How to Use an External Monitor With a Closed Laptop
Put Your Laptop in Clamshell Mode While Using a Monitor
So you've got yourself a cool Windows laptop or MacBook to use while on the road. When you are home though, you have a much bigger and better computer monitor. You also have a wireless keyboard and mouse. When you are at home, you want to continue using your laptop software and memory, but you also want to set your laptop aside and not use the laptop screen. Closing the lid of your laptop and using an external screen is also known as clamshell mode.
The article will show you how to keep running your laptop while the lid is closed while connected to an external monitor. You will still use all the great resources of the laptop, but you'll have it shut and set to the side while your external monitor, keyboard, and mouse do all the work.
This article is best suited for Windows 7 laptops and beyond as well as the latest version of Mac OS on a MacBook. Macs are a bit easier to hook up to the monitor.
Do I Need an HDMI Cable?
In most cases, if you are hooking up your laptop to an external monitor, you will need an HDMI cable. Make sure the cable is long enough to reach to your monitor.
How to Use Your Windows Laptop With a Monitor and the Lid Closed
The first step to running your laptop with the lid closed is to click on the "Start" button. For those of you new to Windows, this is the circular Microsoft button on the lower left side of your screen.
Then go ahead and select "Control Panel" in the window that appears to the side.
Go to the section titled "Hardware and Sound." It is located about the middle left section of the control panel window. Click directly on the words "Hardware and Sound"
In the "Hardware and Sound" window, look for the "Power Options" section. This is located about halfway down the window.
In the power options section, click on "Change What the Power Buttons Do."
In the window that opens, look for the section titled "When I Close the Lid"
Next to this title, you'll see two drop-down menus that by default will be set to "Sleep."
Change the "On Battery" and "Plugged In" drop-down menus to "Do Nothing." Depending on which power source you want to use while using an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
Then finish by clicking the "Save Changes" button at the bottom of the window.
That should do it. Now when you close the lid, your laptop won't do anything when you close it. It will continue to run. Now you'll be able to use all the resources of the laptop (via your external keyboard, monitor, and mouse) while it is shut.
Another screen might appear, asking you what power plan you want to use. I just close this screen by hitting the close "X" block. I haven't messed with this and so far haven't found a need to.
Also, when you close your laptop lid, your external monitor might go black for a second. Don't panic, as it will come back on. It only does this temporarily.
Changing the Display and Audio Options
- Once you have changed the power settings, you have to make sure that the display settings and the audio settings are what you want. Using a large monitor will change the resolution of the image on the screen.
- Open up the project menu by hitting the Windows key + P
- You will see a few options for how you want to display your laptop to the monitor but choose 2nd screen only. That way, your screen will only appear on the external monitor.
- Go to settings and click on display options to make sure that the resolution is set correctly. Keep in mind that older laptops will not be able to have the same resolution as newer ones and that there may be a discrepancy from your laptop's resolution and the resolution of your monitor.
- Depending on the resolution of your laptop and monitor, you will have to change those settings.
- You may also have to change the audio settings to use your monitor's speakers. This can also be accessed from the hardware and audio section of the control panel.
Instructions for a Windows Laptop
How to Use Your MacBook With a Monitor and the Lid Closed
MacBooks are a bit easier to configure as they will automatically match the resolution of the monitor, though the cable you have to use may be different. Make sure you have an HDMI cable if your MacBook has that port. Newer MacBooks will have a USB-C port, so you will need to purchase a special adapter. If you have a newer monitor, it may work with a USB-C port, so make sure to check the ports on your monitor.
Connect your MacBook to the cable and adjust the screen settings as needed.
Once you close the screen, the monitor will go black for a few seconds, and then the display will be normal.
Instructions for a MacBook
If you have the option and the right WiFi setup, you can mirror your screen to an external monitor wirelessly. Make sure you look at your laptop and monitor to see if they can support that. Newer Windows laptops and MacBooks will have the option for you to connect wirelessly. On Mac OS, it is known as AirPlay, which allows you to mirror your screen to an HDTV through an AppleTV accessory.
How do You Like Using Your Laptop With an External Keyboard and Monitor?
Thanks so much for reading this article. This will really come in handy when you want to utilize all the benefits of desktop accessories such as external keyboards, a mouse, and a large external monitor screen. You'll also save some space since you are using your laptop rather than some big old tower or bulky desktop.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2011 TurtleDog