makes macOS computers.macOS Mojave

For the next steps, we'll need to determine which version of Windows you're running.

  1. On your keyboard, hold the Windows key then tap Pause/Break.
    Keyboard with Windows and Pause keys highlighted.
  2. A System Properties window will appear with your version of Windows.
    Windows System properties.
  3. System Properties will also show which edition of Windows you have. Pictured below is Windows 10 Home Edition.
    Windows 10 Home edition.

Display Settings

Screen Resolution Settings

To manage your monitor settings, right click on a blank area of your desktop and click on Display Settings.
.Context menu with Display Settings highlighted

Detect Monitors

Your monitors should both show up automatically.
Monitors highlighted

If you monitors don't show up automatically click the Detect button to scan for changes.
Detect button highlighted

Identify Monitor

If you're unsure which monitor is which, you can Identify the monitor by clicking Identify.
Identify button highlighted

You will see the monitor number show up in the bottom left corner of the screen.
Monitor 1 being idtentified

Positioning Your Monitor

You can position your monitors by dragging the monitor to rearrange how they show up.
Arrows on monitors indicating you can drag them with your mouse

Monitors can be positioned both vertically and horizontally.

Set Monitor Resolution and Orientation

  1. Make sure you have selected the correct monitor from the Display menu.
    Monitors highlighted
  2. Select the resolution you want for your monitor from the Resolution Menu.
    Resolution drop down menu highlighted
  3. Choose the orientation or your monitor.
    Orientation menu highlighted

Manage Monitor Functionality

  1. Make sure you have selected the correct monitor from the Display menu.
    Monitors Highlighted
  2. Choose how you would like your additional monitor to function from the Multiple displays menu..
    Display function menu highlighted

    Extend Allows you use your additional monitor for additional screen.
    Mirror Will duplicate the contents of another monitor.


    If you choose to extend your display, you can pick your primary monitor by clicking the box that says Make this my main display.
    Main Display checkbox

Screen Resolution Settings

Screen Resolution Settings

To manage your monitor settings, right click on a blank area of your desktop and click on Screen Resolution
.Screen Resolution highlighted

Detect Monitors

Your monitors should both show up automatically.
Displays highlighted

If you monitors don't show up automatically click the Detect button to scan for changes.
Detect button highlighted

Identify Monitor

If you're unsure which monitor is which, you can Identify the monitor by clicking Identify.
Identify highlighted

You will see the monitor number show up in the center of the screen.
Monitor number shown on display.

Positioning Your Monitor

You can position your monitors by dragging the monitor to rearrange how they show up.
Monitors with arrows indicating you can drag to preposition monitor

Monitors can be positioned both vertically and horizontally.

Set Monitor Resolution

  1. Make sure you have selected the correct monitor from the Display menu.
    Display drop down menu highlighted
  2. Select the resolution you want for your monitor from the Resolution Menu.
    Resolution drop down menu highlighted.

Manage Monitor Functionality

  1. Make sure you have selected the correct monitor from the Display menu.
    Display drop down menu highlighted
  2. Choose how you would like your additional monitor to function from the Multiple displays menu..
    Multiple displays drop down menu highlighted
    Extend Allows you use your additional monitor for additional screen.
    Mirror Will duplicate the contents of another monitor.

    If you choose to extend your display, you can pick your primary monitor by clicking the box that says Make this my main display.
    Main display option

Screen Resolution settings page

Screen Resolution Settings

To manage your monitor settings, right click on a blank area of your desktop and click on Screen Resolution
.Screen Resolution highlighted

Detect Monitors

Your monitors should both show up automatically.
Displays highlighted

If you monitors don't show up automatically click the Detect button to scan for changes.
Detect button highlighted

Identify Monitor

If you're unsure which monitor is which, you can Identify the monitor by clicking Identify.
Identify highlighted

You will see the monitor number show up in the center of the screen.

Positioning Your Monitor

You can position your monitors by dragging the monitor to rearrange how they show up.
Monitors with arrows indicating you can drag to preposition monitor

Monitors can be positioned both vertically and horizontally.

Set Monitor Resolution

  1. Make sure you have selected the correct monitor from the Display menu.
    Display drop down menu highlighted
  2. Select the resolution you want for your monitor from the Resolution Menu.
    Resolution drop down menu highlighted.

Manage Monitor Functionality

  1. Make sure you have selected the correct monitor from the Display menu.
    Display drop down menu highlighted
  2. Choose how you would like your additional monitor to function from the Multiple displays menu..
    Multiple displays drop down menu highlighted
    Extend Allows you use your additional monitor for additional screen.
    Mirror Will duplicate the contents of another monitor.


    If you choose to extend your display, you can pick your primary monitor by clicking the box that says Make this my main display.
    Main display box
  1. Click on the Apple menu and click System Preferences.
    Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted
  2. Click on Displays.
    System Preferences with Displays highlighted

Extended Display

You can maximize your workspace with extended desktop mode, which lets you enjoy full-screen apps and windows on each monitor.

  1. Click on the Arrangement tab.
    Arrangement tab highlighted
  2. Make sure that Mirror Displays is unchecked.
    Mirror displays highlighted
  3. You can position your monitors by dragging the monitor to rearrange how they show up.
    Monitors with arrows going left and right.

Mirrored Display

With video mirroring, all of your displays will show the same apps and windows.

  1. Click the Arrangement tab.
    Arrangement tab highlighted
  2. Make sure Mirror Displays is checked.
    Mirror Displays box highlighted

Using Airplay

If you have a compatible AirPlay device, you can choose to mirror or extend the display to it.

  1. Click the Airplay icon on your menu bar.
    Airplay menu highlighted
  2. Click the TV or Device you want to use.
    Airplay device highlighted
  3. You can Choose to extend or mirror your desktop.
We use cookies on our website to enhance your experience, analyze site usage and support our marketing efforts. To learn more, visit our Privacy Policy. By clicking “Accept”, you agree to our use of cookies and similar technologies.
Accept