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Using a Projector to Display Your Laptop or Computer

Question: I am trying to connect my Dell Inspiron 6000 notebook to a Toshiba TDP-PX10 projector. When I turn on the projector, the projected image says there is no signal. I am trying to show a PowerPoint through the projector, but for some reason the computer is not connecting with the projector. Are they not compatible?? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

-submitted by ksharp

Answer:  For the most part, plugging a computer or laptop into a PC compatible projector is pretty straightforward. Typically, the one area where people run in to complications has to do with enabling the laptop to output to two displays simultaneously. Let's first walk through the physical setup, then we'll talk about the software and configuration side of things.

Physical Setup

For ksharp, the Dell Inspiron 6000 offers two different kinds of video outputs. One is an analog output designed to plug into TVs, the other is a VGA output designed for computer monitors and high-res projectors.

Depending on the make and model of the laptop and projector, the types of outputs and inputs will vary. For example, some laptops have DVI and analog, while newer laptops may have HDMI. You'll need a matching connection to plug into your laptop, or some kind of adapter to make the output of the laptop match up to the input on the projector.

For ksharp's situation, the Toshiba TDP-PX10 and the Dell Inspiron 6000 sport VGA connections. That's the best route to go in this case. Once that connection is made, we can boot up the laptop and work on the software and configuration.

Software Setup and Configuration

First thing's first, let's make sure the projector is looking at the right connection. Projectors (like TVs) have a number of different input options. You need to turn on the projector and select the connection the laptop is plugged in to using the input or source button on the remote or projector itself.

Once that's all set up, we need to tell the Dell laptop that you've plugged in an external monitor and want to display your picture on it. Some ntoebooks will automatically start using the projector when you turn it on, but that's not always the case.

As a quick shortcut, on many Dell laptops, you can hold the Fn key and press F8 to cycle through the various monitor modes. Your options are internal, external, or simultaneous. However, sometimes there's no choice but to head to the display settings and configure it manually the first time.

Manually configuring multiple displays will often vary from laptop to laptop, depending on the graphics chip and software installed. In most cases, you can navigate to the Control Panel, then click on Displays, and then on Settings.

On this screen you should see two numbered boxes, labeled 1 and 2. Clicking "Identify" should flash a number on the screen to indicate which monitor is which. Below this is a slider that set's the resolution and color depth of the output. The way this works, click the monitor (1 or 2) then make changes to the resolution and color depth (Don't forget to hit the Apply button after changes are made)

If there's no picture on the projector, most likely the VGA output to that projector is disabled. Click on the number that did not flash on the notebook screen. Right click this number, and select "Enable Display." In the resolution slider (in ksharp's case), slide it to 1024x768, and select 32 or 24 bit color depth. Hit Apply

If all is right in the world, your desktop background should appear on the projector. If you don't see your desktop image, click "Advanced" then the tab for your graphics adapter (Intel in ksharp's case). Find the area for setting up multiple displays, and walk through the similar steps in that area. If still nothing, check the projector and maybe replace the VGA cable.

I see desktop background, but nothing else! Help!

Depending on the options selected in the display settings area, it may be curious why only the desktop background is visible; there are no icons, and all your window applications are on the notebook screen.

Computers can handle multiple displays in a variety of ways (depending on the OS and graphics adapter), but here are the most common three. You'll need to change your settings to use the mode that best fits your needs depending on what the notebook allows. 

Cloning - Also known as mirroring. This display configuration is essentially one desktop space that is displayed on two monitors. What happens on one happens on the other.

Stretch Desktop - This mode creates one large monitor with a resolution doubled in width. You move your mouse and windows across the screen from one to the other. This drawback here is you can't configure each monitor individually. This mode may not be possible using Windows Vista.

Extend Desktop (most common) - Also known as Dual View. This mode creates two desktop spaces, and like stretching, allows you to move the mouse pointer and applications from one screen to the other. The advantage here is that each monitor can run at different resolutions.

