How to connect monitor to laptop

You spend most of your working hours in front of your notebook and, over time, working on a small screen has begun to pose a real problem. So you’d like to be able to work on a larger screen, but at the moment you don’t think it’s worth swapping your current laptop with a larger display notebook or desktop PC. You are therefore looking for a much cheaper solution that allows you to solve your problem.

If this is the way things are, I think I have the right solution for you: you must know, in fact, that practically all laptops available on the market can be connected to an external screen, using a special communication cable (and, in some cases, even in wireless mode, even if this solution is not suitable for prolonged use). By doing this, not only will you be able to operate from a larger screen, but you will also have the ability to take advantage of both monitors to maximize your productivity.

How do you say? This solution intrigues you somewhat and, now, you can’t wait to understand how to connect a monitor to a laptop? Then continue quickly with the reading of this guide: I guarantee you that, in practice, everything is much simpler than it seems. That said, there is nothing left for me to do but wish you a good read and a big good luck for everything!


  • How to connect monitor to laptop: connection via cable
    • Types of cable
    • Windows configuration
    • MacOS configuration
  • How to connect screen to laptop without using cables
  • How to connect desktop PC to laptop screen

How to connect monitor to laptop: connection via cable

Let’s start this guide by understanding, together, how to connect a monitor to a laptop via cable: below I will list the most used types of “wired” communication and, later, how to configure the Windows and macOS operating systems once the connection is established.

Types of cable

The first thing you need to do, as regards the connection between notebook and external display via cable, is to analyze the connection ports available on both devices involved, in order to identify and use the most suitable connection cable. The most common ports are listed below, along with their respective cables.

  • HDMI: is the most used connection technology, available on almost all the screens present in circulation. Through HDMI it is possible to transmit and receive contents up to a resolution of 7680 x 4320 pixels (8K), with a refresh rate of 60 Hz (and management of audio streams); For content with resolution of 4K or higher, HDMI cables of type 1.4 or higher must be used. On some Windows notebooks, instead of the standard HDMI port, the micro HDMI port is available, which can be exploited thanks to a special adapter (micro HDMI male to HDMI female), or a cable with both connectors; modern MacBooks, on the other hand, do not have HDMI outputs, so you have to fall back on transmission via USB Type-C. To find out more, read mine buying guide for HDMI cables.


  • DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort and Thunderbolt: On monitors, it is not uncommon to come across the DisplayPort input, the output of which can be available on notebooks in regular (DisplayPort), reduced (Mini DisplayPort) or Thunderbolt (present on older generation MacBooks and identical) format to Mini DisplayPort). This communication standard, valid in all three cases, allows you to transmit/receive content at a theoretical maximum resolution of 8K at 85 Hz, with audio transmission. Using an appropriate cable or adapter, you can also turn your notebook’s DisplayPort / Mini DisplayPort output into an HDMI input for use on your external display.
  • USB Type-C: This port is found on many high-end notebooks and convertibles, as well as on all modern MacBooks, and allows you to connect to a monitor using various standards. In this case, in fact, a port of the same format (USB Type-C, in fact) can “hide” support for different technologies, such as HDMI, DisplayPort or Thunderbolt. You must inform yourself by carefully consulting the technical data sheet of the laptop in your possession and, therefore, use a compatible monitor and/or adapter. The connection via USB Type-C, depending on the standard supported, can allow you to transmit/receive content up to a resolution of 8K with a refresh rate of 60 Hz (and provides for the management of audio streams).
  • DVI: this transmission standard is often available on older Windows notebooks and present on numerous external screens, including new generation ones. It can reach a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels (QHD) at 60 Hz. It is possible to transform a DVI input/output into an HDMI input/output by using appropriate cables or adapters.
  • VGA: it was the most used standard ever for the connection between notebooks and external screens but, today, it is increasingly rare to find the relative communication port on next generation laptops and monitors. Theoretically, the supported resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels (Full HD) with 70 Hz refresh rate but, in practice, the rendering of content with quality higher than 1280 x 720 pixels (HD) is anything but appreciable.

Once you have identified the communication system that best suits your needs, simply turn on the devices involved (both the notebook and the external monitor ) and put them in communication via the cable/adapter chosen. In most cases, the transmission of the contents will take place immediately and the external screen will automatically position itself on the appropriate source; if not, locate and press the physical SRC / SOURCE button of the latter device several times , waiting a couple of seconds between each press, until you see the desktop.

