How to Add an Additional Monitor to Your Computer

May 4, 2009

Adding a second monitor to your PC just doesn’t make sense–until you try it. With two monitors, you can view a spreadsheet and write a report without constant minimizing and maximizing. Editing photos? Keep your tools on the secondary screen so that you can better view your
image. Troubleshooting a software problem? Keep the instructions on one screen while performing the steps on the other. Finally, stretch that wide spreadsheet across two monitors for a bird’s-eye view of all the numbers. Just find your spare monitor (or some spare cash) and some extra desk space, and we’ll show you how to start seeing double.

Before you get started with this project, we recommend that you have the following:

  • Second monitor
  • AGP or PCI video card (if your PC doesn’t have an extra video port)
  • DVI-to-VGA adapter (for monitors without DVI ports)
This PC has integrated graphics (A), a dual-output graphics card (B), and a single-output PCI card (C). The blue outputs are analog, and the white rectangular port (D) is DVI.

This PC has integrated graphics (A), a dual-output graphics card (B), and a single-output PCI card (C). The blue outputs are analog, and the white rectangular port (D) is DVI.

Now that you’ve worked out the graphics-card conundrum, connect the secondary monitor. If your card or combination of cards includes a DVI
port, you’ll probably want to connect the primary monitor to the DVI
port and the secondary monitor to the analog port. Some monitors have
dual analog and digital inputs and can take advantage of whatever
output is available. If neither monitor has a DVI port, don’t worry.
You can buy an inexpensive adapter that enables you to connect it to
your PC’s DVI port. It will still be an analog signal, however.

The next step is to turn on both monitors and boot the PC. Depending on
your PC’s configuration, you may see activity on both screens during
start-up. When the Windows desktop appears, right-click in any empty
space to open the Display Properties dialog box, then select the
Settings tab. You should see two blue rectangles, labeled “1” and “2,”
with a dotted border surrounding the latter, indicating the second
monitor is still not active. Move your mouse over the monitor 2
rectangle, and a Not Active tool tip should appear. Right-click and
check the Attached option to activate the secondary monitor.

Now set the resolution and color quality as desired and check the box
labeled “Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor.” Then drag the
monitor 2 rectangle so that the positions of the two rectangles in the
dialog box match the physical positions of the two monitors. You can
place monitor 2 above, below, or on either side of monitor 1, and with
the virtual and physical positions in agreement, you can drag the mouse
from one monitor to the other, just as if the two monitors were one
large screen.

Before you quit the Display Properties dialog box, click the Identify
button to display a large number on each monitor, which should agree
with the number placement seen in the dialog box.

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