How to enable a third monitor with onboard video

Written by james crider
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How to enable a third monitor with onboard video
Connect three monitors to your computer without adding internal hardware. (monitors image by Orlando Florin Rosu from

Most computers come equipped with a single VGA or DVI port, allowing you to connect a single monitor for video output. Laptop users can use an external monitor in addition to the laptop's screen in a dual-screen set-up. If you need two or more monitors in addition to your computer's built-in video and don't want to bother with the expense or hassle of installing internal graphics cards, you can use a USB video adaptor to connect additional monitors.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Windows XP, Vista or 7 laptop or desktop
  • 2 DVI- or VGA-USB adaptors (one for laptops)

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  1. 1

    Set both additional monitors on your desk or table next to your current monitor. Plug both into the nearest AC power outlet or surge protector. Turn on your computer and log in.

  2. 2

    Insert the driver disk that came with your USB video adaptors. (As long as both are the same make, install the drivers only once.) Follow the set-up instructions that appear on screen. If no instructions appear, click "Start," then "Computer" or "My Computer." Double-click the CD icon and start the "Setup.exe" program.

  3. 3

    Follow the set-up process, clicking "Next" or "OK" as needed. If the software doesn't automatically restart your computer, do so now. Log in to your computer.

  4. 4

    Plug both USB video adaptors into a USB port on your computer. Connect a DVI or VGA cable to both adaptors and both additional monitors.

  5. 5

    Right-click on the computer desktop. Select "Properties," then click the "Settings" tab. (For Vista users, select "Personalization," then "Display settings." For Windows 7 users, click "Screen Resolution" from the right-click menu.) Click "Detect" or "Detect displays" until the additional monitors become visible.

  6. 6

    Change the settings of each display by clicking it with your mouse. Click the box next to "Extend my Windows desktop onto this display" to enable it. Set each monitor at its maximum resolution. Click and drag the displays to arrange them to correspond with their physical positions.

  7. 7

    Click "OK" and wait for the monitors to activate. If the displays have resolution, position or activation issues, repeat Steps 5 and 6 to adjust the monitor set-up.

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