How to Use Your Laptop As A Monitor?

Connecting a secondary monitor to your computer is a straightforward process that I expect most of us reading this article to be knowing. All you have to do is use a VGA or HDMI cable to connect the computer to the secondary monitor you want to use. But did you know it is possible to also use your laptop as a secondary monitor to another computer? 

Most of the laptops are not designed to input display content via HDMI or VGA because these are both output media interfaces. That means connecting two laptops using a VGA or HDMI is not a practical solution if you want to use one of your laptops as a secondary display. However, there are other methods that you can use to do this. 

If you are keen to learn how to use your laptop as a secondary display, this article is for you. We shall discuss why in the first place you may want to use your laptop as a monitor and then take you through a step-by-step procedure of how to it. Let’s jump in.

Why you may want to use your laptop as a secondary monitor

  • To reference content. If you have a spare laptop, you may choose to use it to display say a video tutorial while you take notes on your main laptop. Or you might be reading content from a pdf while taking notes in MS Word on your main pc. These kinds of scenarios are common when someone is trying to learn something new, like coding. 
  • Use two programs simultaneously. There are some situations where you may want to run two programs all at once while viewing the processes of each in full-screen format. For instance, you might be taking an online test within a certain application on one screen, while browsing for the information required on another screen. 
  • Displaying content from your Android or iOS device: Newer Windows laptops have the option of using them to display content from an Android smartphone. If you have an Android phone you may at times want to display some content on a much bigger display than the one your phone has. With third-party apps, it is also possible to project content from an iOS device to your laptop’s display.
  • To test faults in another display. If you happened to have two laptops and one of them has a fault with its display, you may use the other to confirm the kind of fault it has. However, this is only possible if the primary laptop whose display you want to extend can still display content despite the faults. 
  • To connect to a laptop with a bigger display. In a situation where your primary laptop has a smaller screen, you may want to use your spare laptop with a bigger display as the monitor.  This kind of scenario is even more practical if the laptop with a smaller display is more powerful, and you would wish to take advantage of its processing power while using the one with a bigger screen to just view content. 

Now that you know why it might be necessary to use one of your laptops as a secondary monitor, let us dive into how you can do this. We shall share three methods where one involves using Windows native settings and the others will require using third-party applications. Please note that both of these methods apply only to Windows PCs. 


Using Projection settings on Windows 10

Windows 10 has inbuilt settings that you can use to display content on another display while doing some other different thing on your primary screen. This method works both wirelessly and through a cable connection. But since we are connecting another laptop as the secondary display, the cable method won’t work. In this case, we shall have to use the wireless alternative. 

Below are the steps of how to use the wireless method;

Configuring settings of the laptop you want to use a secondary monitor.

  • Click on the Windows Startup menu and select settings (gear icon). This will open the settings tab, where you can configure a couple of things. You may also access settings by searching for them using Cortana. 
  • Within settings, select system by clicking on the systems icon.
  • Under the system settings, click the “Projecting to this pc” option on the left side of the system settings tab. 
Using Projection settings on Windows 10
  • Under the “Projecting to this PC” menu, change the first drop-down menu to available. Please note that not all laptops support this option. If this option is faint on yours, it may be because your laptop doesn’t support this feature. Your Bluetooth needs to be turned on before you enable this option. 
Using Projection settings on Windows 10 2
  • You may also want to configure other settings under like requiring the other device to first request permission before they project content to the laptop’s display. There is also an option as adding a pin that has to be input in the other device before it gets connected. 
  • After you are done with the above steps, the next thing is to configure settings on your primary device. If you happen to get any errors in the process, the answers on this forum on Microsoft’s website could be of help. 

Configure settings on the primary laptop

  • Click the notifications/actions button that is usually at the extreme right of your taskbar. A menu will be opened that has a couple of icons that you can turn on and off. Based on your PC settings, you may have to click expand before you see all the icons on this menu. 
  • Choose the project option and click connect to the wireless display. Your pc will start searching for any available wireless displays that are near your laptop. The name of the laptop you want to use as a monitor should also appear on the list. Simply click on it and select connect.
  • Based on how you configured the settings on the secondary laptop, you may have to accept the connection on the other laptop before the two get connected. You may also have to input a pin if you chose that option on the secondary laptop. 
  • The final step is configuring your display settings. Right-click on your main PC’s desktop and select display settings. Within the display menu under the “multiple displays” section, select “extend the desktop to this display.” 

