How To Set Up Multiple Monitors On Windows 10
Whether you’re content creator, programmer, data analyst, gamer, or someone who’s recently been forced to work from home, a system with multiple monitors not only looks great, but it can significantly improve productivity when multitasking with several apps. However, a multi-monitor setup is only practical as long as you configure it correctly.
Windows 10 has several features and settings to support one, two, three, four, and even more monitors without the need for third-party software for the best experience.
In this Windows 10 guide, we’ll walk you through a bunch of tips to configure and use a multi-monitor setup, whether you’re connecting an external display to your laptop, or you’re connecting two, three, or more monitors to your workstation.
Graphics Or Video Cards On The Device Should Support Two Displays
Secondly, the laptop should have a graphics card installed that supports multiple displays necessarily.
How to check if the graphics card on the laptop supports multiple displays?
If you have a Windows 10 laptop, right-click on the empty space. Go to NVIDIA control panel> system Information> Display.
You will find the graphic card used in your laptop like GeForce MX 130. GeForce GTX 1660 or so. Now, google your query. For instance, does support multiple display technology? You will get the desired answer in the results.
If your graphic card does not support multiple displays, you will have to replace it with one that does.
How To Set Up A Windows 10 Laptop To Work With Two Monitors
There are four options to choose from when using two monitors with a Windows 10 laptop. Here’s how to get started with additional screens.
Microsoft Windows 10 makes it easy to set up and customize multiple monitor setups. This is particularly useful when using a laptop, since the screen may be somewhat small or not as bright as a dedicated monitor. Working on a larger screen is often more enjoyable and productive. The right hardware connections are required to set this up, as well as some adjustments in Windows 10 to make the content display in the way that suits the user best.
Using multiple monitors requires a Windows 10 laptop that can support one or more external monitors. The laptop will need an external display connection, such as HDMI, DVI or DisplayPort connector. If the user wishes to connect more monitors than there are laptop port available, a display hub is a way to achieve this. If the connection is DisplayPort, daisy-chaining multiple monitors together is a possibility. This means one monitor connects to the laptop and the other monitors connect to each other, forming a chain. Proper cables, adapters and possibly a hub may be required to connect the laptop to external monitors. A single external monitor is relatively simple, but adding more increases the difficulty. Another consideration is the capability of the laptop’s graphics chip. Not all can handle multiple monitors without decreasing resolution.
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Things To Check Before The Start
Generally speaking, most Windows laptops now support dual monitors, at least. But you need to make sure your laptop is capable to add two external monitors. And that depends on your Windows operating system, the capability of your graphics cards and drivers.
Windows XP/7/8/10 all support multiple monitors, so you just need to check the graphics card and ports on your laptop.
How Many Monitors Can Be Connected
In theory, the actual number of monitors that can be connected is not known however, most experts cite the limit as 10 using Windows 2000 or XP. The reason for citing 10 deals with the limitation on the display properties applet and is not necessarily due to the system. If you would like to add more than 10 monitors, you may require a custom application such as UltraMon.
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Can I Connect 2 Monitors To My Laptop With A Docking Station
Using Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C, you can connect two external monitors to a docking station on your laptop. There are some docks that only have one HDMI port or DisplayPort built in but you may still be able to connect a second display to your setup using a USB-C to HDMI cable / USB-C to DisplayPort cable.
Enhancing And Personalizing Your Monitors
After attaching an additional monitor, enhance and personalize your monitor.
Taskbar: Right-click on the taskbar, and then select Taskbar settings. Click the drop-down menus to set your taskbar preferences.
Start screen: On an extended desktop, the Start screen displays only on your primary monitor.
Background image: Right-click anywhere on the desktop, and then click Personalize. Select images, colors, and themes.
The following images show examples of different images on each screen and one image spanning both screens.
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Make Sure Your Monitors Are Compatible And Connect Them
With port information in hand, youre ready to pick out the best new monitor for your dual-display setup. We have some suggestions to help get you started and a list of budget models that are handy for saving money. Double-check to see that the monitor includes the right type of port for your open PC connection, and buy any necessary cables as well. For a smooth whole-screen experience, its a good idea to pick a monitor with a bezel-less or thin-bezel screen.
Now youre ready to position both monitors on your desk and connect them to your PC.
