How to Connect a Laptop Screen as External Monitor in Windows

Two screens are better than one!

Featured Connect Laptop Screen As External Monitor Windows11 Windows10

Windows has a built-in feature that allows you to connect a spare laptop screen as a second monitor. The projected display can be wirelessly controlled from a primary laptop as a duplicate or extended screen. This is helpful to enhance your viewing experience or when additional displays are needed but you don’t have multiple monitors.

Initial Setup of the Laptop Screens

The connectivity between the two laptop screens is launched through a feature on the Start menu: “duplicate or extend to a connected display.” It also gives you the options to adjust the additional settings.

Connect Laptop Screens Duplicate Or Extend Connected Screen

The additional settings in Windows 11 are clubbed under “Multiple displays” as presentation mode for your displays. Here you can connect to another wireless display on a secondary laptop or detect another display.

Connect Laptop Screens Multiple Displays Area Windows11

Windows 10’s “Multiple displays” menu has slightly different options for connecting a wireless display, which may not connect automatically on Windows 10 as it does on Windows 11. You have to click the “Detect” button to identify its presence.

Connect Laptop Screens Multiple Displays Window 10

How to Project Your PC

  1. From the Start menu, go to “Projection Settings.” Here you must ensure that both the primary and secondary laptop device are available everywhere on secure networks. It is useful to have a notification alert every time a connection is requested on the PC.
Connect Laptop Screens Projection Settings Windows11
  1. In both Windows 10 and 11, select “Optional features” to be able to project to your current PC.
Connect Laptop Screens Projection Settings Optional Features Select Windows11
  1. In the “Add an optional feature” sub-menu, select “View features.”
Connect Laptop Screens Projection Settings Optional Features View Features Windows11
  1. Search for the (optional) feature called “Wireless Display”. It requires Miracast-capable hardware, which is available as default on all Windows 11 machines and latest Windows 10 laptops.
Connect Laptop Screens Wireless Display Optional Feature
  1. Wait a few minutes for the wireless display feature to be installed on your Windows laptop. You have to install this for the primary as well as secondary laptop screens.
Connect Laptop Screens Projection Settings Wireless Display Installing
  1. Go to “Change the resolution of the display” from the Start menu to ensure that the primary and secondary screens have similar resolutions for best compatibility.
Connect Laptop Screens Change The Resolutions Of The Display
  1. Change the display resolution of the secondary device to match the output of the primary device, which you want to project. You can also “change the size of text apps and other items” using the Scale setting in the same section.
Connect Laptop Screens Change The Resolutions Size

If you want to reorder your displays, you can do so from a System settings option called “Rearrange multiple displays.” This identifies the laptop as “1” or “2.”

Connect Laptop Screens Rearrange Multiple Displays Windows11

Start Connecting the Two Laptops

After fixing the initial setup of both laptop screens, it’s time to connect them wirelessly using Bluetooth.

  1. Go to “duplicate or extend to a connected display” from the Start menu or press Win + P to launch a pop-up screen. Make your selection of either a duplicate display or an extension of your primary screen. Click “connect to a wireless display.”
Connect Laptop Screens Duplicate Extend Etc
  1. Select “Bluetooth and other devices settings” to ensure that the Bluetooth functionality is on for both laptops.
Connect Laptop Displays Bluetooth And Other Devices Search Windows11
  1. Keep Bluetooth enabled and your device discoverable. In Windows 11, select “Add device.” This will open a new pop-up window where you can add the secondary Bluetooth-enabled laptop for pairing.
Connect Laptop Displays Bluetooth Devices Windows11 Add Device

In Windows 10, the corresponding option is “Add Bluetooth or other device.”

Connect Laptop Screens Bluetooth Other Devices Windows10
  1. Once the pop-up screen opens, choose the kind of Bluetooth device you want to add. Since we are trying to connect two random Windows laptops, select the first (Bluetooth) option. If you have two Miracast-compatible laptops, choose the second option: “Wireless display or dock.”
Connect Laptop Displays Windows11 Add A Device Bluetooth
  1. Wait for a few seconds for the primary screen device to connect with the secondary screen device.
Connect Laptop Displays Windows11 Add A Device Bluetooth Connecting
  1. The same “Connecting” option should be simultaneously activated for the secondary device. The primary Bluetooth-compatible laptop will be found. Select it to form a pairing with the primary laptop.
Connect Laptop Displays Bluetooth Devices Connecting On Secondary Device
  1. Both devices will generate a PIN. Check the PIN value on the primary device.
Connect Laptop Displays Windows11 Add A Device Pin Primary Device
  1. Ensure that the PIN matches the one on the secondary laptop. This ensures secure Bluetooth connectivity. Click Connect to proceed.
Connect Laptop Screens Bluetooth Add Pin Secondary Screen
  1. If you’ve set up notification alerts, you should receive an “add a device” message in the system tray of the secondary laptop. Click on it to set up the device.

You should then be able to see a message that says “your device is ready to go” in the primary as well as secondary laptop.

Connect Laptop Displays Bluetooth Pairing Successful Your Device Is Ready To Go

Project the Screen From One Laptop to Another

Once the Bluetooth pairing is available, you can see the primary and secondary devices as “paired” on their respective screens.

Connect Laptop Screens Bluetooth Pairing Visible Windows11 Settings

Go to “duplicate or extend to a connected display” from the Start menu on the primary laptop and search for available networks through “connect to a wireless display.” You should be able to locate the secondary laptop’s Bluetooth ID. You can also select this directly from the “Display Settings” menu.

Connect Laptop Screens Connect To A Wireless Display Windows11

You should now see a “Cast” alert on top of the system tray, which allows you to enable the display pairing.

Connect Laptop Screens Cast Screens Available Windows11

The two laptops are now connected to each other. You are ready to begin projecting your screen wirelessly.

Connect Laptop Displays Wireless Connectivity Ready

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I connect my desktop PC as a monitor for my laptop?

Yes. If the desktop PC is on a latest configuration such as Windows 11 or has Windows 10 on newer hardware, you can use its screen as an external monitor for the laptop. But you will need to connect your desktop PC with the laptop’s HDMI port to enable a successful projection.

How many external monitors can a Windows laptop support?

A modern laptop can easily support up to two external monitors for a total of three. It can support even more but it will negatively impact display performance due to an overload on the primary processor.

How to fix the "second monitor not detected" problem in Windows?

If you’re not able to detect another monitor in Windows, it’s mostly down to two main reasons. First, check whether the Bluetooth pairing is compatible or not. To do this, disconnect the two Bluetooth devices on their respective laptops, then search for them again. If both laptop devices have similar Bluetooth configurations, you should not experience much trouble getting the projection screen above.

To get past incompatible Bluetooth pairing, consider using third-party software like ShareMouse, which works on both Windows and macOS.

If there are no Bluetooth issues, check if either of the laptops is not Miracast-compatible – it’s difficult to connect an older device with a new one.

Image credit: Syda Productions

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