How to connect two monitors to laptop with available ports on laptop and monitor?

How to connect two monitors to laptop

The laptop is a great portable device to work anywhere on the go. However, with the increasing workload, you may find the laptop screen is smaller, and you may want to have a bigger screen display. In some scenarios, you may feel to get two or more monitors connected to your laptop so that your work gets much easier than working on a laptop’s small screen. It’s possible to connect two monitors to laptop and get the most out of the laptop’s available ports and processing power.

In this article, we will see how to connect two monitors to laptop using available ports on your laptop. There is no surprise that MacBooks come with only one Type C port. Many modern laptops are coming with fewer ports, and we have to adjust with the scenario and find a workaround to connect multiple monitors to Laptop. We will see every method depending upon the available ports on your laptop and the limitations of the ports version, connecting monitors resolution, and the trick to connect monitor to laptop even if laptop doesn’t have VGA, display out or HDMI port.

What is the difference between Extend and Mirror?

Before you know how to connect two monitors to a laptop, you must know the difference between mirroring and extending the screen to Monitor.

Mirroring/Duplicating: Mirroring to monitors means the screen just gets mirrored, and whatever you do on the laptop screen gets duplicated on the connected monitors. It is useful to show the same screen to other peoples sitting in front of you OR a similar scenario.

Extending: This is a very useful mode if you want to do multitasking. In this mode, the monitor screen gets extended with the laptop screen. You can move the cursor from the laptop screen to a connected monitor as if it is an extension to the laptop screen. This mode is useful for multitasking, and you can open two different apps/software on the laptop screen and monitor screen. For Example, you can open work email on laptop screen and the programming code on the monitor’s big screen in verticle mode and the browser window on the second connected monitor.

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Things you must know before connecting two monitors to laptop

You should know some things that will help you decide what things you should arrange or buy and what sacrifices you have to make/limitations you will face.

A. Check which ports are available on your laptop

The laptop’s available ports will be crucial in deciding the method to connect two monitors to laptop. Make a list of the available ports on your laptop. We will see the useful ports for connecting monitors and their limitations in the coming section of the article.

B. Find out the Port Version

The port version is the deciding factor that will help choose the right method to connect two monitors to laptop and helps to buy compatible cables. You can get the ports version on laptop manufacturer’s website or the user’s guide that came with the laptop when you bought it.

C. Decide which cables to use (and buy the best cable if you don’t have them)

Based on the available ports on both laptop and monitor, we will decide what type of cable to use. If you don’t have a particular cable with you, buy them online or from a local shop. We have provided best buy links in the cables section below.

D. Type of ports used to connect the monitor

You must the types of ports that can be used to connect the external monitor to laptop. We will see all the ports used for display out and their limitations.

  1. HDMI Port – This port is nowadays available on many laptops and is widely used to connect the video audio out. HDMI version 1.2 supports up to 1920 x 1080, i.e., 1080p, HDMI standard 1.3 supports up to 3840 × 2160 (i.e., 4K) at 60 Hz, HDMI port 2.0 supports 5K@30 Hz, and the latest HDMI 2.1 supports 8K@30Hz.
  2. VGA Port
    VGA Cable to connect external monitor
    This connector is an analog signal port and compatible with many different resolutions at different frequencies. This connector has a 15 pin design and bulky in size. Many laptop manufacturers are now avoiding this post because it is taking more space, and of course, the new port technologies have arrived that perform multifunctional work.
  3. DVI port – This is also a digital port, and the connection is seamless. However, it would help if you got the dual-link channel DVI connector and cable to get the max resolution on the external monitor.
  4. DisplayPort (DP)
    DP’s are the most reliable port, and many laptops still use the DisplayPort for their capability to get the output of 4K 30Hz even on the oldest version 1.1. The latest DisplayPort 2.0 can connect multiple monitors are once and can deliver 4K resolution. The mini-DisplayPort also has a popular option nowadays in laptops.
  5. USB Type-C port – Many laptops now come with the USB Type-C port with compatibility to perform many things. You can use the type c port to connect the monitor, external hard drive, ethernet cable, USB mouse/keyboard, etc., at once. You must confirm that your laptop’s type C port can carry the video-out combability, and then you can buy the multi-port adaptor to use the Type-C port to connect two monitors to laptop at once.

