How to Connect Laptop to Projector

Table of Contents


A feature that has been greatly improved in Windows is the ability to instantly connect a projector using various options that suit your needs. With a simple keyboard shortcut, you can quickly duplicate, extend, or just display your screen on the projector. In this article, we’ll show you how to connect a laptop to a projector with HDMI, VGA, USB and Wirelessly and also choose the best display options going forward.

Before you proceed, make sure that Windows recognizes that the projector is connected to your laptop. It’s a good idea to quickly go through the documentation that came with the projector to find out how to connect and configure the device to your computer. Some projectors connect to your graphics card while others connect using a USB port.

Pay special attention to the order in which you should set up the projector. Setting up most projectors on a laptop is like setting up a printer. First, connect the projector to your laptop. Then install or download the correct drivers from the disc that came with the projector. Finally, restart your machine and see if the projector is recognized by Windows.

To verify that your projector is recognized correctly:

  • Click the Start button
  • Just type in “Device Manager” and it’ll show up as part of the Control Panel
  • Click Device Manager
  • Check the middle column to make sure your projector is plugged in and ready for Windows to use. Depending on the make and model of your projector, it may appear in one of two places in Device Manager First, look under Display adapters . If it’s not there, check its own entry in the middle column.

Different Ways of Connecting a Projector to Your Laptop

How to Connect Laptop to Projector (Shortcut Key)

Microsoft really paid attention to convenience when it added such a simple way of displaying content on a projector. Once your laptop is connected to a projector, simply press Windows Key + P to choose one of four connection options. If you’re running Windows 8 or Windows 10, the options appear on the page rather than as shown in the screenshot above.

Laptop Screen Only – This option displays the content only on the laptop screen. This is a great option to choose if your presentation hasn’t started or if you have some other reason to use your laptop and don’t want everyone to see what’s on the screen through the projector.

Laptop Screen and Projector – This option simultaneously displays everything on your laptop screen and the projector. This is a good choice if you have your back to the projected screen during a presentation. That way, you can look at your laptop screen while the audience is watching the projector, rather than having your back to the audience during the presentation.

Split Screen – This option splits the image between the laptop and the projector. That way you see one thing on your laptop screen and something else on the projector screen. This is great if you are using PowerPoint to have the presentation appear on the projector while your notes are in front of you on your laptop screen.

Projector Only – As the name suggests, this option will display your presentation only on the projector, with a blank screen on your laptop. While not a popular choice, it is a good option if you are running your presentation from your laptop on battery power. Turning off the laptop screen can help conserve battery life!

Connecting a projector to a Windows computer is pretty easy once you know how. The four options above allow you to set up a custom display that suits your personal presentation needs.

How to Connect Laptop to Projector with HDMI cable, VGA and USB

Connecting a laptop to a projector is a very simple task. However, if the user has never done this before, certain configuration details can create complications. The most common way to connect a projector to a laptop is through the HDMI or VGA cable. It is best to choose an HDMI connection. If you are only buying equipment, you need to look for equipment that supports HDMI since it allows you to transmit a clearer picture.

If the laptop lacks an HDMI or VGA port, you will need to connect using an adapter. Installing this adapter may affect the picture quality slightly, but the issue is pretty negligent when used at home. However, this is seldom the issue, often both devices have an HDMI connection and you can use your normal HDMI cable with which you can also connect the laptop to a larger screen.

  • First, find the HDMI cable. If another connection is available, you must work with adapters. These are available on the Internet, depending on which one you need.
  • Next, plug the cable into both the screen connection on the laptop and the matching socket on your projector.
  • And that’s it. If you want to connect speakers, you should of course see what connections are available for them.
  • If the projector only has a VGA connection, the connection is also easy, albeit a little more laborious.
  • Since most laptops these days only have an HDMI port, you will need an HDMI to VGA adapter .
  • You then connect the HDMI plug of this cable to your laptop while you plug the VGA connection into the projector.
  • If you do not have an HDMI connection on your laptop, you can also connect to the projector via the USB slot. The prerequisite for this is that the projector has a suitable connection. For example, if the projector has a mini-USB port, you will then have to get an adapter.

How to Connect Laptop to Projector Wirelessly

To connect your laptop to your projecter via a wireless connection, you will need to hook up a wireless transmitting device such as the USB dongle to the projector (this should come with the projector) and establish a connection with your laptop.

