How to Set Up the Second Monitor on a Laptop in Windows XP

Written by anne hirsh
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How to Set Up the Second Monitor on a Laptop in Windows XP
This is a VGA monitor connector. (vga image by MATTHIEU FABISIAK from

Adding an external monitor to your laptop allows you to either double your current laptop display or mirror the regular display in a larger format than your built-in laptop screen. Windows XP has a program that lets you view two programs in separate monitors, but you might not be able to get two separate displays within the same program, known as extended display. Contact the company that made the software you are using, such as Photoshop or Microsoft Office, to see if you need additional software to run an extended display.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Laptop with DVI or VGA port
  • Monitor with DVI or VGA cable

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  1. 1

    Shut down your laptop completely and connect the monitor to the appropriate port. Either VGA or DVI ports will support video, so check your laptop's user's guide to locate the port on your laptop and find a compatible monitor.

  2. 2

    Turn on the laptop. Wait while the system detects and verifies the new hardware. Follow any onscreen prompts to set up the hardware so it communicates properly with your computer.

  3. 3

    Click "Start," then "Control panel." This is under "Settings" if your laptop is set to use XP in "Classic view."

  4. 4

    Select "Display" and then choose the "Settings" tab.

  5. 5

    Click the arrow next to the "Display" field to see the list of available monitors. Select your external monitor from the list.

  6. 6

    Click to place a check mark in the box next to "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor."

  7. 7

    Click "OK" to apply the new setting.

Tips and warnings

  • If you simply want to mirror the same display on both monitors, locate the display toggle function key. This is one of the F1 through F12 keys, and will be identified by an icon that either looks like a large screen (slightly bowed open rectangle) or a laptop icon and a large screen icon, usually separated by a slash. Press the "Fn" key and the key with this icon simultaneously to toggle the display between screens. On many computers, the key is F5, but it varies by brand.

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