Customize Taskbar & Desktop Wallpaper
Windows 10 does an excellent job of identifying and establishing the best settings when connecting one or more monitors to a single PC. However, depending on your needs, you may need to modify your taskbar, desktop, and wallpaper. Read below to do so.
Step 4A: Personalize Taskbar for Each Monitor
1. Go to Desktop by pressing Windows + D keys simultaneously.
2. Then, right-click on any empty space on the Desktop and click on Personalize, as shown.
3. Here, select Taskbar in the left pane.
4. Under Multiple displays section, and toggle On the Show taskbar on all displays option.
Step 4B: Customize Wallpaper for Each Monitor
1. Navigate to Desktop > Personalize, as earlier.
2. Click on Background from the left pane and choose Slideshow under Background drop-down menu.
3. Click on Browse under Choose albums for your slideshows.
4. Set the Change picture every option to the time period after which a new image is to be displayed from the selected album. For example, 30 minutes.
5. Toggle On Shuffle option, as depicted below.
6. Under Choose a fit, Choose Fill.
This is how to setup 3 monitors on a laptop & customize taskbar as well as wallpaper.
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How To Set Up Dual Monitors On A Mac
1. Connect your second monitor to your MacBook, iMac, or Mac Mini using an HDMI cable. If your Mac device doesn’t have an HDMI port, you’ll need to connect the HDMI cable to a USB cable or hub, and then connect that to the Mac.
Your computer should recognize the new monitor right away. Both screens will go black and might flicker a bit.
2. Once the display comes back, open the System Preferences app you can click the Apple logo in the top-right corner of your screen and open it from there and select Displays.
3. Two windows will open, one on each display. The window on your main display will have more options use this window and click Arrangement at the top.
4. If you want both monitors to show the same image, check off Mirror Displays. If you want them to work separately, uncheck it.
5. Click and drag the blue boxes to match the arrangement of your monitors in real life. You can also click and drag just the white bar to pick which monitor has the Dock this will be your main monitor.
Note: If you want to use an iPad as a second monitor for your Mac, you’ll have to use the Sidecar feature. Check out our article on the feature for tips on setting it up.
Ross James contributed to a previous version of this article.
Using The Second Vga Output Of The Laptop
On most laptop computers, you can easily spot the VGA port for adding an external monitor. It should be noted that the default setting for any device added to the VGA port is the mirroring of the screen and not multi mode.
If your laptop comes with a video card or chipset installed that is capable of supporting multi monitors, you can easily choose this setting instead of the default mirror setting.
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How To Select Multiple Displays Viewing Mode On Windows 10
Using the available settings, you can also choose the viewing mode for your displays. For example, if you’re using a second monitor, you can expand the main screen to the new display, or you can mirror both monitors, which is an ideal option when showing a presentation. If you’re using a laptop with an external monitor, you can even disable the main display, and only use the second monitor as your primary.
To change the viewing mode on Windows 10, use these steps:
Under the “Multiple displays” section, use the drop-down menu to set the appropriate viewing mode:
After you complete the steps, you may need to repeat steps No. 4 and 5 to set the display mode on the remaining monitors. Also, note that using these settings, you can make any of the monitors as your primary display.
How To Connect Two Monitors Using An Hdmi Splitter
An HDMI splitter comes with a cable attached. To connect two monitors, connect one end of the HDMI splitter to the computer or laptops HDMI output port.
Now, use another HDMI cable. Connect one end of this cable to the HDMI splitters input port and another end to the computer or laptops HDMI port.
The setup will look like this: Computer/laptop an HDMI splitter a computer/ laptop .
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Aligning Multiple Monitors & Best Use
When using a Windows 10 laptop with the most popular multiple monitor option ‘Extend,’ it’s important to align the displays. Display settings will show the virtual displays side by side and number them. These numbers can be displayed on each physical monitor’s screen by clicking the ‘Identify’ button. Aligning the numbered displays that appear in Display settings will make the mouse pointer movement track appropriately. Otherwise, the mouse movement may appear to jump to an unexpected position, when it reaches the edge of one monitor and appears on the next. To align the numbered displays, simply drag them so they match the physical layout of the real world monitors. Both horizontal and vertical placement can be accounted for. Each display can have a different resolution and orientation without any issues when using ‘Extend.’
