How to Use a Laptop as a Monitor

Did you know that you could use your laptop as a primary, secondary extended, third, or even as an additional screen for your gaming requirements? The addition of another screen to your desktop gives you flexibility, which is why you might have come across the same in many designer workstations. The need for a primary or secondary screen arises when you are working with multiple applications or programs, such as Word, a browser, an Excel sheet, etc., for example. In such a scenario, you could increase your productivity by simply adding another screen. But, that doesn’t really mean you need to invest in a new monitor; instead, all you need is your laptop, which you can convert into a monitor. This is the cheapest and most effective solution to your need of the hour. But, how do you do it? This guide will give you all the information you need.

Why a Second Monitor?

Not everyone is aware of the benefits of and how efficient a second monitor can be. If you have any old laptop and it doesn’t deliver the same level of performance as earlier, then it would be perfect to be used as a second monitor. The wide range of advantages that you get by using your laptop as a second monitor is:

  • Comparing two projects side-by-side, which enhances efficiency.
  • Play games or watch a movie on one screen and work on another.
  • Use one screen for research and another one for composition.
  • Use one screen exclusively for chat communications.
  • Alerts and notifications can be set to display on one screen.
  • Stream videos on YouTube or other video streaming services on one screen.

Apart from the popular options, we have discussed above, any project or job that requires you to toggle between two screens can be made productive using a second or third monitor. A laptop that is in working condition is an excellent option to be used as a secondary monitor. By using a secondary monitor, you would be able to explore more personalized benefits than those given above.

In the following sections, we shall discuss the secondary monitor setup on Windows-based laptops and desktops.

Tools Required to Create a Secondary Connection

In order to make use of your laptop as a secondary screen, you need the laptop, primary desktop PC, and both the devices should run on the latest Windows 10 OS platform. The need for the latest Windows 10 OS is because you get Miracast, a wireless technology that allows you to easily create a secondary screen. This eliminates the need for using any cords or cables or other wireless connectivity options. Video ports on the laptop are there only as output so you won’t need any cables or cords. You need to be the administrator on both the PC and laptop, so make sure you are logged in on both the devices to proceed further.

1. Miracast for Transforming the Laptop into a Secondary Monitor

Miracast is a built-in feature that is available on Windows 10 OS-based devices.

First, we shall discuss the setup procedure on the laptop. Simply follow the step by step procedure listed below:

  • Click the ‘Start’ icon and go on to ‘Settings’.

  • In this section, you can find the ‘System’ icon.

  • Under this, look for ‘Projecting to this PC’ on the left side menu.

  • Set to ‘available’ in the 1st drop-down menu.

Setup for the Main PC

  • First, click on the Notifications icon found on the bottom right corner of your taskbar.
  • Under the notifications section, click ‘Connect’.
  • Now the desktop will start looking for available connectivity options, and once you find the laptop displayed, simply select it.
  • In order to make the connection successful, go to the laptop and click on accept to pair.
  • Now, in the PC, right-click on the home screen and then select ‘Display Settings’.
  • Under the settings section, go to ‘Multiple Displays’ and then set ‘Extend desktop to this display’.

The process of connectivity using the Miracast built-in feature on Windows 10 desktops and laptops is as simple as that. You can simply drag and place the icons on to the secondary monitor to start working.

Connectivity Issues on Miracast

Miracast does come with flaws in the form of connectivity, which is experienced by several users. Certain connectivity issues are fundamental, and so, if you have such issues, it might be hard to get rid of them. Laptops must have Intel HD graphics in order to use Miracast for connectivity. Many users who have installed dedicated graphics card have reported having not been able to connect their laptop as a second monitor.

On the desktop side of things, you need a desktop that uses wireless connectivity, without which you won’t be able to connect the two. Gaming PC users should purchase a wireless network card separately in order to make the connection work. A wireless adapter that works on your PC should do just fine.

2. Third-Party Solutions

This is the better choice for those who have connectivity issues on Miracast and are not able to correct the problem in any way possible. None of the drawbacks of the Windows 10 OS Miracast have an impact on third-party solutions. Third-party solutions, such as Input Director, Space Desk, ShareMouse, Team Viewer, Synergy, Mouse Without Borders, etc., give you the ease of transforming your laptop into a secondary monitor. Let us discuss some of these KVM programs.

Input Director

This third party program is simple, easy to use, and intuitive. From the official website of Input Director, download and install the application on to the laptop and PC to be used. During the installation process, the app will give you the option of setting the master and slave. In this case, you need to set the master on PC and slave on the laptop. After doing this, you need to restart both the devices and then run the software.

The Input Director software on the laptop gives you the option to configure laptop settings, such as display, and even turn it to be the secondary screen. You should add the slave IP on to the master software through the Input Director network IP. By this, you can control the laptop right from the PC. If you wish to control the PC using the laptop, you need to do vice versa. This option of making a laptop the primary monitor gives you the ability to use all the power and other features of the desktop.


ShareMouse is also one of the free third-party KVM software, which is known for its simplicity and effective features. It comes loaded with features, such as drag and drop file sharing, shared clipboards, interactive monitor manager, and more. The option of setting the second monitor to fade when not in use adds flexibility. Another two key features that ShareMouse offers are screen tracking and power saving. For all the individual users who use this tool for non-commercial purposes, a huge benefit is that it is offered completely free of cost. But under this plan, the user will be limited to just 2 active monitors. There is a professional package also on offer, which gives you the ability to have 19 active monitors and other features, such as encryption, etc. for just $49.95.

Team Viewer

Team Viewer is an exclusive KVM software tool that delivers the ability to connect to PC remotely from your laptop. In this option, the laptop will be used to control the PC. The ability to use laptop controls, such as a mouse, trackpad, etc., for controlling your PC should be a great asset. Team Viewer is by far the best third party software that lets you control the desktop remotely using the laptop. Here is how to obtain a remote connection using this tool:

  • From the official Team Viewer website, download and install the app on both the PC and laptop.
  • Once this is done, restart both the devices and run the software.
  • Then, you need to get Desktop Team Viewer ID.
  • Now, open the Team Viewer app on the laptop to get the partner ID.
  • Select the partner ID field and then copy the Team Viewer IP onto this.
  • Once prompted, enter the desktop password and go.

By following the above-mentioned step-by-step procedure, you will be able to control your PC using your laptop.

3. Streaming Games to Laptop from PC

If you are a gamer, then the ability to use your laptop as a secondary monitor should come in handy. There is no need for you to have a high-resolution gaming PC or a performance-oriented one to enjoy games in the best quality possible. All you need is Steam, which acts as a streaming service, letting you stream all your favorite games from PC to laptop. This gives you the option to play your favorite games even using a low powered laptop or PC.

The game can now be controlled using the trackpad/keyboard and mouse of your laptop. The only issue that you might face in this aspect is in terms of latency, especially in multiplayer games. Having said that, almost all of the single-player games can be played in an effective manner using this streaming solution. You can simply have this in-home streaming service provider to enjoy unlimited gaming. Let us look at the procedure for using Steam effectively:

  • Steam streaming services should be opened on your PC and laptop.
  • Open the Steam games library on your laptop and select the game you want to play.
  • Click the Play icon and from the drop-down menu, select streaming.
  • The game will load using the processor and power of your PC and will be projected on to your laptop where you can enjoy playing the same.

The Verdict

We have discussed so far about the way you could transform your laptop into a second or third monitor, and also the various benefits of the same. Use any of the methods we have discussed above to set up a laptop as your second screen for different requirements and increase your productivity to a great extent.

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