How to Connect a Laptop to a Monitor & Keyboard

Updated February 21, 2017

Laptops offer many customisation options for utility and comfort. You may enjoy the portable features of a laptop yet want the more comfortable screen and keyboard size associated with desktops. This can be achieved with most laptops; all you need are the appropriate ports. Modern laptops can connect with most standard computer monitors, but older keyboards may not be compatible. Choose a keyboard with a USB connection to ensure it will work with your laptop. Even with adaptors, some older keyboards simply do not communicate correctly with today's laptop software.

Turn off your laptop and close the lid. Examine the sides and back of your laptop to locate the VGA port. This port has a small trapezoidal opening with several rows of tiny holes, plus one hole on either side.

Connect the VGA cable from your monitor to the VGA port on the laptop and tighten the screws on either side of the connector to hold the monitor in place.

Open and turn on the laptop.

Locate the display toggle key, which will be one of the keys labelled "F1" through "F12" near the top of your keyboard. The key you are looking for will have an open rectangle on it, or may have an icon of a laptop and the open rectangle, which represents a monitor. It is generally "F5," "F7" or "F8," but varies by manufacturer.

Press the "Fn" key and the "F5" or other designated key on your keyboard simultaneously. This should send the display to your external monitor. On some models, pressing the same key combination again will allow you to display the same screen on both your built-in and external monitor.

Insert the installation CD that came with your USB keyboard into your laptop's CD drive if it came with one. Follow the instructions on your screen to install the keyboard driver software. If the CD does not run automatically, click "Start," then choose "Computer" and double-click the CD drive. Double-click the file labelled "Setup.exe" or "Driver.exe" to launch the installation.

Plug the keyboard into a USB port when the onscreen instructions tell you to do so, and complete the installation by following the prompts. If your keyboard came without a driver, simply plug it into a USB port and allow Windows to detect the new hardware. Follow any onscreen prompts to set up the new hardware, and then start using the new keyboard when the system tells you it's ready.


Once the keyboard is plugged in, your computer may automatically switch control to the external keyboard and not take input from the built-in keyboard. This should reverse once the external keyboard is disconnected.

Things You'll Need

  • VGA monitor
  • USB keyboard
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About the Author

Anne Hirsh has been writing and editing for over 10 years. She has hands-on experience in cooking, visual arts and theater as well as writing experience covering wellness and animal-related topics. She also has extensive research experience in marketing, small business, Web development and SEO. Hirsh has a bachelor's degree in technical theater and English and post-baccalaureate training in writing and computer software.