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How to set up dual monitors in Windows

Setting up two great monitors can help boost your productivity and give you access to a second screen for searching or staying social while you play games or watch a movie. Setting up multiple monitors in Windows doesn't take long, and gives you a range of options to pick from so that your dual-screen (or more!) setup works exactly as you intended.

Here's how to set up multiple monitors in Windows.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

15 minutes

What You Need

  • Windows desktop PC or laptop

  • Multiple monitors

  • HDMI, DisplayPort, or USB-C cables

If you run into any problems during setup, check our out guide to the most common multi-monitor problems for more help.

Connect your monitors to your PC

The only thing you absolutely have to do as part of your multi-monitor setup, is plug them in. That means power for all of them, and a video connection to your PC or laptop. If you're unsure what cable(s) to use for your monitors, it will typically be HDMI or DisplayPort, but some modern displays can also use USB-C.

It's easier to use a cable that both the PC and monitor(s) support, although you can use an adapter at either end if you need to.

If you haven't bought the monitors yet, check out our list of the best monitors of 2024 for inspiration.

Once you've plugged the monitors in, turn them and the PC on and they should connect, with the second screen displaying a duplicate of the main monitor. If it doesn't, double check all the cables are connected properly, but don't worry. The configuration can sometimes be necessary to trigger the monitor to connect properly.

Windows 11 display settings page.
DigitalTrends

Configure the displays

Multiple monitors can be arranged in a few different configurations in Windows, and if you're using different models, they can have their own individual settings you need to adjust. Here's how to configure your new multi-monitor setup.

Step 1: Use Windows search to look for Display Settings and select the corresponding result.

Step 2: The Display Settings page gives you all the options for adjusting the various settings for each of your monitors. If one or more aren't displaying anything, select Detect. If that doesn't work, try unplugging and plugging them in again. Alternatively, try another display connection and cable.

You can use the drop-down menu on the right to choose between Extended displays and Duplicate displays.

Step 3: You can also make adjustments to the individual monitors, here, including changing their resolution, HDR mode, brightness, resolution, scale and more.

To adjust refresh rates for your monitors, select Advanced display under the Related settings heading.

Step 4: The final step in any multi-monitor setup is lining them up. Monitors usually look their best and most seamless if you place them side by side, flush with each other. The exact orientation will be up to your personal tastes, but try to have the monitors set up so you don't have to turn your head, and ideally keep them at around eye level when you're sitting or standing comfortably.

You don't want to deal with all the back pain issues I've faced off against.

Yamaha SR-C30A compact soundbar seen on a desk in front of dual computer monitors.
Yamaha / Yamaha

How to se tup multi-monitors in Windows 10

Setting up multiple monitors in Windows 10 is very similar to how it's done in Windows 11. Here's a quick look at how to do it.

Step 1: Right-click on an empty part of the screen, and choose Display Settings.

Step 2: The window this brings up will show your connected displays, which display is your primary display, and on which side the secondary is positioned (you can choose a different side by dragging the screen numbers). If you do not see your second monitor show up, try unplugging the cables and plugging them back in again. There is also a wireless option if you scroll down and choose Connect to a Wireless Display. If it’s still not working, check for Windows 10 updates, reboot, and try again.

How to setup dual monitors in Windows 10
DigitalTrends

Step 3: If both of your monitors are showing up, then you need to choose how they will work. Select your secondary monitor at the top, then scroll down in the Display Settings window and select the Multiple Displays list to see your options.

You have two primary choices. The first is to Extend Desktop to this Display. This will make your two monitors function as a single whole monitor with a stretched-out desktop that you can freely move things between, making it the ideal choice for most dual-monitor users. The other option is to Duplicate Desktop on 1 and 2. This option is usually reserved for teaching and training setups where one screen will be facing the learners.

How to setup dual monitors in Windows 10
DigitalTrends

Step 4: While you are in Display Settings, adjust other features so that both monitors are set up in the way you need. You can change the orientation and resolution of either monitor by clicking on it and then selecting from the choices below. For example, if you are a photographer editing a photo, you may want to buy a 4K secondary monitor and set it for a higher resolution for the photo while keeping your editing tools and menus on the primary screen. Keep in mind that resolution will also be limited by GPU and video output standards.

You can also change scale, adjust brightness, enable the Night Light mode for working in darker conditions, and more.

Windows 10 display settings.
DigitalTrends

Now that your dual monitors are set up, you better make sure they look good. Here's some of our favorite dual-screen wallpapers.

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