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Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 26-50 of 60 | Latest Comment | « Previous 1 2 3 Next »

August 25, 2009 10:12 PM

computer illiterate said:
Matt Whitlock said:
computer illiterate said: I have a Dell Latitude D620 and can't get it into presentation mode for a powerpoint presentation. I've tried your suggestion of going to control, display and settings but no boxes come up - just a picture of a computer monitor. There used to be a little icon in the lower right hand corner of my screen to set the powerpoint presentation mode on but it is no longer there. Any ideas?? Thanks, Kathy
Your laptop can be equipped with two different graphics solutions, but the keyboard shortcut to cycle through video modes should be the same. On your laptop Kathy, it should be as easy as connecting your PC to a projector using a VGA cable, then press Fn+F8 on your keyboard to cycle through the different display modes.
Thank you so much, Matt.  When I press Fn  + F8,  I do get the image to project on the projector screen but then it is no longer on my computer screen.  Is there a way to do this so that I can see the powerpoint on both screens?  Thanks! Kathy

I assume your notebook is loaded with XP, correct?

Without knowing exactly what graphics chip and driver package your laptop uses, I can't give you specific instructions. I can, however, get you going in the right direction.

Right click on the desktop and hit "properties". Hit the settings tab, and you should see a button labeled "advanced." Hit that, and you should see a tab at the top that says either Intel Graphics (or something like that) or Nvidia. Hit that tab, and if you poke around in there you should find the area for setting up multiple displays. There you should be able to set it to have your dual displays mirrored. 

January 9, 2010 1:06 PM

Hello
I am having some problems when i hook up my projector to my hp laptop (running Vista). VGA hook up. I did tried everything that you said in the blog to other people. Now when i plug in the projector my cursor is on the wall and i am not able to see it on the laptop to make my changes. I see my background displayed on the wall and the arrow on the wall also. Any idea?

Thanks
D.J.

January 11, 2010 11:33 AM

teamdj said: Hello I am having some problems when i hook up my projector to my hp laptop (running Vista). VGA hook up. I did tried everything that you said in the blog to other people. Now when i plug in the projector my cursor is on the wall and i am not able to see it on the laptop to make my changes. I see my background displayed on the wall and the arrow on the wall also. Any idea? Thanks D.J.
Move your mouse beyond the edge of the screen where your mouse resides (which direction will depend on how the monitors are configured in extended desktop mode, so try them all). Your mouse will move from the projected screen to your laptop screen. You can also drag windows between the two.

March 4, 2010 10:51 PM updated: March 4, 2010 10:55 PM

Hi, I am using a Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop and trying to connect to my Epson 7250 projector. When I connect, my projector screen is saying there is no signal. I connect this computer to my laptop at work (a different kind) and have no problems when I hit Fn+F8 but at home I have no luck. I have been playing around with settings for hours now and have no clue how to get my laptop to appear on the Epson 7250. Please help me. :)

March 9, 2010 2:21 PM

merckoutboard said: Hi, I am using a Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop and trying to connect to my Epson 7250 projector. When I connect, my projector screen is saying there is no signal. I connect this computer to my laptop at work (a different kind) and have no problems when I hit Fn+F8 but at home I have no luck. I have been playing around with settings for hours now and have no clue how to get my laptop to appear on the Epson 7250. Please help me. :)
I'd make sure your input is properly selected on the projector (or if there are any settings in the menu that may affect which connector it looks at for input, options to disable inputs, etc). I'd also make sure your laptop is set to output a compatible resolution for your projector.

March 12, 2010 11:48 AM

I was tryin to setup a dvd for my teacher earlier and i used the extend desktop... now the projectors the main screen and the laptop monitor is the second... even worse, it went completely blank! someone save me asap!!!!

ANDSIN

March 12, 2010 11:57 AM updated: March 12, 2010 11:57 AM

Bob Regal said: I was tryin to setup a dvd for my teacher earlier and i used the extend desktop... now the projectors the main screen and the laptop monitor is the second... even worse, it went completely blank! someone save me asap!!!!

Most likely you accidentally unchecked "Attached" when switching around primary and secondary displays. Recheck it, hit Apply, and you should be fine.