Once you confirm the port versions, you can now decide what type of cables and connectors you will need to connect multiple monitors to laptop.

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Selecting the right cable and buying the best converter/multi-adaptor.

  1. HDMI to HDMI cable – This is sweet, straightforward, and cheap. If your laptop and Monitor both have an HDMI port, you just require an HDMI-to-HDMI cable. Buy the best HDMI-to-HDMI cable on Amazon.
  2. HDMI to VGA cable – If your laptop has an HDMI port, but the monitor has a VGA port, then you must purchase a quality HDMI to VGA converter. Buy the best HDMI to VGA cable from Amazon.
  3. DP to HDMI converter – If your laptop has DisplayPort and the monitor has an HDMI port, you can get the DP to an HDMI converter. Buy the best DP to HDMI converter from Amazon.
  4. USB C to HDMI adaptor – The modern laptops come with a Type-C port alone with no other ports for connecting an external monitor. You can buy the best USB C to HDMI adaptor. Connect the adaptor to the Type-C port of the laptop and then connect your HDMI to HDMI cable at another end of the adaptor.
  5. Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable – If your monitor has an HDMI port and the laptop has a Mini Display Port, you can buy the best Mini Display Port to HDMI cable from Amazon.
  6. VGA to HDMI Adaptor – If your laptop has a VGA output and the monitor has HDMI input, then you can buy the best VGA to HDMI adaptor. These cables come with an additional Audio cable to get the audio out functionality.
  7. USB Type-C Multiport Adaptor – You can get a Multiport Adaptor for your laptop with a Type-C port (especially for MacBook laptops). These adaptors have multiple ports such as HDMI, VGA, DP, Ethernet, USB 3, SD card reader, type C charging port, etc. You can buy the multiport adaptor according to your need and required ports. Check out the best Type-C multiport adaptors on Amazon.

Likewise, you can choose the cable or adaptor/converter based on the available ports on your laptop and external monitor.

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Now that you know what type of cables you need and have bought/gathered all the necessary accessories, it’s time to know how to connect two monitors to laptops.

How to connect two monitors to laptop using available ports?

Based on the available ports on your computer and monitors, the steps may vary, but the idea behind connecting the two laptops is similar. We will see the most common scenarios and the method/cables required to connect multiple external monitors to the laptop.

Scenario 1

I have a laptop with 1 HDMI port, 1 USB type C port. My monitor-1 has a 1 HDMI port, and my old monitor-2 has a VGA port. With these available ports, I will explain to you I connected my two monitors to laptop –

  1. With HDMI to HDMI cable, I have connected Monitor-1 using the laptop’s HDMI port.
  2. Now I have purchased a type C to VGA cable. Now I can connect Monitor-2 to the laptop using a type C port.
  3. You can also buy one multi-port type C adaptor, which has HDMI and VGA out ports. Then connect monitor-1 using HDMI to HDMI cable and connect monitor-2 using VGA to VGA cable.

Scenario 2

The laptop has an HDMI and mini Display Port, Monitor-1 has an HDMI port, Monitor 2 has a VGA port.

  1. Connect Monitor-1 to laptop with HDMI to HDMI cable.
  2. Buy Mini DisplayPort to VGA cable, then connect monitor-2 using this cable.

Scenario 3

The laptop has a Mini Display port and USB Type-C port, Monitor-1 has an HDMI port, Monitor-2 has an HDMI port.

  1. Buy Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable or adaptor; then, you can connect Monitor-1 using that cable/adaptor.
  2. Buy USB C to HDMI cable, and then you can connect the Monitor-2 using that cable.

