Having a dual monitor setup is crucial for a productive workflow. If you have never used a dual monitor setup, it can be a bit confusing. It definitely has a learning curve to it though. This article guides you on how to setup dual monitors in windows 10 using HDMI, DP, DVI, or VGA.
Things you will need
Before you can start setting up your dual monitors the way you would like them to, let’s look at some of the things you will need to be able to do so.
I am breaking down this article into two sections, making it easier for you to read the one that is more relevant to you.
1. Setting up dual monitors on a desktop PC
Desktop PCs usually have more than one display output. Before you go ahead and buy another monitor, make sure you know which display output port is available on your system and get the one that will be supported on that port. Yes, you can get converters as well but unless you are using a monitor that you already have, I don’t suggest using a dongle or a cable.
As you can see in the image, there are 4 output ports on the system. A DP, VGA, and two DVI ports. As long as you have system resources to power up all four ports at the same time, you can connect up to 4 monitors to this PC.
Once you know which port is available, go ahead and get a monitor that supports that port and a cable to connect the monitor to one of these ports.
If you have a laptop, check out my guide on how to setup dual monitors with a Laptop that goes into detail on ports and other devices.
2. Setting up dual monitors on a laptop
Setting up dual monitors on a laptop can be a bit tricky at times. But as long as you know which model laptop you have, finding support is very easy and there is always a community of people with the same laptop and similar issue.
The first thing to check is to find out if your laptop has any display outputs. Usually, there is one in some of the laptops, but if yours has two, great.
But if your laptop has only one or no display output ports at all, how do you setup dual monitors?
The solution is to either use a USB adapter or a docking station. Depending on your budget and requirement, you can choose one or the other.
2.1 USB Display Adapters
USB display adapters are like any other adapters you might have used in the past. You connect your monitor cable to the adapter and that can be connected to your laptop. You might have to look around to find the best adapter that fits your laptop. But that means, if your laptop does not have any display output ports, you will have to buy two adapters. If you decide to use two USB display adapters to setup dual monitors on a laptop, I suggest you also buy a USB hub to make sure you have available ports to connect more USB devices as required.
2.2 Docking Stations
Using multiple USB display adapters will create more clutter on your desk and might not be very reliable sometimes. If that’s the case, and you don’t want to buy multiple adapters, you can buy a docking station for your laptop.
I personally love docking stations. Even though I only have a single monitor setup, if I decide to setup dual monitors on my laptop, I will definitely get a docking station.
Docking stations are not cheap though. A decent docking station will cost you anywhere around $100-$200. There are some cheaper ones, but you get what you pay for. Docking stations don’t just help you extend your laptop’s screen but they provide different other options. For eg. An ethernet port, multiple monitor outputs(depends upon the docking station that you get), multiple USB ports, audio outputs, and much more.
They also make your desk setup super clean, as the station will be the central hub that powers all your devices. You can install the docking station on your desk and put the laptop away or under the desk (if possible).
If none of these fit your requirement, you can also use an iPad as a second display and connect it wirelessly on Windows 10 or Mac.
Once you have settled on how you would like to connect a second monitor to your PC / Laptop, lets see how you can set them up.
Dual Monitor Setup Windows 10
Once you have connected both of the monitors, and assuming they are detected by the system,
- Right-click on the desktop and click on “Display Settings”
- Under “Rearrange your display” you should see two monitors. 1 and 2 assuming you have two monitors connected.
- If you don’t’ see two screens, you might have to do some troubleshooting which I have mentioned below.
- You might see 1|2 which is fine, that means both of the displays are connected but you just need to play around with the settings.
Managing The Dual Screens How You Want It
- Right-click on the Desktop > Display Settings
- Scroll towards the bottom of the page and under “Multiple displays”, click on the box and select “Extend these displays”
- Scroll to the top and you should see screen 1 and 2
- Depending on how and where you place these screen in this window, your real monitors will behave and react in the same way
- If you don’t know which screen is which, for eg which monitor is the ‘1’ screen and which one is ‘2’, click on Identify and you will see the number displayed on the bottom left corner of the screen
- Now click-hold and drag the boxes around to place them as you would want your setup to be.
- Make one of the monitors as your main monitor. Doing this, every app you open will be opened on this monitor and all the desktop icons will be shifted onto that screen if they were not.
- For eg in the image below, Screen 1 is my main monitor, and Screen 2 is my second monitor. They are physically placed the same way they have been set up, so to go to my second screen I can only get to it if I drag my mouse all the way to the bottom of screen 1. Any application that I open, opens on Screen 1 as this is my main display.
Play around this and set them up the way you would want them to setup.
There are numerous different scenarios that might occur when you try to setup dual monitors in windows 10. I’ve mentioned some of the most common ones below.
Windows 10 does not detect my second monitor – Look for any hardware faults first. Try connecting just one monitor at a time and see if they are detected by the system before connecting both. The solution to this is to get the latest display drivers for your system, latest driver update should fix this issue.
I bought an adapter with two ports and my screens are only duplicated – Sounds like you have bought a Display splitter and not a proper adapter/dongle. These splitters will only display the same content on the monitors that are connected to two ports of the splitter.
If you need further assistance and Windows 10 gives you the didn’t detect another screen error message, read this article.