March 13, 2010 10:04 AM

Matt Whitlock said:

Bob Regal said: I was tryin to setup a dvd for my teacher earlier and i used the extend desktop... now the projectors the main screen and the laptop monitor is the second... even worse, it went completely blank! someone save me asap!!!!
Most likely you accidentally unchecked "Attached" when switching around primary and secondary displays. Recheck it, hit Apply, and you should be fine.


right any other theories?i may need to have a few because i tested the idea on my own laptop and, like hers mine has;
a)no button with 'attached' on it,
and
b)the button for setting mainscreen bizarrely is (and was) greyed out...
if its any help?

ANDSIN

March 15, 2010 10:15 AM

Bob Regal said:
Matt Whitlock said:
Bob Regal said: I was tryin to setup a dvd for my teacher earlier and i used the extend desktop... now the projectors the main screen and the laptop monitor is the second... even worse, it went completely blank! someone save me asap!!!!
Most likely you accidentally unchecked "Attached" when switching around primary and secondary displays. Recheck it, hit Apply, and you should be fine.
right any other theories?i may need to have a few because i tested the idea on my own laptop and, like hers mine has; a)no button with 'attached' on it, and b)the button for setting mainscreen bizarrely is (and was) greyed out... if its any help?
Attached isn't a button. Right click on the 1 or 2 display in the display properties panel (like in the photo above) and make "Attached" is checked in the pop up menu. Quick question though, what OS is this, XP, Vista, or 7?

March 15, 2010 12:03 PM

Matt Whitlock said:

Bob Regal said:
Matt Whitlock said:
Bob Regal said: I was tryin to setup a dvd for my teacher earlier and i used the extend desktop... now the projectors the main screen and the laptop monitor is the second... even worse, it went completely blank! someone save me asap!!!!
Most likely you accidentally unchecked "Attached" when switching around primary and secondary displays. Recheck it, hit Apply, and you should be fine.
right any other theories?i may need to have a few because i tested the idea on my own laptop and, like hers mine has; a)no button with 'attached' on it, and b)the button for setting mainscreen bizarrely is (and was) greyed out... if its any help?
Attached isn't a button. Right click on the 1 or 2 display in the display properties panel (like in the photo above) and make "Attached" is checked in the pop up menu. Quick question though, what OS is this, XP, Vista, or 7?

A slow-as-etc. win xp 32 bit

ANDSIN

March 26, 2010 3:38 PM

I have a question. We run an Epson projector with a Compaq laptop to project the words to the songs with MS 2007 powerpoint at our church. While the projector is running, it will go blank for a second or two and then come back on. We sometimes run an acer computer using MS 2003 powerpoint to run it but it doesn't black out like the Compaq laptop. Any suggestions as to what is making it go blank?

March 26, 2010 4:40 PM

MrsElise said: I have a question. We run an Epson projector with a Compaq laptop to project the words to the songs with MS 2007 powerpoint at our church. While the projector is running, it will go blank for a second or two and then come back on. We sometimes run an acer computer using MS 2003 powerpoint to run it but it doesn't black out like the Compaq laptop. Any suggestions as to what is making it go blank?
When the monitor blacks out, does it come back on by itself or does someone have to do something to get it to come back on (wiggle the mouse, press a key, etc)?

View unverified member's comment - posted by LauraMann

View unverified member's comment - posted by josh lopez1234567

September 26, 2010 4:45 PM

my laptop screen went blank or black actually and i don't know what to do to get it back. i had selected 'projector only' as i wanted to watch a movie onto my tv. i tried Ctrl Alt Del, esc, but nothing. i'm using a Sony v10 and win7

View unverified member's comment - posted by claudia

October 3, 2010 5:10 PM

i have a gateway laptop connected to a Mitsubishi projector. My laptop crashed so now i'm trying to get it to work with the projector again. it worked well before, but i didn't do the setup.

My desktop background shows up on the projector screen, but my icons do not and neither does my presentaton. i went into display/settings/extend my desktop.
still nothing changes. what am i doing wrong?

October 4, 2010 10:03 AM

"My desktop background shows up on the projector screen, but my icons do not and neither does my presentaton. i went into display/settings/extend my desktop.
still nothing changes. what am i doing wrong?"

Nothing is wrong. The "Extend my desktop" option does exactly that, it creates a desktop space larger than your original by spanning your desktop across two screens. If you move your mouse off your main screen (try up, down, left, and right to find the current orientation), you'll see you mouse move over to the second screen. This means you can drag windows over to it, etc. This means you could show off a powerpoint on a projector, while you look at notes on your screen.

