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How To Connect A Laptop To A Monitor Using HDMI

Although every laptop comes with its own screen, you can conveniently connect to an extra monitor using an HDMI cable. This allows you to have additional windows open and easily view multiple things at the same time. But how exactly do you use an HDMI to connect the monitor to your laptop?

To connect a supplemental monitor to a MacBook, plug in the HDMI cable and then head to System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement to arrange the screens how you like. On Windows, head to Start > Settings > System > Display for similar options.

Let’s take a closer look at how to connect the different laptop types to monitors using HDMI cables, as well as alternative connections and how to troubleshoot any issues you may come across.

How to Connect a MacBook to a Monitor Through HDMI

Macbook and Monitor

Before you go ahead and connect your monitor to your MacBook, you’ll need to ensure that the monitor you have on hand (or that you’re purchasing) is compatible. Only certain monitors are compatible with MacBooks — like this screen extender (on Amazon) — whereas others can’t be connected to the Apple laptops.

Once you’ve established that your devices are compatible, you can follow these steps:

  1. Connect the monitor to the Apple MacBook using the HDMI cable. In some cases, you may need an adapter, like this one (on Amazon).
  2. Go to ‘System Preferences.’
  3. Go to ‘Displays.’
  4. Go to ‘Arrangement.’
  5. Make sure the ‘Mirror Displays’ box is unchecked unless you wish to have the same screen on both the laptop and additional monitors.
  6. Drag the displays around until you get the arrangement you want.
  7. Drag the white bar to the screen you want to be the main one.

How to Connect a PC to a Monitor

Connecting a PC to a monitor with an HDMI cable is typically even easier than on a Mac. If you plug one end of the HDMI into the PC and the other into the monitor, the monitor should automatically detect the PC and display the screen.

If the connection is coming from the laptop, or you’re using a second monitor, you can follow these steps once it’s plugged in to configure your display:

  1. Select ‘Start.’
  2. Select ‘Settings.’
  3. Select ‘System.’
  4. Select ‘Display.’

What Are Some Alternatives to HDMI?

If you don’t have an HDMI cable (which you can find on Amazon), there are some alternatives you can use, though you’ll need to make sure both your monitor and laptop accept it.


You can connect a monitor to a MacBook specifically using USB-C connections, where available. However, not all monitors have this connection type, so you may need to buy an adapter, like this USB-C to HDMI one (on Amazon).


DisplayPort is very similar to HDMI and works in the same way. If your monitor and computer allow for this connection, DisplayPort is often found on PCs and you can connect things up and then follow the same steps to display your two screens. 

Can You Connect a Laptop to Multiple Screens? 

Young businessman in formal clothes is in office with multiple screens

Almost any laptop will allow you to connect to as many screens as you like, as long as you have the cables necessary to do so. You can do this by hooking everything up and then following the above steps to access the settings, playing with the display to get it set up how you like.

As usual, you’ll need to check the monitors are compatible with your laptop.


If you’re running into issues when connecting your laptop to multiple screens, these are some possible reasons why:

Monitor Isn’t Compatible

The first potential problem is that the monitor isn’t compatible. For example, you may be trying to use an Apple monitor (specifically designed for Apple laptops) with a Windows PC, or vice versa. It’s important to check out the product specifications and research online to check everything is compatible before considering other issues.

The Displays Aren’t Configured Correctly

There’s always a chance the displays simply aren’t configured correctly in your settings. On a MacBook, head to ‘Arrangements’ as per the instructions above, or ‘Displays’ on a Windows PC.

You should be able to see the settings reflect your setup, and they’ll also indicate if they don’t detect that another monitor is connected.

The Connections Aren’t Right

The issue could be that the connections aren’t right — though in this situation, you would probably notice that the cable isn’t slotting into the port very well.

There could also be an issue with the port itself, such as if dirt or debris has gotten in there. In this case, you can take a Q-tip and gently swab the port. Never put liquid in there.

There’s an Issue With the Cable

There could be a fault with the cable itself. You can test this by plugging the cable into another device to see if it works there. 

Look around your house for something that uses an HDMI cable. A lot of things that connect to TVs, like game consoles, will require HDMI cables, so you can replace them with the one you’re using for your monitor and check if it works there.

If the cable doesn’t work, then the HDMI cable needs to be replaced. Go for a high-quality cable like this one (on Amazon). If it does work in the alternative device, then it’s not an issue with the HDMI cable itself.

There’s an Issue With the Monitor

It could also be that it’s not an issue with the cable, but instead with the monitor. The only real way to check this is to plug it into another computer and see if it works properly.

If the monitor works on the other computer, then it’s not an issue with the monitor. If it doesn’t, try using another cable to eliminate all variables, and if it still doesn’t work, then there’s a fault with the monitor.

If this is the case, you can check the warranty, get it repaired with or without coverage, or, if it’s an older monitor, you may need to replace it entirely.