How to Setup, Configure, and Troubleshoot Multiple Monitors in Windows 7

Summary: Learn how to setup multiple displays or monitors in Microsoft Windows 7 on a Dell PC. Find information on connecting, changing display preferences and troubleshooting multiple monitor See more

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This article is a how-to guide for setting up multiple monitors in Windows 7.

Microsoft Windows 7 and later operating systems support multiple monitor setups, which can help enhance productivity. When you connect an additional monitor to your Dell PC, Windows automatically detects the monitor and displays your PC's desktop screen. You can then choose how you want your desktop screen to appear. Display options include:

  • 'Duplicate These Displays'
  • 'Extend These Displays' 
  • 'Show Desktop Only on 1' or 'Show Desktop Only on 2'
  • Change the screen orientation, resolution settings, or color depth
SLN128740_en_US__1icon Note: The Dell OptiPlex 3040 or 3046 with add-on VGA port can only support two external monitors at one time without an external graphics solution.
SLN128740_en_US__1icon Note: To learn more about configuring 3 displays on compatible Dell Latitude PCs, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article How to configure three (3) displays on a Dell Latitude Notebook with Intel HD 4x00 Graphics.

Expand the sections below for more information.

Ensure that the video port on your PC matches an available video port on the monitor, like VGA, DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort (DP). Connect your PC to the monitor or another display device - like a projector or TV - using a compatible cable. The monitor manufacturer should have provided this cable with the monitor.

To learn more, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article How do I Connect a Monitor to a PC?.

To learn more about different ports on your PC, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article A Guide to External Ports and Connectors on a Dell PC.

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Determine the type of video connectors that are available on your PC and the monitors. The number of video connectors depends on the type of graphics card that is installed in your PC. Most desktop PC graphics or video cards can support two or more monitors, depending on the graphics card and PC specifications. However, laptop PCs can support up to two monitors depending on the PC specifications. To learn more, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article How do I Connect a Monitor to a PC?.

SLN128740_en_US__1icon Note: To identify the video connectors available on your PC and monitor, refer to the User Manual or User Guide of the PC and monitor.

Once the cables are connected securely, your PC should automatically detect and display the desktop screen on the connected monitors. By default, Microsoft Windows 7 duplicates the displays on all monitors. You can then select the display style that best suits your needs.

Microsoft Windows provides multiple options for displaying the desktop screen across multiple monitors that are connected to your PC.

  1. Duplicate These Displays (also called Clone mode) - Show the entire desktop on both displays. The second or other monitors mirror the primary monitor.
  2. Extend These Displays - Stretch the desktop across the two displays. The desktop screen of your PC is extended across all the detected monitors.
  3. Show Desktop Only on 1 - Use only display 1 and show nothing on display 2. The second monitor is ignored, and only the primary monitor is used.
  4. Show Desktop Only on 2 - Use only display 2 and show nothing on display 1. The primary monitor will be disabled, and only the second monitor will be used.
SLN128740_en_US__1icon Note:
Connecting a second monitor to a Dell laptop PC, the default display style is set to Duplicate.
Connecting a second monitor to a Dell desktop PC, the default display style is set to Extend.

Changing the Display Style

  1. Right-click on the Desktop and select Screen Resolution.
  2. Change the Multiple Displays drop-down as per your preference.
  3. Select the desired monitor and adjust the resolution using the slider.
  4. Click Apply.
    Note: In the confirmation window, click the Keep Changes to keep the new settings or click Revert to return to the old ones.

How do I change the display or video settings in Microsoft Windows?

To learn how to change the screen resolution, adjust the refresh rate and change the size of fonts and icons, refer to the links below based on the operating system installed on your PC:

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Docking station or port replicator provides a simplified way of connecting multiple peripherals like keyboard, mouse, printer, external hard drives and one or more external monitors to a laptop PC which usually have limited connectivity ports. Most docking stations or port replicators have video ports to connect two or more external monitors. Docking station or port replicator when connected to a laptop PC allows you to switch off the laptop LCD and use the external monitors instead.

To learn more about different ports on your PC, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article A Guide to External Ports and Connectors on a Dell PC

  1. For optimum performance, it is recommended that you install the latest video drivers on your PC.
  2. Connect the external monitors to the Dell docking station using a compatible VGA, DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort (DP) cable.
    SLN128740_en_US__1icon Note: Refer to the documentation of the Dell docking station and the PC to determine the type of video ports that are available on both devices.
  3. Connect the docking station to the PC using the provided upstream cable.
    SLN128740_en_US__1icon Note: Depending on the specific model of your docking station, the upstream cable may be a USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed USB), Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) cable. For more information, refer to the User Guide or User Manual of the docking station.
  4. Install the docking station drivers and any additional software that is required.
    SLN128740_en_US__1icon Note: Refer to the User Guide or User Manual of the Dell docking station to learn more about specific software or drivers that may be required.
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Dell wireless monitors enable your Windows laptop computer, Android smartphone, or tablet with Miracast capability to display the screen image to the monitor using a Wi-Fi Direct interface. When you connect the laptop, smartphone, or tablet to the Dell wireless monitor, you can access the mouse and keyboard that is connected to the monitor and control the devices.

You can either extend or duplicate your Windows desktop wirelessly to one of these monitors and connect your Android 5.0 (and above) tablet or smartphone via Wi-Fi simultaneously through Dual Cast.

To learn more about how to set up or troubleshoot a Dell wireless monitor, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article Guide to Dell Wireless Monitors.

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The latest TVs and PCs provide a wide variety of video connectivity options. Ensure that the video port on your PC matches an available video port on your TV, like VGA, DVI, or HDMI.

Connecting your PC with a TV

  1. Connect the TV to the PC using a compatible cable.
  2. Power on the TV.
  3. Change the video input source on the TV to match the video source connection from the PC (HDMI, VGA, DVI, etc.)
  4. Power on the PC.

If you encounter a problem when trying to connect your PC with a TV:

  1. Power on the TV before powering on the PC.
  2. Ensure that the correct video input source is selected on the TV.
  3. Coaxial or S-video cable connections do not support higher resolution, ensure to set the resolution to 800 x 600 or less.
  4. Certain TVs may require you to adjust the screen aspect ratio for best possible scaling and resolution.
  5. Certain TVs may require you to set the TV as the primary display. Change the video settings in Microsoft Windows and restart the PC.
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Microsoft Windows 10, 8 or 8.1, and 7 support multiple monitor setups. If you encounter problems with multiple monitors, like a blank or black screen, no monitor signal, resolution issues, etc., refer to the Dell knowledge-base article How to Troubleshoot Multiple Monitor Problems on Dell PCs?.

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Informational Videos

Graphic Cards Explained (Official Dell Tech Support - YouTube)

Learn How To Setup Dual Monitors in Windows 7

Change Screen Resolution (Official Dell Tech Support - YouTube)

No Video Troubleshooting Steps (Official Dell Tech Support - YouTube)

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Affected Product

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Last Published Date

05 Dec 2020



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