How to Use a Laptop as a Monitor? [Beginner-Friendly Guide]

Velina Nenova
Velina Nenova

Updated · Oct 16, 2022

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Sometimes, your current laptop screen isn't enough for gaming, trading, or work. Fortunately, there are ways to expand your output peripherals and add a desktop monitor to work on. But learning how to use a laptop as a monitor might be challenging. Our guide addresses how to use the built-in software in your laptop and enjoy multiple displays while you work or play games.

Requirements

When adding a second screen for a laptop, you need the following:

  • Your current laptop (or computer) 
  • WiFi connection
  • Another laptop (or computer) with a portable monitor as a second screen
  • An updated version of Windows 10 on both devices
  • Possibly, third-party software
  • Perhaps a wireless HDMI Transmitter and Receiver

Today’s technology eliminates the need for a cable, so you don’t need to be entangled with a DisplayPort or other physical connections. Plus, if you use macOS, you should look for additional instructions on using your Apple device as a primary or external monitor.

How to Use a Laptop as a Monitor 

When using a laptop as a monitor, you can add it to a PC monitor or expand your current laptop’s screen with another one. The methods are the same regardless of which devices you want to connect, as seen below.

Miracast on Windows

Using Miracast in Windows is the easiest way to set up dual monitors, even for the not-so-tech-savvy. The Miracast wireless display is built-in to the latest Windows OS. It enables you to connect your PC to another PC, a TV, projector, laptop, or secondary display that supports Miracast. Note the steps below to use this feature.

  1. Turn on your screens and devices;
  2. Connect your devices to the WiFi network;
  3. Find the ‘Project this Screen’ feature in the search bar;
  4. View the settings for ‘Projecting to this PC’;

You can use this feature to connect two laptop screens or add another PC screen to your existing monitor.

connecting two laptop screens from settings

5. Locate the ‘Find a setting’ box on the upper-left-hand side;

6. Type in ‘Project to a second screen’;

7. View the settings to connect the laptop to the desktop or vice versa.

adding another PC screen from settings

You don’t need a physical connector to use your laptop as a second monitor with this feature. Simply follow the instructions on the monitors, and you’ll be set.

Miracast allows you to:

  • Use the laptop as the primary monitor
  • Share screens
  • Extend screens
  • Cast the current screen to another one 

Using this option, however, may require you to log in as an administrator on both devices. Additionally, Miracast features only work with Windows 10 or higher. So if you wish to connect the laptop as a second monitor, but it doesn’t have Windows 10 installed, you’ll need to use another method. And if you own an Apple laptop, you’ll also need to look for other solutions.

Third-Party Software

Much third-party software can help you connect your laptop computer monitor to another monitor, including, for example, SpaceDesk or ShareMouse

SpaceDesk works well with Windows 8.1, 10, and 11 (32- and 64-bit versions). Supporting OSs also include:

  • Windows 7, 8.1, and 10
  • Android (version 4.1 and above)
  • iOS (version 9.3 and above)
  • HTML5 web browsers

Once you download this application, you get the following features:

  • Desktop extension
  • Desktop duplication
  • Touchscreen sharing
  •  Remote keyboard and mouse            

Download the SpaceDesk Driver Console and open it to begin using a laptop as a monitor

SpaceDesk Driver Console interface

Download the SpaceDesk Viewer Software for the secondary machine to help you connect your laptop monitor screen to another screen.

SpaceDesk Viewer Software downloaded and open

Set up your primary machine and open the Viewer. Wait for the secondary device to automatically locate the primary one via WiFi. You can then easily use the other laptop as a screen.

how viewer looks when open

Follow further instructions to share screens between two devices and turn a laptop into a monitor.

While this application is as easy to use as Miracast, it does have certain limitations when setting up an additional laptop screen. For example, it won’t work unless you update your NVIDIA graphics driver to version 461.09 or another new release. Plus, if it’s your first time working with these tools, the interface might be confusing.

Additionally, this software doesn’t work between macOS and Windows devices. So you might want to consider the other third-party software: ShareMouse.

ShareMouse is another easy way to use a laptop as a second monitor, allowing you to control multiple computers from a single mouse or keyboard. Plus, it has the following additional features you can use on Mac devices.

