Using an External Display or Projector with a Notebook

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Up to three settings might might neeed to be changed to have a notebook computer display output via its external video connector. The following description is, of necessity, generic because of variations between different hardware and operating systems. Refer to the User's Guide for the notebook, if necessary, for specific guidance regarding the following settings :

Manuals for many models may be downloaded from he following site


Connect Video Cable

  1. contemporary Operating Systems dynamicallly configure video devices
  2. ensure that video cable between note/netbook and external display is connected before proceeding
    • HDMI cables are the simplest to connect and provide the best quality, if the computer has relevant output socket
      • if a DVI-HDMI adapter must be used then this must be connected with both devices powered OFF
    • older devices may be connected via VGA cable

Enable External Video Output in the BIOS

  1. power up or reboot the notebook and press the key/keystroke sequence required to enter Setup mode
    • known sequences for various devices:
      • Dell - press F2 at start-up
  2. find any options for external video output.
    • not all notebooks have BIOS settings for this because many have the external video permanently enabled at hardware level
    • note also that this setting is usually not related to "docking station" on larger notebooks ie external video should work regardless of whether or not use of a docking station is enabled.
    • ensure that any option for external video is "enabled"
  3. Save, then exit Setup

Configure the Second Display/Monitor/Video card

  1. note that this is done at Operating System level
    • If more than one Operating System is installed then boot to the one which will be used with the external display.
  2. typically the second display is configured by invoking "Control Panel" and selecting the option "Display" The exact nomenclature is operating system dependent
    • if there is an on-screen button labelled "identify displays" or equivalent, then left-click on that
      • a "1" appearing on the inbuilt LCD display indicates that the external display will be the second display
      • proceed to configure the display other than the inbuilt LCD
  3. it is better to pick conservative settings if the notebook will be used at various locations with different external display devices
    • most notebooks, including those having wide-screen inbuilt LCD displays, can have the external display set for conventional 4:3 ratio and that will provide the most flexible arrangement.
      • resolution 1024 x 768
      • vertical refresh rate 60 Hz
    • the above settings are also safe for most LCD monitors. Higher settings might not work and might also damage the device.
  4. the main Training Room projector, for example, does handle widescreen modes. It works best with the following settings:
    • resolution 1280 x 800
    • vertical refresh rate 60 Hz
  5. there will probably be an option to setup "multiple monitors"
    • within this option select "clone" or equivalent in order to have the full screen sent to both displays
    • Windows will operate multiple displays at identical resolutions
    • other Operating System should adjust the image sent to the two displays automatically, to cater for differing aspect ratios and resolutions.
  6. Save the settings and exit Control Panel.

Use External Power Supply

  1. the external video display will add to the power drain of the notebook and may discharge the battery much more quickly. Plug in and power up the external power supply for the notebook, if available
    • if the external power supply is not available, then do not activate the external display, as per next step, for prolonged periods

Activate Output to External Display/Projector

  1. on most notebooks this is achieved by pressing a keystroke combination. Known combinations:
    • Dell combination is Fn simultaneously with F8
  2. although a notebook will accept this change at any time, whilst running, many OS require a subsequent re-boot, in order to recognise a second display
  3. each time the combination is pressed, the notebook switches to the next of the three options:
    • internal LCD only
    • external display only
    • internal LCD plus external display
  4. note that if the external display, in particular, is in "sleep" mode, then it may take 5 to 10 seconds to respond the the input signal. Therefore, wait at least 10 seconds between each press of the keystroke combination and check whether the external display responds.

Repeat Display Configuration for other Operating Systems

  1. Configure the Second Display/Monitor/Video card is the only setting which is Operating System dependent
    • that procedure may be repeated for other Operating Systems, if desired, after output to the external display has been successfully achieved with the first Operating System

Additional Issues with Training Room Projector

Some further notes regarding the projector in the Training Room.

  1. Video Cables
    • preferably use the HDMI cable that is now provided
      • Some modern notebooks have DVI connector only and Apple brand notebooks may have a different connector again. Users would need to bring their own adapter.
    • a VGA cable is also connected to the projector, for use with older computers
      • it may be necessary to by-pass the VGA splitter
  2. Remote
    • use the menu on the remote control of the projector to select which input (HDMI or VGA) is in use
      • this function is not automatic
  3. the projector has been known to mis-interpret apparently valid resolutions and either truncate the display or not display at all. If difficulty is experienced, then:
    • try connecting the notebook to a CRT display (which are generally more tolerant of resolutions) at the Centre and try to ascertain whether the notebook is actually putting signal to the external display connector.
    • if so, then revisit "Control Panel" and check that the settings for the second display are as above.
    • in some scenarios the only solution might be to work with the truncated display on the projector and rely on the notebook's LCD screen for the bottom few rows
      • with most Operating Systems the "task bar" can temporarily be repositioned at top of screen, to minimise inconvenience in this scenario

--[[--Rpeters 18:15, 18 August 2012 (EST)]] --