How to Set Up an IBM Thinkpad Docking Station

Although IBM sold its PC computer division to Lenovo in December 2004, millions of users still use notebooks branded with the IBM ThinkPad or ThinkVantage logos. Although the laptops are not particularly innovative or fast when compared to newer notebook models, they are still more than sufficient as Web browsing machines or word processing computers. Using a docking station with an older IBM ThinkPad allows you to convert the laptop for use on your desk and add peripherals such as an external monitor, mouse and keyboard. Whether you use an older locking-and-dock docking station or a USB port replicator, connecting and configuring the dock only takes a few minutes.

Turn off the laptop. Connect the AC adaptor to the ThinkPad docking station, then plug the other end into an available electrical socket. Remove the docking port cover on the bottom of the laptop. Align the port on the bottom of the laptop with the corresponding slot on the docking station. Lower the laptop into place on the docking station, and push down until the laptop until the slot and port connection is secure. Turn the lock side or rear of the docking station to lock the devices together.

Connect the external monitor, keyboard and mouse to the corresponding slots on the docking station. If connecting a newer monitor with a DVI cable interface to the older docking station, you must use a VGA-to-DVD adaptor connector. Older IBM ThinkPad docking stations usually have ports for PS/2 and USB keyboards or mice. Connect your printer to the parallel port or a free USB port if needed.

Power on your IBM ThinkPad laptop. If prompted, enter your hard drive access password. Log in to Windows as you normally would. Note: The keyboard and mouse should work even before you log in to Windows. If they do not, wait a few seconds for Windows to detect the devices and then use as them as you normally would. In most cases, the computer screen should display on the external monitor as well. Nevertheless, don't worry if it does not display on the monitor before logging in to Windows -- you can fix that later.

Right-click on the Windows desktop, then click "Screen Resolution" on the popup menu. Click the monitor icon with the "2" label. Click the drop-down list next to the "Multiple Displays" label, then click "Show desktop only on 2" if you only want to use the external monitor. To use the external monitor and the laptop screen, select the "Extend these displays" option. Click the "Apply" button, then "OK."

Install the driver application for the printer if you connected one. Use the laptop as you would a standard desktop computer.

Power off the laptop. Connect the USB cable from the port replicator to a free USB port on the ThinkPad laptop.

Power on the ThinkPad laptop. Insert the driver CD for the port replicator when prompted, then follow the on-screen instructions to install the device drivers for the device. Restart the laptop if prompted to do so.

Connect the external monitor, USB keyboard and USB mice to the corresponding ports on the port replicator. Wait for Windows to detect and configure the devices. Connect the printer and install its device drivers if needed.

Configure the external monitor display by using the Screen Resolution settings option. To do this, right-click the desktop, then select "Screen Resolution" on the popup menu.

Things You'll Need

  • USB cable (for port replicator)
  • Video cable
  • Video cable adaptor (if port on monitor is different from that on the dock)
  • External monitor, keyboard and mouse
  • Printer and printer cable (optional)
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About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.