How to Use a Laptop As Second Monitor for a Desktop

Written by isobel phillips Google
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How to Use a Laptop As Second Monitor for a Desktop
Specialist software lets you use an old, working laptop as a second monitor. (Laptop image by Marek Kosmal from

Microsoft has included multiple monitor capability in all versions of Windows since XP. Adding a second monitor to a desktop is as simple as plugging it into the second DVI port on your video card or using an adaptor to connect it to the card's VGA port. However, when the second monitor is your laptop, Windows treats the laptop screen as the primary monitor and makes you access it from the laptop, unless you install software that allows you to override Windows' default setting.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Connect your desktop and laptop computers over a local TCP/IP network. Use a single Ethernet crossover cable, a wireless LAN, FireWire or special USB to USB cable. The computers can be running any 32- or 64-bit version of Windows XP, Vista or 7. Your desktop, as the primary PC, needs at least 5 MB of hard disk space available and your laptop needs 1 MB of hard disk space. The computers do not need to run the same version of Windows.

  2. 2

    Download a free trial of MaxiVista onto your desktop computer and open it in Windows Explorer. Double-click on "MaxiVista_Setup_PrimaryPC.exe" from your desktop to install the software onto the primary PC. Reboot your desktop. Copy the file "Maxivista_Setup_SecondaryPC.exe" onto your laptop and double-click on it to install the secondary PC software. Modify your firewall to give MaxiVista access to the network. Right-click the MaxiVista icon in the desktop task bar and select "Activate extended screen."

  3. 3

    Right-click the MaxiVista icon in the primary PC's taskbar and select "Monitor Arrangement." Click and drag the monitor symbols to arrange them according to your physical set-up. Click "Apply" and "OK" to save your changes.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure that video card software such as nView, PowerDesk or PivotPro is not running during the installation of MaxiVista.

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