Improving visibility with an external monitor

If you own a small laptop, you can make it easier to use by purchasing and plugging in an external monitor, which will provide you with a larger display area and the larger text and menu items will be easier to see.

Windows provides settings to control what your second monitor will display. You can choose to show an exact copy of what your main monitor is showing, or extend your desktop allowing you to have two different things happening on each monitor. For this reason, many people use an extra monitor with their computer to help boost their productivity.

First check whether your laptop has a connection plug for an extra monitor. This plug will be found either on the side of your laptop or at the back and there are two types of plugs available now. The older VGA type plug which has 15 little pins, and the newer HDMI type plug which looks like a flat version of a USB plug.

If your laptop can take an extra monitor, you can go ahead and purchase a screen and start to use it with your laptop. The size of a monitor is measured in inches and the measurement is taken of the diagonal, as in, the distance between the two opposite corners. Ensure the monitor comes with a cable that matches the type of plug on your laptop.

Two cables are provided with your monitor, one to connect the monitor to your computer, and the other for power. Right click an empty area on your desktop and select “Screen Resolution”. You should see a diagram of two monitors with a number on each. If only one appears, click the Detect button and also ensure the monitor is turned on and plugged in correctly.

Click the “Multiple Displays” dropdown list and select the setting you prefer and click apply. The extend desktop option will effectively provide you with two desktops and you can have two different things displaying on either monitor – for example, one could have a website open and the other could have a Word document open.

If you have chosen the extend desktops option, you can click and hold the top of any program window and drag it across to the other monitor. Back in the screen resolution settings, you can change the resolution of either screen by first clicking one of the numbered screen icons and then setting the resolution for that screen. If you are unsure which screen is which, click the identify button.

Finally, we suggest that if you are going to use a larger monitor on its own, you will find it more comfortable to use if you also purchase an external keyboard and mouse. That way you can move your laptop out of the way and control it totally by using the external keyboard, mouse and screen – just like you would when using a desktop computer.