Windows configuration

Once the connection between the devices has been established, you can use the configuration panels of Windows 10 (or later), to make the appropriate adjustments: therefore, right-click on an empty spot on the desktop and choose the Screen resolution item from the contextual menu displayed, in order to access the panel dedicated to monitor settings (a section that can also be reached by opening the Settings> System> Windows Display menu ).

Now, click on the preview of the secondary monitor visible in the Rearrange the screens box (generally identified by the number 2 ) and intervene on the drop-down menus below the Resizing and layout item to define the text sizeresolution and screen orientation. If you are not sure whether to intervene on the right monitor, click on the Detect button, in order to display the associated number, directly on the screen.

Still from the same panel, you can choose the mode of use to be dedicated to the second monitor (duplication of the screen, extension of the desktop or exclusive use): locate the drop-down menu More screens and select the item Extend these screens, to use the external monitor as an extension of the notebook screen; Duplicate these screens, to mirror the laptop’s desktop in a mirror image; or Show only on 1 / Show only on 2 , to use only the display marked with number 1, or the one with number two.

If you have activated the screen extension, you can change the order of the two monitors, according to your preferences: return again to the Rearrange screens box, visible at the top and drag the secondary virtual monitor to the position you prefer.

Alternatively, to establish “on the fly” the content delivery mode to the secondary screen (duplication/extension of the desktop or use only one of the monitor), open the ‘ Windows notification area by clicking on the symbol of the comic visible next to ‘clock, click on the Expand item located at the bottom (if necessary) and click on the Project button, to access the available options.

Now, click on one of the available items, to set the transmission mode you prefer: Duplicate, to duplicate the main screen; Extend, to use the second monitor as an extension of the notebook desktop; or Second screen only, to turn off the main monitor completely and use only the secondary monitor.

MacOS configuration

On macOS, things are not so different, compared to what we saw for Windows: once the MacBook is connected to the external monitor, the latter is used as an extension of the desk. To change this behavior, along with other duplication parameters, click on the gear symbol located in the Dock bar , to open the System Preferences and then on the Monitor icon, available in the new window that appears.

Now, if you want to rearrange the screens in a different order (because, for example, the physical position is not congruent with the default Mac ordering), click on the Arrangement tab and drag the virtual monitors that appear in the middle pane, to the right or to the left.

If, on the other hand, you do not want to extend the desk but duplicate it, put the checkmark next to the Duplicate monitor item, located at the bottom. To adjust the brightness or resolution of one of the screens, click on its preview, then open the Monitor tab and use the drop-down menus and available adjustment bars to change the parameters as you prefer.

Please note that, if needed, you can quickly access the screen duplication settings, simply by clicking on the multifunction icon visible near the MacBook clock: to activate this possibility, go to the Monitor section and put the checkmark next to the Show Duplicate Options item in the menu bar when available.

How to connect screen to laptop without using cables

Does the idea of ​​having cables scattered around the house make you cringe and would you like to go wireless? In this case, you have several paths to take, it all depends on the equipment and devices in your possession.

To start, if you have an animated notebook from Windows 10 (or later) and an external display with support for the Miracast protocol, you don’t have to buy anything, as you can establish communication between the two devices with ease.

If you had never heard of it, Miracast is a transmission standard based on the Wi-Fi direct connection, which can transmit content up to 4K Ultra HD resolution (obviously based on the video card in the computer and the maximum resolution supported by the monitor. secondary) at 60 fps. The connection between two Miracast devices is direct and does not require the use of additional network devices (eg routers).

Alternatively, you can easily adapt a “classic” monitor (and not equipped with integrated connectivity) to the use of Miracast technology, using a special adapter, to be connected to the HDMI input of the screen and to a power source (also USB).

To establish the connection between the two devices, if you have a screen with Miracast wireless support, turn on the latter and enable the reception of contents (if necessary), using the dedicated menu; if, on the other hand, you have opted to use the Miracast adapter, connect it to the HDMI port of the monitor and to a power source, turn on the screen and set it to the HDMI source, pressing the physical SOURCE / SRC button several times.

