How to Use Laptop as a Monitor (4 Easy Ways)

In this article, we talk about what it’s like using a laptop as a monitor, why it’s beneficial, and how to set it up if that’s what you want.”

You can use a simple process to turn your monitor into an additional display device, a streaming option, or a display for chat and messaging.

Connecting Laptop to Monitor

The process for connecting your laptop to your monitor is very simple.

First, you will need to determine which type of connection you are going to use.

You will have two options here, HDMI or VGA. For the best picture quality and highest resolution, HDMI is the preferred option.

HDMI also allows for multiple monitors to be connected at once to one laptop and can give you 5.1 surround sound when used with a home theater system.

This doesn’t mean VGA won’t work though as it will still give you a good picture in a lower resolution than HD.

Illustration of how the ‘Laptop as Monitor’ works:

1) Plugin both your laptop and desktop (or TV) into power sources. 

2) Connect both laptops’ HDMI ports if they are compatible with each other. If the laptop does not have an HDMI port, connect the monitor’s VGA connector to the HDMI port instead. 

3) Turn on your laptops’ displays with their individual buttons. (If they both need to be on at the same time, you’ll have to disconnect one.) 

4) The laptop will show up in Windows as Desktop PC (or sometimes as a TV). If it already is listed as a desktop or TV, make sure it’s turned on accordingly in Settings > System > Display. 

5) All your desktop settings will be shown here. The laptop screen won’t respond to touch or be a touchscreen. 

6) You can make your laptop’s screen resolution much higher than it is, e.g. 2560 x 1080 instead of 1920 x 1080, for extra space and clarity. 

7) Similarly, you can put your desktop’s full-screen games on the laptop instead of squinting at the regular size on your desktop monitor while sitting across the room in your comfy chair.

You might also use it when you want to share your screen with somebody else or get more people involved in the computer game you’re playing. 

8) If you have a wireless keyboard, mouse, or gamepad, you can use that. Otherwise, your laptop’s trackpad will have to do. 

9) Have fun!

How to Use Laptop as a Monitor:

Using HDMI Wire

  • Insert the male end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI port of the desktop computer and plug in all connections securely.
  • Insert the female end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI port of your laptop and plug in all connections securely.
  • Turn on both your computer and your laptop with their individual power buttons (If they need to be on at the same time, disconnect one for now).
  • The Laptop will show up in Windows as Desktop PC (or sometimes as a TV).
  • If it already is listed as a desktop or TV, make sure it’s turned on accordingly in Settings > System > Display. All your desktop’s settings will be shown here.
  • The laptop screen won’t respond to touch or be a touchscreen. Turn off your computer.
  • Disconnect both the HDMI cables and reboot your laptop, then turn on your wireless keyboard, mouse or gamepad if needed.
  • Click the Start button (if you’re using Windows) or press the Windows key (if you’re using Mac), then type “Device Manager” and press Enter.
  • Expand “Display adapters” and look for your computer’s name under the “Other devices”.
  • Under this, you’ll see the name of your laptop. Right-click on the name and select Properties.
  • The laptop screen won’t respond to touch or be a touchscreen. You can make your laptop’s screen resolution much higher than it is, e.g. 2560 x 1080 instead of 1920 x 1080, for extra space and clarity.
  • Similarly, you can put your desktop’s full-screen games on the laptop instead of squinting at the regular size on your desktop monitor while sitting across the room in your comfy chair.
  • If you have a wireless keyboard, mouse, or gamepad, you can use that. Otherwise, your laptop’s trackpad will have to do.
  • You can maximize your laptop to full screen as easily as you can on your desktop.
  • You might also use it when you want to share your screen with somebody else or get more people involved in the computer game you’re playing.

