How to Connect a Projector to a Laptop Computer

by C. Taylor

A projector works with a laptop similar to an external monitor, except the display is shown on a larger screen. This is useful for business presentations, school reports, creating your own home theater or creating a massive battleground in the latest computer game. Although some projectors connect to laptops via a USB cable, most of them use standard VGA or DVI ports. Once connected, you can use a quick keyboard shortcut to change the display.

Plug the projector into a wall outlet and turn it on.

Connect the video cable to the projector. If the video cable is hard-wired to the projector, this step is unnecessary.

Plug the video cable into your laptop's video port. Make sure the connections match. If they don't, you'll need an adapter to change from the cable's VGA to your laptop's wider DVI port, or vice versa. If the projector uses a USB cable, plug this cable into an available USB port on your laptop. Windows 7 will automatically recognize the projector.

Press "Win-P" repeatedly until your preferred setting is highlighted. When you release the keys, your laptop shifts into that mode. "Duplicate" mirrors your desktop through the projector. "Extend" uses your laptop screen and the projector as a single, wide desktop. "Projector Only" uses only the projector. To return to only your computer screen, select "Computer Only."


  • Windows 7 Starter does not support multiple monitors, so you will only be able to use the projector or the laptop's screen, not both.

Items you will need

  • Video cable
  • Video VGA or DVI adapters

Photo Credits

  • Todd Warnock/Lifesize/Getty Images