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How to Set Up Dual Monitors in Windows 7

Updated on January 9, 2016
Max Dalton profile image

Max holds a BS in Mass Communications from SIU and an MA in Communication from U of I, and is pursuing an MBA from Webster University.

Connect your laptop to an external monitor for a larger display or to extend your digital workspace.
Connect your laptop to an external monitor for a larger display or to extend your digital workspace.
Press the "Windows" and "P" keys on your laptop at the same time to bring up the options for how to use your external monitor.
Press the "Windows" and "P" keys on your laptop at the same time to bring up the options for how to use your external monitor. | Source
You may need to change your computer's resolution to make the outputted display fit your computer screen.
You may need to change your computer's resolution to make the outputted display fit your computer screen. | Source

Windows 7 Laptop

  1. Locate the video output port on your laptop. Almost all laptops have a VGA output, but some laptops have either an HDMI or DVI video output port instead. VGA and DVI output ports output your computer's display in standard video and don't carry audio, while an HDMI cable carries both audio and video.
  2. Connect the corresponding video cable to the video output port on your Windows 7 laptop.
  3. If the external monitor you're connecting your Windows 7 laptop to has a video input that matches the type of cable you're using, connect the other end of the cable to that video input port. Often, VGA input ports on external computer monitors will be labelled as "VGA," but the VGA input on TVs will be labelled "RGB," "PC" or "VGA." However, if there is no video input port that corresponds with the cable you're using, you'll need to use a converter that converts the video cable your using to a video cable that corresponds with an available input on your external monitor. For example, if you connected a VGA cable to your PC and your external monitor only has an available HDMI input, you'll need to use a VGA-to-HDMI converter cable. Always remember that when you use a converter cable, the outputted video will always be the equivalent of the highest quality video type supported by your lowest quality video cable. For example, if you are using a VGA-to-HDMI converter, the outputted video will be standard quality, as the VGA cable is the lowest quality cable you're using, and the best quality of video it can carry is standard quality.
  4. Turn on the external monitor and the laptop if both devices aren't on already.
  5. Change the input displayed on the external monitor to correspond with the input where you connected the video cable coming from the laptop.
  6. Press the "Windows" and "P" buttons simultaneously to bring p the Windows 7 external display dialog box that features four options for using your connected external monitor: Computer Only, Duplicate, Extend and Projector Only.
  7. Click to select the option that corresponds with how you want to use the external monitor connected to your computer. Selecting "Computer Only" will display your laptop on your computer only and nothing will be displayed on the external monitor. Selecting "Duplicate" mirrors your laptop's display on both your laptop and the external monitor. The Duplicate setting is ideal for presentations where you don't want to display your laptop's display on a larger screen so people don't have to crowd around your laptop. Selecting "Extend" extends your laptop's workspace onto the external monitor so that you can move your mouse between screens. The Extend setting lets you move objects between the screen. This setting is ideal if you are working on a document you have to reference regularly and working on a separate document; you can have each document on the same screen and don't have to worry about flipping between them.
  8. The settings will automatically be applied.
  9. If your laptop's outputted display doesn't appear on the external monitor and you selected an option other than Computer Only, check the manual that came with your external monitor to see if it only supports certain PC resolutions. If your external monitor does support specific PC resolutions, disconnect the cable connecting your Windows 7 laptop to the external monitor. Right-click an open area on your laptop's desktop and then click "Screen Resolution to open the Change the Appearance of Your Display window. Click the drop-down arrow to the right of Resolution and then drag the slider to a resolution supported by your monitor. Changing to a supported monitor resolution also works if the display appears on the external monitor but is distorted.

Extend your desktop monitor to an external monitor for increased work space.
Extend your desktop monitor to an external monitor for increased work space.
You have to access your options for viewing an external monitor on a desktop computer through the Control Panel.
You have to access your options for viewing an external monitor on a desktop computer through the Control Panel. | Source
Instead of navigating through the Control Panel to change your screen resolution, right-click an open area on the desktop and then click "Screen Resolution."
Instead of navigating through the Control Panel to change your screen resolution, right-click an open area on the desktop and then click "Screen Resolution." | Source

Windows 7 Desktop Computer

  1. Locate the video output ports on your Windows 7 desktop computer. Almost all desktop computers have either a VGA or DVI video output port, but some desktop computers have multiple video output ports, such as one HDMI and one VGA port. If you desktop computer does not offer multiple video ports, can buy a splitter cable that splits the video output feed from the single video cable connected to your desktop computer and splits it into two cables that carry that feed. However, if you use this method, the resulting outputted display will be lesser quality than it would be if you'd connected one monitor to the computer.
  2. Connect the corresponding video cables to the video output ports on your Windows 7 desktop computer.
  3. If the monitor you're connecting your Windows 7 desktop computer to has a video input that matches the type of cable you're using, connect the other end of the cable to that video input port. Often, VGA input ports on external computer monitors will be labelled "VGA," but the VGA input on TVs will be labelled "RGB," "PC" or "VGA." However, if there is no video input port that corresponds with the cable you're using, you'll need to use a converter that converts the video cable your using to a video cable that corresponds with an available input on your external monitor. For example, if you connected a VGA cable to your PC and your external monitor only has an available HDMI input, you'll need to use a VGA-to-HDMI converter cable. Always remember that when you use a converter cable, the outputted video will always be the equivalent of the highest quality video type supported by your lowest quality video cable. For example, if you are using a VGA-to-HDMI converter, the outputted video will be standard quality, as the VGA cable is the lowest quality cable you're using, and the best quality of video it can carry is standard quality.
  4. Turn on the external monitors and the desktop computer if both devices aren't on already.
  5. Change the inputs displayed on each monitor to correspond with the input where you connected the video cable coming from the Windows 7 desktop computer.
  6. Click the Windows orb on the home screen's taskbar and then click "Control Panel." Click "Appearance and Personalization" and then click "Connect to an external display" beneath Display. Click "Connect to a Projector" beneath Advanced Settings to bring up the Windows 7 dual monitors dialog box with four options: Computer Only, Duplicate, Extend and Projector Only.
  7. Click to select the option that corresponds with how you want to use the dual monitors connected to your Windows 7 desktop computer. Selecting "Computer Only" will display your computer's display on your computer only and nothing will be displayed on the external monitor. Selecting "Duplicate" mirrors your computer's display on both your computer and the external monitor. The Duplicate setting is ideal for presentations where you want everyone to display your Windows 7 desktop computer's display on a larger screen so people don't have to crowd around your computer. Selecting "Extend" extends your computer's workspace onto the external monitor so that you can move your mouse between screens. The Extend setting lets you move objects between the screen. This setting is ideal if you are working on a document you have to reference regularly and working on a separate document; you can have each document on the same screen and don't have to worry about flipping between them.
  8. The settings will automatically be applied.
  9. If your computer's outputted display doesn't appear on one of the monitors and you selected an option other than Computer Only, check the manual that came with your monitor to see if it only supports certain PC resolutions. If your external monitor does support specific PC resolutions, disconnect the cable connecting your Windows 7 desktop computer to the external monitor. Right-click an open area on your computer's desktop and then click "Screen Resolution to open the Change the Appearance of Your Display window. Click the drop-down arrow to the right of Resolution and then drag the slider to a resolution supported by your monitor. Changing to a supported monitor resolution also works if the display appears but is distorted.

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