How To Set Up a Second Monitor (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Having a second monitor can increase your productivity and help you multitask during a project. There are a few different ways to connect a second monitor depending on your current setup. In this article, we discuss the benefits of a second monitor and offer a step-by-step guide for completing this process.

Related: 15 Examples of How To Increase Productivity in the Workplace

Benefits of using a second monitor

Using a second monitor has several benefits for you while you perform your daily tasks. When choosing your second monitor, selecting a larger one can provide the added benefit of even more space. When deciding whether you should set up a second monitor in your workstation, consider the following benefits:

Saves time

Sometimes, performing tasks might mean toggling back and forth between several tabs or programs. With a second monitor, you can keep multiple windows open in full view. This helps you reference several things at once, saving you the time of switching from one to the other and back.

Related: Time Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Increases your display size

For some projects, it might help to have a bigger view of whichever program or interface you use. With a second monitor, you can increase the display to fill both screens. Alternatively, you might have a second monitor that is larger than your primary one. Either way, this can help you see your project more clearly and increase the size of images and texts without blocking your view of the rest of the window.

Allows you to multitask

Having a second monitor helps you to perform two or more tasks at the same time. For instance, you might have a video conference that affects one of your projects. You can view the video conference on one screen while changing and updating your project on the other. If your software allows real-time collaboration with colleagues, you can speak with them face-to-face on one monitor while working together on your second monitor.

Related: The Art of Multitasking: Definition + 25 Examples

Helps prevent downtime

Sometimes, monitors might sometimes stop working. If this happens, you still have the option of working on your other working monitor. This can help you continue accomplishing your goals instead of waiting for IT to either fix your nonworking monitor or provide you with a new one.

How to set up a second monitor

When setting up your second monitor, consider the following steps:

1. Determine the cable you need

There are three primary types of cables you can use to connect a second monitor. The three types are DVI, VGA or HDMI. Checking the ports you have on your computer and monitor can help you determine the type of cable you might need. Some computers label the ports so you can tell what kind it needs. If yours doesn't, you can search online for images of the different port types to learn what ports you have available.

Sometimes, your computer and monitor might have two different ports available. For instance, your computer might use an HDMI output, while your monitor has a VGA input. There are cables that support two different ports, such as an HDMI to VGA cable. Also, you can find converters that help fit the cable you have to a different port. For example, an HDMI to VGA converter can fit your HDMI cable into a VGA port.

2. Arrange your monitors

Arranging your monitors is a personal choice based on how you wish to use them. You can place your second monitor to the left or right of your primary monitor to extend your display to either side. You can also place your second monitor on a shelf above your primary monitor to create a bigger vertical display, which can help display more rows on a spreadsheet, for example.

3. Connect your cables and power plugs

Once you have the cables you need, you can connect them to their proper ports. This links your computer to your second monitor. Then, you can plug your computer and monitor into power outlets if they aren't already. After you connect all the cables and plugs, you can turn on your computer and monitor.

4. Find your computer's display options

You have a couple of options to find your display menu. One way is to right-click an empty area of your desktop screen. Depending on your operating system type and version, you might see an option for either "Screen Resolution" or "Display Settings." You can also click the "Start" button, then select "Settings." From there, you can click "System." In the "System" menu, clicking "Display" should launch your display settings.

5. Arrange your monitor displays

Your display settings can show you the arrangement of both monitors. It also numbers them for you. You can set either monitor as your primary monitor. The other one then becomes your second monitor. You can click and drag the labeled images of your monitor to arrange them how you like. Usually, this means either side-by-side or stacked on top of each other. Once you have them the way you like, you can click "OK."

Tips for setting up a second monitor

There are a few tips that can help you when settings up your second monitor. These tips can help you determine how to arrange them and troubleshoot some common problems. When setting up your second monitor, consider these tips:

Determine how you want to use your monitors

How you use your monitors can help you determine how to arrange them. The way your work most comfortably can also help you find an arrangement that works for you. For instance, if your projects often involve horizontal timelines, you might find a side-by-side arrangement more helpful. If you have more space to either side, it might be helpful to arrange your second monitor on that side.

Double check your cable connections

If you have trouble with a flickering monitor or your second monitor doesn't display anything, you might have a connection problem. You can check your cables to see if they stay connected to their ports. If connecting them firmly doesn't work, you might consider trying a new cable to see if that helps.

When in doubt, consult an expert

Many companies that build computers and monitors offer technical support for users. Your company might also employ IT experts who can help guide you to a solution when setting up your second monitor. Asking for help has the added benefit of helping you learn how to solve a problem in the future. You can also use this knowledge to help your colleagues solve similar problems.

Related: How To Ask For Help at Work

Change resolution settings

It's possible that your computer and second monitor have different default display settings. If your second monitor has a higher resolution, you might want to set it to that higher resolution. If you experience any problems after doing so, consider setting it to your computer's default settings. It might be possible that your computer runs better when your second monitor matches its default settings.

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