How to use your laptop as a 2nd monitor

How to use your laptop as a 2nd monitor

laptop as monitor

If there’s one thing that a great deal of laptop and computer owners can admit to, it’s the fact that they have more than one device in the house.

It’s like the infamous “box of cables” that everyone keeps around their home or office. Everyone has one, and eventually your collection of unused things starts to grow.

What do you do with your old or unused laptops that might still work (but not as fast as you’d like them to for a primary system)? Throw them away?

What if we told you that you can easily use your laptop as a monitor replacement?

It’s not rocket science to get it done, and the rest of this article can tell you how to do it.

Here’s a complete and comprehensive guide that’ll tell you exactly how to use your laptop as an external PC or laptop monitor with just a few minutes worth of time.

Why Would You Want To Use Your Laptop As A Monitor?

Let’s take a few minutes before we get to the technical, step-by-step part of the article.

Why the heck would you want to use your laptop as a display monitor for anything in the first place?

Well, there are a whole lot of reasons why you might want or need to broadcast one display to another screen.

If you have a laptop that you aren’t using (but that you’d like to do something with), don’t dismantle it for parts if most of it still starts up fine!

Laptops can still be used as displays, even if they are a little slower-running than your primary devices.

As long as the screen and graphics interface are still running just fine, your unused laptops have a whole new use again.

If you have access to a PC tower without access to a monitor, it stops whatever you were hoping to do right in its tracks. Suddenly, you have to stop and wait until you can get a screen somewhere… Or do you?

Screens can also malfunction – and what do you do then, if you don’t have the time or money to mess around with a total screen replacement?

With the following guide, you can switch over to a laptop as a display in a couple of minutes.

Problems with your display, or no access to a secondary display at all?

Keep reading: just get your laptop out!

For Multiple Displays

If you’re a designer/programmer/streamer/gamer/influencer or any combination of those, then there’s good reason to broadcast your display over multiple screens.

When making use of multiple displays, each of the screens can display a separate desktop – or alternatively, you can broadcast the content on your primary device to your second screen. Both are possible!

What’s cooler than having multiple displays in front of you like you’re about to plug someone into the Matrix?

Very few things, especially if you’re a content creator who could use multiple screens to do better.

For Multiple Tasks

Multiple displays aren’t the only thing you can do with two screens. Using the multiple display option, it’s possible to have more than one desktop going.

If you multitask very often (or you’re just tired of over-using the tab-key to get things done!), multiple tasks on several screens might be the answer.

Let’s start with the first method of connecting a PC to a laptop.

How to connect your laptop to your PC and use it as a 2nd monitor

Most laptop only have an HDMI or DP output, so connecting them with a cable to your PC tower might not work as expected.

mesh wifi routers

So how can you still use your laptop as the monitor for your PC? The answer is “Miracast”.

You only need to ensure that both your PC and laptop are on the wifi network and then you can use Window’s built-in projection feature.

Here’s how it works.

Need troubleshooting first? Connecting your computer to an external display should be pretty damn easy, but the last section in this article will tell you what to do if it doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. For fixes, troubleshooting, and common issues, read the last section first!

What is Miracast?

Miracast is a way to connect your devices via WiFi instead of HDMI or Displayport cable. The support for Miracast is built into Windows 10 by default, so most devices that run the latest version of Windows will support it. It not only works for laptops and other windows devices, but also for smart TVs and the Amazon Fire Tv Stick.

HOW IT WORKS

STEP1: Configure your laptop

  1. Make sure your laptop is connected to the Wifi Network.
  2. On your laptop go to Start  > Settings  > System  > Apps & Features
  3. Click on “Optional Features”
  4. Select Add a feature and search for“wireless display.” 
  5. Select and install it. If it’s already installed you won’t need to re-install it again.

How to use your laptop as a 2nd monitor 1

 

Next go to “Start” and type in “Projection Settings” and select the options below.

How to use your laptop as a 2nd monitor 2

That’s it your laptop is now configured for display projection.

STEP2: Configure your PC

  1. Make sure your PC is connected to the same WiFi Network as your laptop (note: it won’t work if your PC is connected via Ethernet).
  2. Right click on your desktop and choose “Display Settings”
  3. Scroll down and click on “connect to a wireless display”
  4. On the panel that popped up on the right side of the screen select your laptop that you have just configured as the display source.
  5. Now go back to your laptop and click in the bottom right corner on your “notifications“. If everything worked correctly you’ll see a notification on your laptop that asks you to allow the connection to your PC. You have to allow it by clicking “ok”.

Now the Laptop will work for a few seconds to connect to your PC and if everything went correctly it will connect without any hiccups.

STEP3: Adjust the monitor settings on your PC

  1. Right click on your desktop and choose “Display Settings”
  2. Under “Multiple Displays” choose the option “extend desktop to this display”.
  3. You can also adjust resolutions and drag your laptop display to the left / right or below your main display (your main monitor) as you like.

That’s it!

Now you will have your laptop as an additional display for your PC. 🙂

You can still use your laptop as normal by clicking on “Alt + TAB” on your laptop. This will switch between the PC and your Laptop.

Troubleshooting

Can’t connect your laptop? Can’t find the Projection option?

Here’s how to fix the most common issues:

1. Check the wifi connection

Make sure, that both your PC and laptop are in the same wifi network. If one of them is plugged in via an ethernet cable this method might not work correctly.

2. Update Drivers & Software

If the issue isn’t hardware-based, it’s probably an issue with your software or drivers. A driver update (from your primary computer first – and then from your display system!) might fix the most common clashes and possible problems.

Make sure your Windows is up to date.

Does your display lag, display as lines or blocks, or just not show up at all?

Try updating your display and graphics card drivers first. USB drivers can also be an issue, if your systems are connected via a USB cable.

Restart after your update, and try working through the guide again.

Still not the issue? Let’s go to the next fix.

3. Reboot Your System

Reboot the primary computer, and make sure that the second one is running correctly. It could be necessary to reboot both systems if you are having trouble.

If a simple restart and Settings-tinkering session doesn’t fix your problem, reboot and enter the boot menu from the first computer.

4. Last Hoorah: Use A Third-Party Software

If your operating system is outdated or your computer just refuses to cast its display through the methods this article has described, there’s one more possible solution: third-party software.

Casting and broadcasting software options (installed on one or both systems) can force the connection of a second display if your operating system doesn’t support the option.

Good options here are Teamviewer or ShareMouse.

Conclusion: Laptops As Monitors (A Last Check)

Connecting your computer to a second display seems pretty high-tech, but it’s fairly easy to achieve with just a few simply steps.  Have you successfully connected a computer to a secondary display before? Share your tips with other users in the comments.

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