Another way to think about it is that if your current monitor has a resolution of 800x600 and you add a second monitor with a resolution of 800x600 in extend mode (and set them side by side), you now have a new desktop total size of 1600x600. Follow?

If you're expecting to see the same thing on both screens, that's called mirroring (not an option on all configurations). You don't have a larger desktop in this case, since you're effectively using two screens for the same content.

October 7, 2010 6:10 AM

Dear Matt,
I have a Toshiba Satellite A80 Laptop, having XP & ATI Graphics. I frequently use it to connect to projectors for presentations. Recently The laptop does not Connect with the VGA Port. It does not give out anything on projector. i Have read your some valuble tips but could you please tell me some that how can i check the laptop to see that all options are on YES / OK for the OUTPUT.

October 7, 2010 9:59 AM

Red Lamb said: Dear Matt, I have a Toshiba Satellite A80 Laptop, having XP & ATI Graphics. I frequently use it to connect to projectors for presentations. Recently The laptop does not Connect with the VGA Port. It does not give out anything on projector. i Have read your some valuble tips but could you please tell me some that how can i check the laptop to see that all options are on YES / OK for the OUTPUT.

The first thing to do would be to look for a function command to toggle the output through it's various modes. On your laptop, it's Fn+F5.

From your manual:

Once you have connected an external display device, you can choose to use the internal display only, the external device only, or both simultaneously. The quickest way to change the display output settings is to use the display hot key (Fn + F5):

1 Press Fn and F5 simultaneously.
2 While holding down Fn, press F5 repeatedly until the setting you want takes effect. Briefly pause between pressing the F5 key to allow time for the display to change.

This hot key cycles through the settings in the following order:

  • Built-in display only
  • Built-in display and external monitor simultaneously
  • External monitor only
  • Built-in display and TV
  • TV only

March 21, 2011 10:05 AM

ok here we go i was trying to fit my screen from the laptop intoi the lg tv n i remeber playing wit the resolution on it n the type of screen i mwanted n now all i have is a pic of my background in the middle of my tv n cant do ne thing if i hit ctrl alt delete the goes byby n it turns black n my laptop can only be seen on there bc the screen is cracked majorly

March 21, 2011 10:25 AM updated: March 21, 2011 10:59 AM

ok i have an hp 15 in screen which is cracked well lets just say all u see is pink n blue on the screen happened n i hooked it to my tv n i was playing wit the resolution n size n i adjusted it something n now all i nhave is a black screen wit a pic in the middle of it n the only thing i can do is right click n the bar pops up wit catlyst which is on top n on the bottom has resolution gadgets n personalised n i do not know else to do i tried alt ctrl del n takes the pic away n then i hit the button between alt n ctrl on the right of space n the pic comes back up pleaseeeeeeee help me

View unverified member's comment - posted by Dell D620

April 4, 2011 9:41 AM

Hello Matt,

I have a quick question if you wouldn't mind helping me out. It would be really appreciated, as I'm desperate at this point. Here's my problem: I used a Dell Inspiron 9300 to hook up to my projector using the normal Fn-F8 method. However, when I unplugged my projector, the screen size on Firefox is absolutely huge and will not revert back to normal. I've tried a system restore to a later date. Ctrl and then the down button to change the size. FN-F5, FN-f8. I've tried going to View on Firefox and then Reset, but noting works. I'd really appreciate it if you could help me out. thanks.

April 4, 2011 9:42 AM

Hello Matt,

I have a quick question if you wouldn't mind helping me out. It would be really appreciated, as I'm desperate at this point. Here's my problem: I used a Dell Inspiron 9300 to hook up to my projector using the normal Fn-F8 method. However, when I unplugged my projector, the screen size on Firefox is absolutely huge and will not revert back to normal. I've tried a system restore to a later date. Ctrl and then the down button to change the size. FN-F5, FN-f8. I've tried going to View on Firefox and then Reset, but noting works. I'd really appreciate it if you could help me out. thanks.

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Back to Top | Comments 26-50 of 60 | Latest Comment | « Previous 1 2 3 Next »

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