Using VGA Cable

  1. Insert the male end of the VGA (Vidio Graphics Array) cable into the monitor’s connection and plug in all connections securely.
  2. Insert the female end of the VGA cable into the monitor’s connection and plug in all connections securely, then reboot your laptop while holding down the alt/option key and restarting it with the power button, etc. (it varies according to your laptop).
  3. Turn on both your computer and your laptop with their individual power buttons, then it should be able to detect it.
  4. The Laptop will show up in Windows as Desktop PC (or sometimes as a TV).
  5. If it already is listed as a desktop or TV, make sure it’s turned on accordingly in Settings > System > Display.
  6. All your desktop’s settings will be shown here. The laptop screen won’t respond to touch or be a touchscreen.
  7. Turn off your computer. Disconnect both the VGA cables and reboot your laptop, then turn on your wireless keyboard, mouse, or gamepad if needed.
  8. Click the Start button (if you’re using Windows) or press the Windows key (if you’re using Mac), then type “Device Manager” and press Enter.
  9. Expand “Display adapters” and look for your computer’s name under the “Other devices”. Under this, you’ll see the name of your laptop.
  10. Right-click on the name and select Properties. The laptop screen won’t respond to touch or be a touchscreen.
  11. You can make your laptop’s screen resolution much higher than it is, e.g. 2560 x 1080 instead of 1920 x 1080, for extra space and clarity.
  12. Similarly, you can put your desktop’s full-screen games on the laptop instead of squinting at the regular size on your desktop monitor while sitting across the room in your comfy chair.
  13. If you have a wireless keyboard, mouse, or gamepad, you can use that. Otherwise, your laptop’s trackpad will have to do.
  14. You can maximize your laptop to full screen as easily as you can on your desktop.
  15. You might also use it when you want to share your screen with somebody else or get more people involved in the computer game you’re playing.

Using DVI or VGA adapter

  1. Insert the male end of the DVI (Digital Visual Interface) or VGA adapter first and plug in all connections securely, then reboot your laptop while holding down the alt/option key and restarting it with the power button, etc. (it varies according to your laptop).
  2. Connect one end of the HDMI cable into your laptop screen, then insert the female end of the HDMI cable into your desktop computer’s display port.
  3. You might need to turn on both your computer and your laptop with their individual power buttons (If they need to be on at the same time, disconnect one for now).
  4. The Laptop will show up in Windows as Desktop PC (or sometimes as a TV). If it already is listed as a desktop or TV, make sure it’s turned on accordingly in Settings > System > Display.
  5. All your desktop settings will be shown here. The laptop screen won’t respond to touch or be a touchscreen.
  6. Turn off your computer and, if needed, disconnect the DVI cable and restart your laptop again to get rid of all the pointer arrows that are on your screen while you’re trying to configure it properly.
  7. Now you can open the Device Manager by clicking Start > Run and typing “devmgmt.msc”. Expand “Display adapters” and look for your computer’s name under the “Other devices” section.
  8. Right-click on the name and select Properties. The laptop screen won’t respond to touch or be a touchscreen.
  9. You can make your laptop’s screen resolution much higher than it is, e.g. 2560 x 1080 instead of 1920 x 1080, for extra space and clarity.
  10. Similarly, you can put your desktop’s full-screen games on the laptop instead of squinting at the regular size on your desktop monitor while sitting across the room in your comfy chair.
  11. If you have a wireless keyboard, mouse, or gamepad, you can use that. Otherwise, your laptop’s trackpad will have to do.
  12. You can maximize your laptop to full screen as easily as you can on your desktop.
  13. You might also use it when you want to share your screen with somebody else or get more people involved in the computer game you’re playing.

Wireless Connection

To use your laptop as a monitor wirelessly, here are the simple steps.

  1. Go to the Settings of the laptop that will be your second screen
  2. Select System
  3. Click on “Projecting to this PC”
  4. Go ahead and choose your settings
  5. Now head over to the other PC or laptop
  6. Press Win-P and click on Connect to a wireless display
  7. Wait until your other laptop is detected
  8. Select it and choose whether to duplicate or extend

Why Use a Laptop as a Monitor?

There are also many different reasons why you may want to use your laptop as an additional display device. Some common scenarios include:

A laptop is a gaming machine used to play games with players online.

The player using the laptop wishes they could see what is happening on their monitor in real-time without having to look directly at it.

This is easily accomplished by utilizing the laptop as a display for the other monitor.

Streaming video content such as YouTube, Netflix, and so on can be viewed through a monitor by utilizing the laptop as an extended display.

The ability to extend your screen can make watching content much more comfortable and enjoyable.

Chatting in multiplayer situations like Xbox Live or PSN can be done on a second display.

Written By Callum Wright

With a background as a business owner for a company wokring with 3D animation and Visual Effects, Callum is just the person you need when you need help regarding laptops for professional use like graphics designing, photo editing, and general business administration.

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