Connect Two Or More Monitors
In many cases, connecting two monitors to your laptop is as simple as plugging them into several video outputs. Depending on your portable PCs age and the graphics chipset inside, there may be hardware limitations that prevent you from doing so. Older laptops may only support two displays: the laptop display and a secondary monitor. Newer models may allow as many as three external displays. Other devices, such as Ultrabooks, hybrids, and tablets, may be limited by only having one display output or possibly none.
However, there are ways to add an extra monitor even if youve already used all the connections or your laptop doesnt have a working video output.
For devices with a DisplayPort 1.2 connection, there are a couple of options. Firstly, you can buy a DisplayPort hub that splits your single connection into multiple outputs. These splitters arent cheap, but they allow an available DisplayPort connection to power two 2,560 x 1,600 monitors and a third 1,920 x 1,200 display simultaneously. Another option is buying a monitor with daisy-chain functionality: compatible monitors use a DisplayPort output at the rear to allow you to connect multiple monitors via a single DisplayPort connection.
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How To Connect A Laptop With Dual Monitors Via An Hdmi Adapter
For this setup, you will need HDMI to DVI adapter or HDMI to VGA adapter .
To connect them together, first, connect one end of the adapter i.e. the HDMI side to your laptops HDMI port and use another end of the adapter i.e. VGA or DVI to the first external monitor.
Now, use another cable that your laptop has a port for to connect your laptop to the second external monitor. If you are using a USB-C/Thunderbolt adapter, connect the USB C side to the laptops USB-C port and connect the VGA/DVI cable from a second external monitor to this adapter. A thunderbolt connection is faster than other connections.
Now, follow the following steps:
- start your laptop and right-click on an empty space
- Go to Display Settings> Screen resolution
For Windows 10, go to Display settings and scroll down to find Multiple Displays and click on Detect to them and then go to Advanced display settings.
- You will see three displays. Display 1 as a laptop screen, display 2 and 3 as external monitors.
- Repeat the same with display 3 as well.
- Using docking station
Another way to run dual monitors with one HDMI port is by using a docking station. A docking station is like a hub system that has multiple ports of all sorts. It allows you to connect multiple devices together.
Use A Docking Station
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Hooking Up A Displayport Daisy Chain
You will need a DisplayPort cable for each monitor in the chain.
You can set up a Thunderbolt daisy chain in a similar fashion. However, with Thunderbolt, you can also use a docking station to give yourself additional Thunderbolt ports for monitors.
Switching Display Modes With Shortcut
In addition to using the Settings app, Windows 10 also allows you to switch display modes on the fly using the Project feature, which you can access using the Windows key + P keyboard shortcut.
Once you invoke the shortcut, a flyout will open from the right side with four options, including:
- PC screen only â Only the primary display is used.
- Duplicate â Secondary displays will mirror the primary monitor.
- Extend â Both screens are combined to offer an extended desktop.
- Second screen only â Only the secondary displays is used.
Typically, when using a multi-monitor setup on a desktop or laptop, you want to use the “Extend” option. This allows you to use the primary monitor normally and the secondary monitors at their native resolution creating a single large canvas.
Duplicate is a good option when using a second monitor or projector to show a presentation. In contrast, the Second screen only option is great when you want to close the lid on a laptop and work only with the external monitor.
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How Many Displays Can Your Usb
Let’s take a look at a few of our best-selling hubs and docking stations to get an idea about what display modes they support.
Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station
PowerExpand 11-in-1 USB-C Hub
1 * Thunderbolt 4, 2 * HDMI
Supports connection to 3 monitors
1 * HDMI, 1 * DisplayPort
macOS with the M1 chip only supports mirror mode and SST mode
macOS supports mirror mode, SST, and MST
Mirror mode and SST mode
mirror mode and screen expansion
Mirror mode, SST, and MST
In general, if you are a Windows user, then the majority of USB-C hubs and docking stations can support mirror mode, SST, and MST.
If you are a macOS user and want to use MST mode, you’ll need a USB-C hub or docking station that has either 2 USB-C ports or supports Thunderbolt technology.
Unfortunately, if you are a M1 MacBook user then due to the limitations of this range of MacBooks, your options are limited to mirror mode and SST mode, no matter what hub or docking station you use.
If you’re still not sure which hub or docking station is best for you, then you can take our quiz to get some tailored recommendations.