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How can I add a second monitor to my computer?

Please note that WCA does not provide technical support or troubleshooting for hardware-related problems. Issues with multiple-monitor setups can only be supported by an on-site, local technician.

A second monitor can increase your available screen real estate, making it easier to compare documents side-by-side or multitask.

Some computers have the ability to support multiple monitors built-in; most will require additional internal hardware to be installed and configured before you can add a second monitor to your workstation.

Verifying Hardware Requirements

Look at the back of your computer, where your keyboard, mouse, monitor and so forth are plugged in. Compare the available ports against the images below:

Computer Video-Out Ports

If you do not have any unused ports
Your computer does not support additional monitors. You could contact a local technician and investigate installing a graphics card that does support additional monitors.

If you do have an unused port
It's possible - though not guaranteed - that you can simply plug in an additional monitor. The only way to find out is to actually connect a second monitor. If you do not already have access to one, you will need to purchase one. Make sure you keep your receipt and all packaging in case you need to make a return.

1. Turn off your computer.
2. Connect the second monitor's data and power cables.
3. Turn your computer back on, making sure both monitors are also powered on.

If the second monitor stays blank or displays a test pattern or screensaver, your computer's unused video port may not be enabled, or your computer may not support multiple monitors despite having two video-out ports. You can contact a local technician to investigate further.

If the second monitor displays your computer's start-up sequence, mirroring the first monitor, your computer does support two monitors, and you can proceed to the next section.

Configuring Your Second Monitor

There are three different general configurations available for multiple monitors in Windows.

Extended: The most common. This configuration extends your desktop across both displays, allowing you to drag programs, documents, et cetera to the second screen.
Duplicate: This configuration mirrors your desktop on both displays; what you see on one appears on the other. This is usually used when your second display is a projector.
Disconnect: This disables the second monitor, leaving you with the original primary monitor.

The following links are to knowledgebase articles on Microsoft's website, explaining how to configure your monitors in each version of Windows.

Windows 8
Windows 7
Windows Vista
Windows XP

If you have any questions or run into any problems, you will need to contact a local technician. WCA is not capable of providing support for installation or configuration of multiple monitors.

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Last Updated
February 12, 2015

  

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