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Connect a monitor to the notebook
In the following chapters, we will see which cables we can use to establish the connection between the laptop and the monitor on our desk. obviously, we have to choose the right cable based on both the video sockets on the notebook and the sockets on the monitor, carefully checking the side of the laptop and the back of the monitor we intend to use. Once the connection is established, just adjust Windows 10 or macOS to immediately take advantage of the new monitor.
Cables to be used for connection
The most used cable to connect laptop and fixed monitor is without a doubt HDMI, really easy to use and available on Amazon at a good price.
To use it, all we have to do is insert one of the two sockets into the HDMI port of the laptop and insert the other socket into the HDMI port on the back of the monitor.
On some laptops there is also a socket mini-HDMI, smaller than the original but compatible with traditional HDMI ports found on monitors; the mini-HDMI / HDMI cable can be bought on Amazon at a very affordable price.
This cable can be connected easily, by inserting the mini-HDMI socket on the laptop socket of the same name and inserting the classic HDMI socket on the back of the fixed monitor.
If the monitor has a DisplayPort port, we can rely on an adattatore DP-HDMI, always available on Amazon.
To use this cable, we connect the adapter to the DisplayPort port behind the monitor and use a simple HDMI cable to connect the notebook, obviously using the classic HDMI port on the laptop.
Another popular type of cable on older MacBooks is the mini-DisplayPort, which can be connected without problems to an HDMI port with a special customized cable, on Amazon, for less than 20 €.
To use this cable we plug the mini-DisplayPort socket inside the MacBook and the other end (a standard HDMI socket) into the monitor’s HDMI port.
The latest popular standard in terms of video cables is the Type-C/HDMI, also called ThunderBolt. This cable features a USB Type-C socket and a traditional HDMI socket and is available on Amazon for less than € 20.
This cable can be used by connecting the end that has the USB Type-C socket to one USB Type-C port on the laptop (or a Thunderbolt port on MacBooks) and connecting the other end (in this case a simple HDMI socket) to the back of the monitor.
If the monitor we own is very recent, we can also find a USB Type-C socket on the back or on one of the sides, to be used for the video signal; in this case, we can rely on a full USB Type-C cable, available on Amazon at a very competitive price.
In this case, we can connect the monitor as if it were a simple USB peripheral, using a free USB Type-C socket and connecting the USB Type-C socket on the back of the monitor.
If we own an old monitor with a DVI video dam, we suggest you focus on the DVI-HDMI cable, available on Amazon for less than 10 €.
To use this cable we connect the HDMI socket to the laptop and the DVI socket to the monitor; if necessary we can also do the reverse procedure, connecting the DVI socket to the laptop (if very old) and the HDMI socket to the monitor.
If we have a quite old monitor with a VGA socket we can also take advantage of the little one VGA-HDMI adapter, available on Amazon for less than 10 €.
In this case, the connection can only be in one direction: we connect the adapter to the HDMI socket of the laptop, then we connect the VGA cable to the adapter and to the rear socket of the monitor in order to transmit the video signal.
To discover other video cables that we can use, we suggest you read our guide Differences between types of computer cables, ports, sockets, and connectors.
How to set up the monitor on Windows 10
After choosing the right cable to connect the notebook and the monitor we need to adjust Windows 10 to use the monitor as a new screen. To proceed, we make the video connection with the cable, press the icon in the notification area at the bottom right, press the icon Project and we choose how to project the image on the monitor.
We use the voice Doubles to duplicate everything that happens on the laptop screen; to extend the desktop instead we press on the item Extend. If we want to use only the fixed monitor we use the voice Second screen only, so as to turn off the notebook screen and use only the newly connected monitor.
If the monitor does not work or nothing is shown, press the Start menu at the bottom left, open the app Settings, click on the menu System, let’s go to the section Screen and, scrolling down, we press the button Detect to force monitor detection.
How to set up the monitor on MacBook
To use a second monitor on the MacBook, use one of the cables designed for use on Macs and, once connected, press the Apple symbol at the top left, let’s go to the menu System Preferences, click on the item Monitor, we press on the card Layout and check if the additional monitor is present.
With the basic settings, the desktop will be extended and it will be possible to use the monitor as a new portion of the screen; if we need to duplicate the screen, all we have to do is check the box Duplicate monitor, present in the screen seen above.
Connecting the monitor to a laptop is definitely a simple operation, especially if we choose the right cable to use! The simple HDMI cable may not be enough, as new standards and new types of video jacks have come out on the market over the years, so be prepared before proceeding with the actual connection.
If we want to connect the monitor without using a cable, wirelessly, we advise you to read our guides Use the TV as a wireless secondary display on your PC (Windows 10) e Project Windows 10 on TV with Miracast (wireless connection to screen).