  • Drag and drop files between Mac and Windows
  • Clipboard Sharing
  • Ultra privacy and security

Once you download ShareMouse, it appears as such:

how ShareMouse appears

Click Settings to get more features and successfully use your laptop as an external monitor.

Clicking on Settings Menu to get more features

You’ll need to install this program on both devices connected to a local network. Both devices must have their own monitors to use your laptop as a PC monitor.

Be aware, however, that this software works only on Windows 10 and 11 and Mac 10.13 or higher.

Remote Connection

Remote connection is another way to use your laptop screen as an additional monitor via third-party software. But this connection only allows you to control the other monitor via your main device, which is not a standard monitor sharing method.

One of the best software solutions for remote control is TeamViewer, which works on any device regardless of the local WiFi network or distance between devices.

Even though TeamViewer doesn’t allow you to connect your desktop to the laptop screen, it’s still an excellent solution for controlling what happens on another monitor. This program is good enough to access your primary laptop as a desktop monitor with your mobile laptop.

Download the software on both devices and install it. (The default installation is the best for basic use.)

Pair and connect the devices by sharing your ID and password, and you’re good to go. 

teamviewer program shown

TeamViewer is free, simple to use, and works on various devices to help you use your laptop as a display via remote control. Its most significant limitation, however, is that it’s not a standard screen-sharing program.

HDMI Transmitter and Receiver

When contemplating software solutions, consider a wireless HDMI transmitter and receiver to help you share screens between your PC and laptop or vice versa.

You can purchase this hardware online and in tech stores, and it doesn’t require software installation. An HDMI transmitter allows long-distance transmission—ideal for multi-scene applications or home theaters.

You can easily use your second laptop as a monitor with an HDMI transmitter. What’s more, these transmitters support 5G connections. The receivers also have HDMI, VGA, and audio ports and support external audio.

If you wish to use this approach to connect your laptop as a second monitor, the installation steps may differ for each transmitter you purchase. Check the accompanying documents and follow the instructions for the best possible experience.

The HDMI kit typically has everything you need, but you may need to purchase an adapter or other components.

Optimizing Performance

Once you start using your laptop screen as a monitor, you may face image quality and video speed difficulties. You can, however, take the following measures to improve your experience and optimize the performance of your laptop’s display when you use it as a monitor.

Lower Display Resolution

Once you connect your two monitors, your primary one will maintain a higher resolution than the secondary one. Additionally, if your monitors aren’t connected to a powerful PC, you’ll need to lower the resolution on both monitors to help the device maintain good performance and avoid lags. 

But keeping your screens at a lower resolution may hurt your eyesight in the long run. You could also download and install a dual monitor drive to retain a good resolution.

Close Unused Software

Once you connect two laptop screens, you might want to split tasks and keep the main one on the primary monitor while all other windows are open on the secondary screen. This might slow down your devices, but closing all unused windows and software helps keep the optimal performance of your RAM and CPU.

Still, if you’re dealing with more complex work, you might need to keep the windows open, possibly slowing down your device. In that case, you’ll need to manage one task at a time.

Upgrade Graphics Card

A graphics card is the piece of hardware responsible for the images and videos you see on your screen. You might think that you need two graphics cards to connect your laptop to a desktop, but you don’t.

Still, you might want to consider purchasing a better graphics card to support dual monitors, which will prevent lags and boost the performance of both monitors.

Wrap Up

If you’re stuck using only one screen for work or everyday tasks, you can always add another one. Laptops and PCs with Windows 10 or higher have built-in features for projecting one screen to another.

But if you own a Mac and want to learn how to use a laptop as a monitor, it’s best to look into third-party software solutions. You can purchase a wireless HDMI transmitter and transfer your main screen to a secondary one in no time. And remember to optimize your primary device with a powerful graphics card to support two monitors—giving you the best possible experience.

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Velina Nenova

Velina Nenova

Velina describes herself as passionate media savvy and a versatile individual with numerous different interests, most a result of her Media & Communications BA. She has also developed a keen interest in Digital Marketing and Advertising. Her never-ending desire to constantly learn new things and enrich herself and her ultimate dream to go around the globe before 45 are her driving forces.

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