Man with Two Computer MonitorsSometimes your computer screen can feel mighty small. Adding a second monitor might be just what you need; it can certainly be a much cheaper option at times than buying a bigger monitor.

However, perhaps your computer screen doesn’t want to share, and adding a second monitor doesn’t always go as smoothly as just plugging it in. If your computer has trouble detecting your second monitor, then there are a few areas you can look in to discover the problem and get back to playing Call of Duty.

Why would I need a second monitor?

A second monitor may seem like a luxury, but many people prefer the options available with two monitors on a computer. Having dual monitors can mean less switching back and forth between documents when using just one monitor; you can just look from one monitor to the other to compare documents.

Having two monitors can also allow you to view two different websites at one time, or dedicate one monitor to a particular site or need, such as having one monitor on your email at all times to ensure you don’t ever miss a new message.

Two monitors can be beneficial whether you are using them for business or play. However, you have to get them both working at the same time first!

How do I know if I can use a second monitor?

In order to install a second monitor, you need to first ensure that your computer has the capability to use dual monitors. A desktop or laptop needs to have a video card that will accommodate two monitors.

To inspect your desktop computer’s video card, look at the back of your computer where the monitor cord plugs into the tower. If you see a second plug outlet identical to the one your monitor uses—called a DVI connector—then your desktop computer has the capability to use dual monitors if you so choose. On a laptop, you will need just one DVI connector, because the monitor is already connected.

However, if you only see the one plug used by your monitor on your desktop, then your desktop computer has on-board video rather than a video card, and you cannot use two DVI monitors without buying and installing a video card that can accommodate two separate monitors. Buying and installing such hardware as a new video card is certainly possible, but it requires accessing the motherboard to do so.

On a laptop, if you don’t have an additional DVI connector, then you likely can’t add an additional monitor that requires a DVI connector. You probably have the ability to connect your laptop to a monitor, projector, or television, but it will show the same images as your laptop’s monitor. Another option for a laptop would be to use a video adapter.

However, there might be one more option. Both laptops and desktops can also usually connect to a second monitor if the computer has an HDMI—or High Definition Multimedia Interface—connector outlet. Of course, the monitor will also have to accept a connection with an HDMI cable as well.

How do I install a second monitor?

If your computer can accept a second monitor, or you have bought and installed a video card, then you are ready to install your second monitor. First, connect the second monitor to your computer using the appropriate cord and turn your computer on.

On a PC, access the Control Panel and click the Appearance and Personalization choice. Choose ‘Display’ and then ‘Change Display Settings’; you can also access this by right-clicking on your desktop—the home screen that holds your icons—and choosing ‘Personalize,’ then ‘Display’ and then ‘Change Display Settings’.

You should see both monitors represented in picture form, one with a large 1 and the other with a large 2. If you don’t see both monitors, choose ‘Detect.’ Then, choose ‘Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor’ to activate the second monitor.

For a Mac computer, choose ‘Preferences’ then ‘Display.’ Then, choose ‘Detect Display’ to activate the second monitor.

How do I troubleshoot if the second monitor doesn’t work?

If you are not up and running with two different monitors, then there are a few items you can check. Obviously, ensure that both monitors are connected to your computer and plugged into a power source.

Then, check your display settings to make sure that the second monitor is detected. Next, look for updates to accommodate the new hardware.

Your next step would be to update the display drivers for your computer and/or the monitors. If your computer has trouble detecting a second monitor, then the most likely culprit is the driver for either your monitors or the display on your computer, and updating or loading the driver will solve the problem.