That is all you have to do to use one of your laptops as a secondary monitor. However, if you don’t find it comfortable to use the native windows settings, you can use third-party apps like Spacedesk and Sharemouse. Below are the steps of how you can use each of these third-party apps.

Using third party programs

Spacedesk is one of the most used multi-monitor apps, and it has an average rating of over 4.5/5 on most of the popular app stores for PC and mobile applications. This app allows you to use your laptop as a monitor for both PCs and mobile devices. Their mobile app in the Appstore and Google Playstore makes it possible for phone users to also project content from their devices to the laptop’s monitor. Below are the steps for using Spacedesk.

  • Download and install the Spacedesk driver software onto your primary pc and the Spacedrive viewer software onto the laptop you intend to use as a monitor. Both of these installation files are on the official Spacedesk website. The app you download should also be based on the operating system of your devices. You will have to restart both PCs after the installations. 
  • Once you are done with the installations, head over to the secondary monitor and open the Spacedesk viewer app. In the top right corner of the application’s UI, click “file” and select connect. 
  • The software will automatically start searching for your primary device, and it should be among the list of the discovered devices. 
  • Select your pc (by clicking on its name) and hit connect. All the content it bears on its monitor will be replicated on the secondary laptop. 
  • That’s all you have to do.

    This process is pretty simple for even non-tech savvies. You might be wondering why you had to install the driver software on your primary yet you didn’t use it at all. The driver software has a program that automatically creates all the configurations required for your primary PC to project content onto the secondary. So, this saves you the burden of having to make all these configurations manually as we did in the first method. 

Sharemouse is another app that you can use to turn one of your laptops into a secondary monitor. The good news is that share mouse works for both Windows and macOS. The core function of Sharemouse is letting you use one keyboard and mouse on multiple PCs. However, for this application to work, you need to have all the computers connected to the same network.

Sharemouse can be used on up to 9 computers at ago. The number of computers you can interconnect depends on the package of the app that you choose. You can buy the standard Sharemouse for a one-time fee of $49.5. The professional version of the app goes for a one-time fee of $139.5. Both of these packages come with 1-year free maintenance. Let’s dive into the steps of how to use this application. 

  • Download the Sharemouse app from their official website and install it on your pc or mac. You should also go ahead and install this app on the other computers that you want to interconnect. Please remember to choose the right version of the application based on the operating system of your pc. After installing the app, we recommend that you restart your computer. 
  • After installing the app, you will have to input your license. You will only have to install the license on one computer, and it will automatically reflect on all the computers that are connected to that network. 
  • Now that the app is already installed, click the drop-up menu icon towards the extreme right of your task bar and select monitor manager. All the computers that are currently connected to the network will be indicated within the app. 
  • At this point, you can control all these computers right from your primary device. You can also copy files from one computer to another by simply dragging and dropping.
  • You may also choose to customize some of the settings as you wish. Some of the settings that can be changed include creating a keyboard shortcut for switching between the different monitors. You may also configure all the PCs to always shutdown whenever you shut down the primary PC. The number of possible configurations will depend on the kind of license you chose. If you want to enjoy all the features in Sharemouse, you will have to pay for the professional version of the app.

Closing thoughts

You can use any of the above methods based on which one you find easy to use or the one you can afford. Using windows default settings and Deskspace are both free, but they don’t give you the level of functionality you will get with Sharemouse. However, for purposes of just using your laptop as secondary monitors, all these methods are good enough to get the job done. If you would wish to use the other functionalities within Sharemouse, you can go ahead and pay for it. 

While using any of the methods above, you need to ensure that your wireless networks (WIFI and Bluetooth) are turned on because a network connection is required for your PCs to communicate. With Sharemouse, you need to go an extra step and make sure all the PCs you want to connect are on the same network for this method to work. 

Otherwise using your laptop as a monitor involves simple procedures no matter the method you choose to use. We recommend that you connect to a secure network if you want to use the Sharemouse method to protect your computer from being compromised by hackers who could take advantage of insecure networks.

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