How to Use a Laptop as a Monitor (SIMPLE Process)

If your job requires you to consistently multi-task such as doing emails, being on skype business calls, taking notes, and carrying out your day-to-day tasks all at the same time, then you’ve probably come accustomed to yet tired of switching between endless tabs and application windows on your computer. 

Believe it or not, whilst you may think you’re excelling at multitasking (kudos to you because you are), the time wasted whilst opening, closing, and trying to find your necessary window or tab can add up at the end of the day and result in you doing slightly less work than you’re capable of.

What if we told you that you can boost your productivity and maintain better focus when doing your tasks by only tweaking a couple of things, well we’re about to tell you how.

Using your laptop as a monitor (or a second monitor) will allow you to have one task open on one screen, whilst carrying out another task on a secondary screen creating a seamless combination of productivity, communication, and creativity. 

One way many people facilitate a laptop as a monitor is by taking their meetings or calls on one laptop and then using a desktop computer to take their meeting notes or to create a collaboration of ideas with everyone else on the call. 

You may even just want to use your laptop as a monitor to create a dope gaming set-up in your home that will boost your gaming experiences. 

So if this sounds like something that would benefit you, then keep on reading to find out the process of how to use a laptop as a monitor. 

How to Use Your Laptop as a Monitor (For Two Windows Devices)

If both devices you’re going to be using for your dual monitors are Windows then you’ll need to follow these instructions, however, if the primary device you’re using is a Windows but the laptop you’re going to use is a Mac you’ll want to skip to the next set of instructions. 

Ideally, you should have the latest version of Windows on both your devices.

Enabling the Laptop You Want to Use as a Screen

  1. Open the Settings app on the laptop you want to use as a monitor
  2. Select System
  3. Then select Projecting to This PC
  4. Then you’ll be able to pick the options on the window that suits your needs best

Here are what the options mean below:

  • ‘Windows, PCs, and phones can project to this PC when you say it’s ok’ – The setting is on ‘Always Off’ by default but you can change it to ‘Available Everywhere’ or ‘Available Everywhere on Secured Networks’ depending on where you’ll primarily be using the dual monitors from
  • ‘Ask to project this to PC’ Choose between ‘First Time Only’ or ‘Every Time a connection is requested’ based on whether you’d like to be asked every time you’re going to use your laptop as a dual monitor with another desktop
  • Require PIN for pairing – If you work in a public or office space then we’d recommend creating a PIN that must be entered when a device is trying to project to your laptop screen
  • This PC can only be discovered for projection when it’s plugged in – This is a good option to select if you’ll be working from home a lot and want to save the battery life of your laptop

TIP: If you’re working in an office or public space, make a note of your PC/device name that is displayed at the bottom of the settings window as you’ll need to choose this name later when connecting your device to your primary monitor.

Connecting Your Primary Monitor to Your Laptop 

Now you’ve done the first step of enabling your laptop, it’s time to move on to connecting it to your primary monitor (desktop or laptop).

  1. Go to the desktop/laptop you want to use as your main monitor and press Windows Key+P on your keyboard
  2. Then select how you want the screen to be displayed (Orientation & Resolution)
  3. Select Extend if you would like the laptop to be a second monitor so you have more screen space for your tasks or select Duplicate if you’d like the monitors to display the same thing (good if you’re working in a group)
  4. Your laptop/device’s name should now have come up as an option for you to choose from
  5. Approve the connection of your laptop to your main device and then you can continue to use both screens
  6. You’re now finished. When you’re finished using your laptop as a second monitor, make sure to select Disconnect otherwise it’ll continue sharing the display

TIP: When connecting your main desktop to your laptop for dual monitor use, click ‘Allow Input’ to give access for the laptop to use the touchpad, keyboard, and any touchscreen functionality so you can work with another person simultaneously. 

How to Use Your Laptop as a Monitor (Windows & Mac)

If your main desktop/laptop is a Windows but the laptop you’re using is a Mac, then follow our instructions below to use your laptop as a second monitor. 

  1. Press the Windows Key+P to open projection display settings 
  2. Select Settings
  3. Two screens should come up on your display. Select the off-centered screen and drag it next to the screen in the middle by your main monitor
  4. Then select Yes to enable the new monitor (your laptop)
  5. Check that the ‘Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor’ option is enabled
  6. Apply changes and get to work

How to Use Your Laptop as a Monitor (For Macs Only)

There are a handful of ways you can connect a Mac laptop to another Mac monitor (desktop or laptop) but we’ll be showing you one of the easiest methods to do so.

You will need the updated versions of Mac OS on both your devices and also a Mini DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, or Thunderbolt 2 or a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C). 

