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Step-by-step Guide: How to Use a Second Laptop as a Monitor

Step-by-step Guide: How to Use a Second Laptop as a Monitor

The dynamic landscape of technology has presented users with new possibilities, such as how to use a second laptop as a monitor for increased productivity or a comfortable gaming experience. This article takes you through the essentials of employing this practical technique, starting with the crucial equipment needed to establish a connection via cables. Then, walk you through the step-by-step process to set up the configuration seamlessly and elevate your productivity. We'll also discuss common issues and troubleshooting tips during the connection procedure, empowering you to overcome any challenges along the way – all crafted to help you maximize your screen real estate and workflow efficiency.


What You Need to Prepare to Use Another Laptop as a Monitor via Cables

Consider leveraging your spare laptop as a second screen to boost your productivity; here's a list of things you need to prepare to use another laptop as a monitor via cables:

Video Capture Device

A video capture device is essential to use another laptop as a monitor. This device bridges the primary laptop and the second one, allowing you to transmit video signals from the source laptop to the display. Various video capture devices are available on the market - opt for one with HDMI capabilities to ensure compatibility with most laptops. Ensure that you choose a low-latency capture device to avoid any visual lag while using the second laptop as a monitor. It is also wise to select a device with the proper resolution support you need.

HDMI Cables

You will surely need an HDMI cable to connect your primary laptop to the video capture device. HDMI cables come in different lengths/types, so be sure to choose the one that suits your requirements best. High-speed HDMI cables are recommended to achieve optimal video quality and minimize latency issues. Ensure that your primary laptop has an HDMI output port, allowing you (the user) to connect it to the video capture device. For the second laptop, an HDMI input port is needed, so it can receive video signals from the capture device.

HDMI Adapters if Needed

In some cases, your laptops may not have the necessary HDMI ports for direct cable connection. In this situation, HDMI adapters become critical for connecting the primary laptop and the video capture device. There are various types of adapters available, such as DisplayPort to HDMI and USB to HDMI converters. You must identify the available ports on both laptops and choose the appropriate adapters according to the port types and connectivity options. These adapters will help you establish a seamless connection, allowing you to use the second laptop as a monitor effectively.

If you are currently searching for HDMI adapters, we have a wide selection available for you, just like this amazing Anker 518 USB-C Adapter (8K HDMI). Experience crystal-clear visuals with resolutions up to 8K@60Hz or 4K@144Hz using this high-definition adapter. Effortlessly transform your laptop's USB-C into an HDMI port with plug-and-play functionality. Enjoy HDCP-compliant encrypted content and universal compatibility with DisplayPort Alt Mode supported USB-C devices, alongside a seamless connection to diverse TVs, monitors, and projectors.

Steps to Use Another Laptop as a Monitor

Easily extend your digital workspace by following these simple steps to use another laptop as a monitor:

Check Compatibility and Requirements

Before diving into the detailed process of how to use another laptop as a monitor, it's crucial first to verify that your laptop is capable of driving a secondary display. Ensure it has the necessary connection ports (HDMI, VGA or DisplayPort) and that the secondary laptop supports video input - this is less common but can be achieved with specific software. Also, check the operating system requirements. Some methods will only work on certain versions of Windows or MacOS systems.

Connect Cables or Adapters to the Video Capture Device

If you're using a hardware solution like a video capture card, the next step includes connecting the necessary cables between the laptops and the capture device. This may require using adapters to match the available ports on your laptops and capture device. For instance, you may need an HDMI to USB adapter if your capture device has a USB interface and your laptop only has an HDMI output. Make sure that all connections are secure.

Connect the Video Capture Device to the Laptop

The video capture device should now be connected to the primary laptop, the one you want to display on the secondary laptop. Make sure that the device is connected correctly. Most devices will have a light or notification showing that they're properly connected and receiving a signal. You should then install any necessary drivers for the capture device, these can typically be found on the manufacturer's website. Once the drivers are installed, the device should be ready to use.

Optimize the Monitor Performance

Finally, you can optimize your settings for the best visual experience. Adjust the resolution and display settings to match your secondary laptop's screen in your system settings or graphics control panel. This typically includes display size, orientation, and refresh rate. If you're using software, optimize settings such as encoding quality based on the performance of your laptop and network speed. Lastly, always make sure your secondary laptop is plugged into a power source to avoid any unexpected interruptions.

Common Issues during the Connection Procedure

During the connection procedure, whether it's connecting devices, networks, or services, several common issues can arise. Here are some of the most frequent problems and their potential solutions:

Incompatible Hardware: One of the laptops may lack the necessary ports or capabilities to function as an external monitor. Ensure that your laptops have compatible hardware before attempting to connect them.

Incorrect Cable or Adapter: Using the wrong type of cable or adapter can hinder or prevent the connection between the two laptops. Double-check that you're using the correct cables or adapters for the specific video input/output ports on both laptops.

Software Issues: In some cases, you may experience issues related to the software controlling the display on one or both laptops. Ensure that your video capture device's software is up-to-date and compatible with the operating systems and hardware on both laptops.

Poor Display Quality: If the video feed from the primary laptop is blurry, distorted, or lagging on the secondary laptop, adjust the video resolution and performance settings on both laptops and the video capture device to achieve the desired display quality.

Connection Problems: If you're having trouble connecting the laptops, check that all cables and adapters are securely connected, and that the correct inputs and outputs are being used. If necessary, try using a different video capture device or cables.


In conclusion, mastering how to use a second laptop as a monitor unlocks a world of possibilities, transforming your workspace into a productivity powerhouse. With the right preparation and a clear understanding of the steps, cables, and solutions to common issues, you'll soon wonder how you ever got by without the convenience and versatility of a dual-screen setup. Don't let your spare laptop gather dust—utilize its capabilities to create the ultimate multitasking environment for a game-changing experience.


Here are some commonly asked queries on how to use a second laptop as a monitor.

Can USB-C support dual monitors?

Yes, USB-C can support dual monitors. This is possible because the USB-C specification supports a feature called "Alternate Mode (Alt Mode)" that allows high-performance non-USB data such as DisplayPort and Thunderbolt to be transmitted. However, compatibility will depend on whether the laptop and the monitors support DisplayPort Alt Mode over USB-C.

Can I extend the display to a third laptop using the same cable setup?

Extending the display to a third laptop with the same cable setup is more complex and isn't typically possible with just a standard USB-C cable. It would require more advanced hardware such as a docking station, or software solutions like remote desktop applications to share displays across three laptops.

What precautions should I take when disconnecting the cable from the laptops?

When disconnecting the cable from the laptops, ensure all data transfers have been completed to prevent data loss or corruption. Also, properly eject any hardware you're disconnecting in your laptop's operating system before physically disconnecting to avoid potential damage to your device. When disconnecting the USB-C cable, pull on the plug instead of the cord to prevent cable damage.


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