Once the monitor is properly set up, switch to Windows 10, call up the notification area of the operating system, by clicking on the cartoon symbol present near the clock and press the Connect button, visible at the bottom; if you do not see it, first click on the Expand item, so as to display all the quick buttons.

Now, wait for the name of the Miracast monitor/adapter to appear in the list of detected devices and, when this happens, click on it, so as to start the transmission of the screen. To adjust the duplication parameters (mirroring / screen extension, resolution, size and so on), you can follow the same instructions I gave you in the chapter dedicated to cable connection.

What about MacBooks? In this case, you cannot use Miracast technology, as it is not compatible with Apple-branded devices. Alternatively, you can use Google’s Chromecast, or Apple’s Apple TV box: both devices can be connected to the HDMI port of the external monitor, to transform the latter into a “smart” Wi-Fi device.

Chromecast can be purchased from the Google site, in two versions: the basic one, which costs € 39 and supports Full HD resolution; and the one with Google TV, which costs € 69.99 instead, supports 4K resolution and allows both direct app installation and remote control.

Even Apple TV is available in two different versions: the HD, which allows you to play content at full 1080p resolution and has 32 GB of internal memory; and 4K , which increases the resolution of content up to 4K and can be purchased in 32 and 64 GB memory sizes. All versions of Apple’s multimedia box have a remote control and integrated App Store.

In addition to the price, the two devices in question also differ in terms of use: by choosing Chromecast, it will be possible to transmit the contents of the macOS desk, in duplication mode only, through the specific functionality integrated in the Google Chrome browser.

Apple TV, on the other hand, is natively compatible with the transmission of content via the AirPlay system of MacBooks (and, in general, of Apple devices), therefore it is possible to duplicate or extend the desktop, change the order and resolution of the screens and, in general, take advantage of all the options available also for the cable connection.

To deepen the subject, I refer you to reading my guide on how to connect the Mac to the TV, equally valid for external monitors (except for the native integration of AirPlay 2 which, on screens, is not available: it is necessarily using Apple TV).

How to connect desktop PC to laptop screen

Are you wondering if it is possible to connect a desktop computer to the laptop screen? The answer is absolutely yes, but only if there is an updated version of Windows 10 (or later) on both computers involved.

The Microsoft operating system, in fact, allows you to transform the screen of the notebook (but also of the desktop PC) into a real Miracast receiver, which can be enabled if necessary to transform the device into a sort of wireless monitor.

If you intend to take advantage of this possibility, positioned in front of the laptop, right-click on the Windows Start button (the Windows flag icon located at the bottom left), select the Settings item from the menu that appears and click on System icon, visible in the sidebar of the window that opens.

Now, click on the Projection tab on this PC (from the side) and make sure that the drop-down menus that appear in the new panel are enabled and clickable; if not, click on the item Optional features, press the [+] button Add a feature and type the words wireless screen in the text field visible on the next screen. Once this is done, put the checkmark next to the name of the feature found and click on the Install button, to add it to Windows.

Once the Wireless Screen installation is complete, click on the left arrow located at the top, in order to reach the panel dedicated to the Miracast server again, choose the option Available everywhere insecure networks from the top drop-down menu and indicate when to request projection in the PC and whether or not to set a PIN for the association or not, using the dedicated menus.

After this step too, click on the item Start the Connect app to project on this PC, which should now be visible at the top of the window.

We’re almost there: now move to the computer whose screen you want to replicate, make sure it is connected to the same local network as the laptop, call up the Windows 10 notification area (the cartoon icon next to the clock) and press the Connect button to view the connection options. If you do not see it, first click on the Expand item, in order to make all the quick buttons visible.

Finally, wait a few moments for the laptop PC to appear in the list of available monitors and click on it to establish the connection: if necessary, authorize the connection between the two devices by responding in the affirmative to the warnings that appear on the notebook (and by typing, if requested, the connection PIN on the computer to be projected) and that’s it.

You can choose the screen duplication mode in a similar way to what I explained to you in one of the previous sections of this guide.

If you decide to leave the options related to the wireless display on your notebook unchanged, you will not have to access the projection settings, for the next connections: you just need to launch the Connect application available in the Start menu, to enable the receiver.

Note: you can, at any time, call up the “proprietary” Start menu of the notebook on which you are projecting the screen, simply by placing the mouse cursor on the lower edge of the display.


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