In this guide, we show you how to use your laptop as a monitor or second screen. The main benefits of laptops are clear – they’re portable, allowing you to work freely and flexibly wherever you like. But when you’re sitting at a desk, or don’t have another display device available, most people overlook the fact you can use your laptop as a monitor.
The easiest option is to extend your laptop’s display across multiple monitors, which is a great way to boost your productivity. You can view multiple web pages or cross reference a document with ease, without flicking between loads of tabs.
Rather than simply mirroring your laptop’s screen on the monitor, by extending it, it means you can use both screens to show different apps and content.
Alternatively, you can use your laptop to extend a desktop’s display or act as another monitor. It’s a slightly more complicated process, as your laptop outputs its display only, and isn’t really designed to output the display of another device, like your TV for example.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done, however. And we’ll guide you through either option in our detailed how-to below.
How to extend your laptop display
1. How to extend your laptop display on Windows 10
First of all, you’ll need to grab the appropriate display cable for your laptop so you can hook it up to a monitor. Your laptop might use a HDMI cable, DisplayPort, mini-DisplayPort or include a docking station, so find the right cable for your needs and plug it into your monitor.
Once that’s done, open ‘Settings > Settings > Display’. You can also right-click on your desktop and click ‘Display Settings’ or use the shortcut ‘Windows key + P’ to switch between display modes quickly.
If your laptop has connected to your monitor successfully, you should see two or more numbered screens under the ‘Select and rearrange displays” section. If not, click ‘Detect’ to force Windows to search for another display.
If you’re unsure which screen is which, click ‘Identify’ and a number will pop up to signify each display. You can also rearrange your displays to suit your preference, just make sure you click ‘Apply’ once you’re done.
Scroll down to ‘Multiple displays’ and click the dropdown. From here, you can choose from a variety of options, but the ones that we’re focusing on is ‘Extend these displays’. Select it to expand your display across multiple screens, then tick which screen you’d like to make as your main display.
And that’s it! You can now work across multiple screens on your Windows 10 laptop.
2. How to extend your laptop display on macOS
To connect another display to your MacBook, check the ports on your device first to determine whether you’ll need an adaptor. Once you’ve picked the right cable for the job, plug it into your monitor and move onto the next step.
Head to the Apple menu then click ‘System Preferences > Displays’ and click the ‘Arrangement’ tab. Make sure that the box for Mirror Displays is not selected, and then arrange your displays by dragging them to your desired position. To set a different display as the primary display, simply drag the menu bar to the screen you’d like to use.
How to use your laptop as a monitor
For this scenario, we’re going to assume that you want to use your laptop as a monitor to display your Windows 10 desktop.
Go to ‘Settings > System > Projecting to this PC’. Change the first drop down menu to ‘Available everywhere on secure networks’ and configure the other settings to your liking. Once that’s done head back to your desktop PC and click on the ‘Action Center’ icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the taskbar.
Click on ‘Connect’, and when the laptop appears that you’d like to use, select it. You will then need to accept the connection request on the laptop, and type in a pin if you choose that option.
Once that’s done, right-click on your desktop and select ‘Desktop Settings’. In the display menu, make sure you select ‘Extend desktop to this display’. You can then rearrange your desktop and laptop display however you like.