How to set up dual monitors in Windows 10

This article will guide you on how to set up dual monitors in Windows 10. Who doesn’t want more real estate? Extra area is simply an upgrade, whether it is your house or your monitor screen size.

New technology is finding more unique ways to fit bigger screen sizes into similar-sized devices. But nothing beats a good old second screen.

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You must have seen a multiple display setup somewhere. Whether it is your favorite YouTuber rocking a rig with multiple displays or an office colleague, it is pretty standard.

If you’ve ever had to switch between Outlook and Excel enough to make you dizzy, you know it’s a blessing.

Using dual monitors, you can simultaneously display an Outlook window on one and an Excel window on another.

Maybe one monitor isn’t enough for your taskbar icons (too many open applications or pinned taskbar icons). Perhaps you can game better if you have a wider field of vision (more extensive than a single monitor).

This functionality can be extended for power users from dual monitors to a larger number of display devices.

However, the operational complexities such a display setup brings are often practical either to professional content creators or gamers only.

Hence, this guide will stick to what benefits the most users – a dual monitor setup.

It is important to note that we will use the term dual monitors to denote any display devices. The range of display devices covered in this domain also includes televisions aside from the conventional computer monitor.

Furthermore, you can use the same guide whether your Windows PC is a desktop or a laptop machine.

Table of Contents

  1. How to set up dual monitors in Windows 10
    1. Preparation
    2. Setting up dual monitors
  2. Wrap up

How to set up dual monitors in Windows 10

Preparation

Knowing if your system is even capable of displaying to a second monitor is vital. This part (determining internal capability to display to an external monitor) is relatively easy.

  • Navigate to Device Manager by typing it in the search feature in the taskbar (besides the button with the Microsoft Windows logo);
How to set up dual monitors in Windows 10

  • Once inside the Device Manager through taskbar search, expand the section under the Display Adapters section. You might see Generic Display Adapter written here;
  • This might mean your display drivers aren’t installed. However, you can install them by right-clicking and installing or installing specific drivers if you have them from the manufacturer;
  • Depending upon your hardware, you might also see more than one display adapter listed. This indicates that your system has primary (onboard, less powerful) and secondary (discrete, more powerful) display adapters for different purposes;
  • For desktops, you should check the secondary display adapter if you have a discrete graphics card installed. For laptops, you should check display adapter or graphics card names for reference;
  • In the screenshot, our system is showing Intel HD Graphics 620 powering the monitor/laptop screen. We’ll search the internet for this display adapter’s specifications directly at the manufacturer’s (Intel’s) website;

  • You’re looking for the Product Specifications page. Since this display adapter is integrated into an Intel processor, I also had to select it (Intel Core i5 7200U);

  • Under Processor Graphics, it clearly mentions that our display adapter supports up to a third monitor. Hence, there isn’t any structural barrier to us being able to set up multiple monitors (dual monitors or triple monitor setup).

But wait – this only shows if our display adapter is capable of pumping enough processing juice up to a third monitor. It also depends upon whether or not we can hook up a second monitor physically with our PC;

Oh no! The second monitor (our TV) only accepts an HDMI port as a display input. Our HP laptop device has none at all for an external monitor! No need to worry about this disagreement between your PC and your monitor;

Several minimalistic/travel-focused devices nowadays are shipped with only 1-2 USB-C ports. However, you can buy hubs/docks which convert the USB-C port to HDMI and several other (USB A, ethernet, audio jack, etc.) ports;

We had to buy one such hub to get an HDMI port for our second monitor. If you want to hook up multiple monitors using a single port, you can use an HDMI splitter.

You’ll also need an HDMI cable to hook your monitor up with your PC.

It is important to note that HDMI happens to be the option in the case we’ve discussed here. There are also several other types of ports, depending upon what is available on your monitor and your PC.

Other options for a second monitor include Display Port, VGA port, or simply USB-C. A typical professional monitor now uses USB-C as display input.

Setting up dual monitors

Make sure you have physically hooked the second monitor to the port on your desktop or laptop.

Once you connect your monitor, you should see a second monitor entry under the section Monitors in your Device Manager.

This could either be a Generic PnP Monitor or the actual name of your device. In our case, it is showing only the laptop’s screen.

If your second monitor does not appear in Device Manager, the monitor is not being detected. You should check the physical connection of the second monitor or display drivers (not the monitor but your adapter’s drivers).

If both your primary monitor and external monitor are appearing here, you’re good to go!

Ideally, the display should appear on your secondary monitor – no need to worry if you don’t see anything on your second display yet.

Unfortunately, your computer’s display settings might not yet know what to do with the external display.

There are several ways to access the Display Settings for your main screen and your monitor. One way is to right-click on any free space on your desktop and select “Display Settings” from the menu.

Another is to navigate to the Settings app, go to the “System” section, and then select the “Display” section.

You’ll also reach here by typing “Display Setting” in the Windows taskbar search and selecting the option to change brightness.

In addition, you can also right-click the brightness setting in the notification section of the taskbar to get there.

You can also get here through Control Panel (you can launch from taskbar search again). You’ll find options to detect a display, set the individual screen resolution, set orientation, and select the display mode.

Orientation is essential since people use a monitor arm or vertical monitor stand to mount multiple monitors for specific purposes. You can even set a different wallpaper for each screen in a multiple monitor setup.

By default, the resolution of a secondary monitor is its native resolution (a 4K device takes 4K). However, you can change this for both the external display and your primary monitor to suit your needs.

You’ll need to match resolutions/sizes between your primary display and monitor if you use a side-by-side dual monitor setup.

Unfortunately, a different monitor can create a Frankenstein effect, so you’ll have to adjust a few settings to make it match manually.

Another important monitor display option is how you want your additional monitor to behave. This setting can be brought up by pressing the Windows key + P or by going to the Multiple Displays section.

It pops out from the right edge of the screen, from the taskbar to the top.

In any case, your options include:

  1. PC Screen Only – Ignore the 2nd monitor and display screen only on the primary display;
  2. Duplicate screen – Display the same things on the dual monitors. Every monitor displays the same screen;
  3. Extend display – Use the dual monitor setup for an extended display stretching one screen across multiple screens. Each monitor contributes to a part of the bigger picture. Even the taskbar stretches across the screen;
  4. Second screen only – Use the secondary monitor to display everything. Use this monitor setting with great caution. This will momentarily make your main monitor go blank. This is useful if you dock in your laptop so that you can use it as a desktop CPU replacement

These are all system preferences a standard user might need to tinker with while setting up a dual screen setup.

Things can change if you plug and unplug any of your dual monitors and move to a single monitor.

We have discussed several ways to access these settings through the taskbar alone. Hence, we wouldn’t worry about handling changes to the monitor setup if you master this guide.

Wrap up

Whether you’re looking to become a Microsoft Office dynamo at work or you’re a gamer, multiple displays look cool.

But, are you not liking a window hogging all your screen real estate? Throw it around your dual monitors all you want, or dedicate one of your dual monitors to display it. Stretch your taskbar across several screens.

The power is yours – your dual monitor setup is ready to flaunt! You can use the same logic to extend beyond a dual monitor setup to display into multiple displays.

When it comes to screen real estate – the more, the merrier, and now you know how to make it happen!

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