  • Select your projector from the drop-down list and wait for the connection wizard to install all of the necessary components. Follow the command prompts until you are finished.
  • You then have to simply power on both devices and wait for a connection to get established. The receiver and the USB dongle will instantly recognize each other and you’ll start getting prompts on your computer.
  • Just follow the instructions one by one, if you’re using Windows 10, chances are that your OS will instantly recognize the hardware and find the appropriate driver. If this does not work for you, just go ahead and press Start and type in ‘projector sharing’, from there you just have to connect to a Network Projector and again follow the prompts to establish the connection.

How to Connect Laptop to Projector via Bluetooth

Along with wired and wireless connections, you also have the option to connect your laptop to your projector via Bluetooth. Follow these steps to get the connection going:

  • Power on your projector and wait a little bit till it is good to go.
  • Go into your projector’s settings, you’ll see an option for Source, make sure to choose Bluetooth. Some projectors also come with a Bluetooth USB dongle. If your device has one, make sure to plug it in before you proceed.
  • You now have to start the pairing process. This is pretty simple on a Windows laptop. Go ahead and right click on your desktop screen and choose the option to add the Bluetooth device. You’ll see a list, just go ahead and choose the projector (it is going to display there). If you’re having issues, go ahead and look at the instruction manual for your projector. However, the concept is pretty straightforward and exactly the same for all projectors.

Other Considerations

Common Issues When Connecting a Laptop to a Projector

If the projector is connected to your laptop but your system is unable to detect it, then you know that the device is not configured properly. In this case you need to make sure that everything is hooked up correctly. If the laptop does not display the projector, you should first restart your computer since that sometimes solves the issue.

Sometimes it happens that the laptop suddenly stops detecting external devices even though it didn’t have any problems before. In this case and a problem with the drivers has most likely occurred. You need to go to Task Manager and find the appropriate driver here. An exclamation mark next to the unidentified device denotes problems with external devices.

If the operating system itself has not been reinstalled for a long time, you need to check the system for viruses. Most likely, the drivers were affected due to the infection. Once you have removed all viruses, you can reinstall drivers from the manufacturer’s website.

The downloaded drivers are usually installed automatically; this can also be done via the Task Manager. Right-click the device and then use the “Update Driver” method to provide the location of the driver.

Problems with the connection arise due to the inattentiveness of the user. Modern devices have simple controls, so you only need to familiarize yourself with the instructions and there will be no problems.

Order in Which Laptop and Projector are Setup

First of all, you should observe the following sequence when setting up the projector and laptop: First plug in the cables, then switch on the projector and then only power on the laptop. The projector and laptop usually connect themselves to one another and you save yourself having to make these settings manually. When connecting the projector and laptop, the sequence is important: first plug in the cables, then switch on the projector and only finally boot up the laptop

Make Sure Everything is Hooked Up Properly

In order to connect the projector and laptop with each other, you usually only need two cables : a power cable and a “connection cable”. The former only supplies the projector with power and is therefore plugged directly into the socket, similar to the power cord of your laptop.

Use the connection cable to connect your laptop to the projector. Depending on your setup, there will be different connection options.

If you do not bring your own projector to an event but are provided with a device, it is advisable to find out in advance about the various connection options for that specific projector. You can then check whether your laptop is compatible with the projector or if you will have to bring an additional cable or adapter.

Make Sure the Source is Properly Selected on the Projector

As long as you have plugged in all the cables properly, it does not matter which connections you use to connect your laptop to the projector. It is only important that you select the assigned source correctly! You can make this setting with the “Source” or “Input” buttons on the projector. Please note that the projector needs some time to receive the signal from the laptop. So be patient and give it some time.

Laptop Settings

If, after you have plugged in all the cables and selected the source correctly, the projector still has no connection to the laptop and does not project an image on the wall, the issue could be with your laptop screen setting. Using the key combination “function” for short FN and the key with the screen symbol, you can open the corresponding menu on your laptop and select the screen setting “double”. The picture will then be displayed on your laptop as well as on the screen.

Most of the time you have to search a bit until you have discovered the key with the screen symbol, as this is individually designed and arranged on each laptop. Windows 7 and 8 have a uniform solution for this. This is called: “Windows” key + “P” key like projector!

Good luck with connecting the projector and laptop!