If your Mac is from any time after 2011, then it should have a Thunderbolt port instead of a Mini DisplayPort, however, these two ports are compatible. 

If you’re going to be connected an iMac or MacBook that has a Thunderbolt 2 to a newer MacBook that has a Thunderbolt 3 (which comes on the newer MacBook Pros) then you’ll need an adapter that converts Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 which you can buy directly from Apple or Amazon.

  1. Identify what connector/adapter you’ll need to connect your iMac or MacBook with your MacBook laptop
  2. Plug them both in
  3. Open System Preferences and then go to Displays
  4. Click on the Arrangement tab in the open window
  5. Select the Mirror Displays tick box if you want the laptop monitor to show the same content as your original monitor (however you don’t want to mirror the displays as you’ll be using one device as a secondary monitor)
  6. Drag the display boxes to where you want them and drag the white menu bar on the screen to which screen you’d prefer to be dominant (if you’re using your laptop as a second screen then you’ll want the menu bar on the primary monitor)

TIP: If your Mac won’t detect a connected display then try putting both your Mac devices to sleep and then wake them back up to try again.

Controlling Your Desktop From Your Computer

On the other hand, you may be seeking to use your current laptop to control another computer in your home, maybe you prefer using the trackpad and smaller keyboard compared to a big bulky monitor, mouse, and large keyboard of your computer.

So instead of your laptop being used as just a monitor, you’ll have complete control over your PC but just by using your laptop instead.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by downloading a third-party software called TeamViewer which simplifies the process instead of going through a long procedure of trying to do it directly through your computers.

You can download TeamViewer by going to the TeamViewer website on both your laptop and your computer and download it to both devices.

Once it’s all downloaded on both devices, you’ll need to install it and go through the short installation steps (it shouldn’t take too long).

Then follow these steps to begin controlling your desktop from your laptop:

  1. Open the TeamViewer software on both your laptop and desktop
  2. Find the TeamViewer ID for your desktop computer
  3. Type in the ID number of your desktop computer into the Partner ID field
  4. Click Connect
  5. Enter in your computer’s password

To find your TeamViewer ID for your laptop, you’ll need to open up the TeamViewer software and then click Show TeamViewer or Show Status Dialog and then a nine-digit number should come up which is the one you’ll need to enter into your laptop to connect them. 

Your computer’s password is not the personal password you use to sign in to your account on your computer, it’ll be the randomized password listed under the TeamViewer ID.

You’ll now have free will to control your desktop computer directly from the comfort of a mobile laptop. 

Using Steam In-Home Streaming to Stream Games From Your Desktop to Your Computer

If you’re a true gamer, you’ll know the importance of having a good set-up to be the best of the best.

However, you don’t need to buy additional monitors just to do this, you can make your laptop an additional laptop and make the most of what you already have. 

This will also allow you to play games from the comfort of your bed if you don’t want to sit up in your gaming chair at a desk.

You won’t need to have an ultra-fast mega gaming laptop to do this as you’ll be connected to your main desktop but just displaying it on your lightweight laptop. 

All you need to do is use Steam’s In-Home Streaming option (if you’re a true gamer, you should already have Steam downloaded on your system).

Here’s how you start up Steam’s In-Home Streaming from your desktop to your laptop:

  1. Open up Steam on your laptop and desktop devices
  2. Log in using the same account and enable in-home streaming on both devices
  3. Instead of clicking Play, click the drop-down menu and choose the option Stream From
  4. As In-Home Streaming is enabled on both devices, it should automatically find your laptop device
  5. Select your laptop device from the home screen 
  6. Then press Stream

You should now be able to stream your games from your desktop computer but instead, use the keyboard and mouse on your laptop to control and play the game. 

To enable in-home streaming on your devices, you’ll need to go to the top left corner of the and click the Settings option, then click In-Home Streaming in the window and tick the box that says enable streaming. 

You can also change the settings for your laptop to go between Fast, Beautiful or Balanced, which will suit your current gaming needs.

If your network connection is slow, then we’d recommend using ‘Fast’ as you won’t experience as much lag in your game, however, if this is your first time playing a new game that has some fantastic graphics, then you may want to play it in Beautiful to get the full effect. 

Streaming games is a very heavy task for your computers and the wireless connection may struggle to keep up which may alter your gaming experience.

To get the quickest and fluid gaming experience when streaming from your computer to your laptop, we recommend hardwiring your computers and routers with ethernet cables. 

Stephen Deane

Stephen is a gaming and tech enthusiast. He has been playing computer games since the Commodore 64 days in the 80s. He has worked as Broadcast Engineer with BBC News and knows a thing or two about building, fixing, and playing with PCs.