Scenario 4

The laptop has an HDMI port and USB 3.0 port, Monitor-1 has an HDMI port, Monitor-2 has an HDMI Port.

  1. Connect Monitor-1 using HDMI to HDMI cable with the help of an HDMI out port on the laptop.
  2. Buy USB to HDMI adaptor. You can now connect Monitor-2 using HDMI to HDMI cable.

Scenario 5

The laptop has only a Type-C port, Monitor-1 has an HDMI port, Monitor 2 has a VGA port.

This case scenario will occur mostly in Macbook laptops (Apple has decided to give only one port, i.e., Type-C, on some MacBook laptops).

  1. Buy Multiport Type C adaptor that has HDMI out and VGA out ports.
  2. Now you can connect this adaptor to the Type C port of the laptop.
  3. Connect Monitor-1 using HDMI to HDMI cable and Monito-2 using VGA to VGA cable.

Some modern External Monitors have a Type-C port that can be used as a Video-in and Audio-In. You can then directly use Type-C to type-C cable to connect such monitor with up to 8K video-out compatibility and Dolby Atmos audio support.

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How to manage and arrange multiple monitors connected to laptop

You can manage the connected monitors to a laptop and arrange them as per your physical arrangement in accordance with the laptop.

Once you connect the monitors to laptop, go to the settings and click on the System option. Then click on the Display option. You can now change the following settings –

1. Identify Monitors –

identify monitors

Windows 10 assign each monitor a unique number so that you can manage each laptop or arrange it as per your preferences. Click on Identify button to know the number of connected screens.

2. Arrange Monitors –

You can arrange the monitors based on the physical locations with reference to the laptop.

For example, if your laptop is at the most left end, Monitor-1 is placed at the right side of the laptop, and Monitor-2 is placed at the right side of the monitor-1. You can arrange the monitors by dragging the numbers assigned to each screen. If the laptop screen is assigned a number 1, Monitor-1 as 2, and Monitor-2 as 3, then with your monitor arrangement, you can drag and arrange numbers as 1-2-3.

If Monitor-2 is placed above monitor-1, you can arrange the numbers as 1 – 2 and place 3 above 2. You can check the below image for reference.

monitor screen arrangements

3. Monitor Orientation –

You can change monitor orientation to Portrait or Landscape. This is helpful if your one monitor is placed in portrait mode with the programming code on it.

select display orientation
  • First of all, identify which monitor you are going to place vertically.
  • Then click on the assigned number (the selected number will be displayed in blue color).
  • Scroll below, and under “Display Orientation” you can select the orientation of the monitor’s screen.

4. Extend or Duplicate?

extend display to connected monitor


You can decide the functions of the connected monitors. If you want to replicate the laptop’s screen as it is, then select Duplicate these Displays. If you want to extend the displays, then select “Extend these displays“.

In some cases, you may want to hide any of the displays. You can select to hide that particular display from the “Multiple Displays” option.

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5. Display Resolution –

Any of your connected displays are blurry? Then you should change the resolution of that display.

select display resolution
  • Identify which monitor has a resolution issue.
  • Then click on the assigned number to that monitor (the selected number will be shown in blue color).
  • Scroll below, and under “Display Resolution” you can change the recommended resolution that best suits the screen.

6. Make particular display as default –

You can make any display as a default display, and all your desktop files will be shown to that monitor.

select main display
  • Please select the number assigned to monitor which you want to make it default monitor.
  • Then scroll below and tick mark on the option “Mark this my Main Display“.

7. View Display properties and change the refresh rate of the connected monitor –

  • Click on the “Advanced Display Properties” option.
  • On the new screen, you can select the monitor’s name.
  • You can now view the max desktop resolution you can set on the selected monitor and the active signal resolution set currently on the selected monitor.
    connected display resolution and refresh rate
  • You can change the refresh rate from the setting here and save the changes.

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So that everything on how to connect two monitors to laptop. If you have any queries/doubts regarding the information provided or need more info on your specific problem, you may write in the comment section below.