How to Hook Up My Dell Laptop to a Video Projector

Written by regina edwards
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Video projectors are available in compact models that equip business travellers with a presentation system in the same bag as their laptop. Most LCD projectors are designed to connect to the monitor port (VCA) on a computer to serve as an external display. Laptops automatically detect the preferred settings for external displays based on the resolution specifications transmitted by the projector or monitor. Dell laptops have a different function sequence to select the display setting, using the "Function" key plus the "F8" key (other laptops use "Function" plus "F5" or "F10" keys).

Skill level:

Things you need

  • VGA cable

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  1. 1

    Insert the VGA cable into the LCD projector's video "in" port (usually there is only one port) and turn the two screws with your fingers so it's hand-tight.

  2. 2

    Insert the VGA plug into the laptop's "Monitor" port (the port is located on the back or on one side of the machine, and there's only one port). Tighten the two screws to the port so that it's hand-tight.

  3. 3

    Connect and plug in the power cord to an AC outlet and press the "Power" button on the LCD projector.

  4. 4

    Remove the cap covering the projector lens.

  5. 5

    Turn on the laptop and observe both machines cycling through the input/output detection processes.

  6. 6

    Check that the LCD projector displays a setting for "Computer" on the screen and shows the computer's desktop.

  7. 7

    Press and hold the "Fn" key and press the "F8" key to toggle through display settings: Mirror (which shows displays on both the laptop screen and projector), Computer only (which displays on the computer screen only and the projected image is blank) or Screen only (which projects the image from the computer while the computer screen is blank). Release both keys when you reach the desired setting.

  8. 8

    Launch your desired application and open your selected file (e.g., video, presentation or document).

Tips and warnings

  • After checking that the projector displays the computer screen, set the display setting to "Computer only" (step 6) to queue up your presentation so that your computer desktop (and pre-meeting activities) aren't visible to a waiting audience. Repeat step 6 to select "Mirror" before starting your presentation.
  • Some Dell laptops (such as the older Latitude models) don't have an updated video card to project movies or video files through a projector. Check that your Dell laptop has an updated video card and/or driver to properly display video through an external LCD projector by reading the user's manual for specifications, contacting Dell support or rehearsing with the projector set up.

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