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How to fix external monitor not detected on Windows 10

External monitors are some of the easiest peripherals to set up with any PC. It doesn’t matter if you’re running Linux, Windows, or even on a Mac. In most cases you only need to connect a cable or two to get the job done. That said, there are always exceptions. If your external monitor isn’t detected when you plug it in, you will have to examine both hardware and software to fix the problem. Here are a few things you can try.

Basic checks

Make sure that;

  1. The monitor is plugged in and turned on. Some monitors have soft power keys while others have hard ones. They may be located at the front or along the side or hidden in the bevel of the screen. Consult your monitor’s manual to make sure you’ve turned it on.
  2. Make sure that you’re using the correct cable to connect your laptop or your desktop to the monitor. It should be pushed all he way in and it should be connected to the correct port.
  3. When you turn a monitor and do not connect it to any video source, it still has a backlight on the screen that indicates the screen is on and working. If the backlight won’t turn on, it likely indicates a hardware problem.

Fix external monitor not detected

If you’ve bought the monitor second hand or have taken it out of storage and are using it for the first time, you should make sure that it is still working and not damaged in some other way. If everything checks out, try the following fixes.

Enable second display

Windows 10 should automatically start showing your desktop when you connect a monitor to your system. This holds true if you’re connecting a primary or a secondary monitor. Use the Win+P keyboard shortcut to open the Projection panel. Make sure the Extend Display option is selected.

Force detect display

Open the Settings app and go to the System group of settings. Select the Display tab. If Windows 10 has detected the monitor, you should see it listed there next to your primary screen. If it isn’t appearing there, click the Detect button and it should appear.

Check for shadow monitors

It is possible that you have shadow monitors installed on your system. They don’t appear in the Settings app but they may interfere when you try to connect a real monitor on your system. We’ve covered how you can remove shadow monitors on Windows 10. Follow the guide and then check to see if your monitor is detected.

Install drivers

Monitors are generally plug and play devices. If you have a monitor with special features, you might need to install a driver to benefit from its extra features but it should still display your desktop even if you haven’t installed said drivers. Windows 10 installs generic drivers that enable the monitor so your screen shouldn’t be blank. That said, check for driver updates that may be pending a system restart, check if any graphics driver updates are available, and if there is a specific app or driver that is meant to be used with the monitor, install it.

Display Mode & Ports

Monitors connect to PCs/laptops in one of three ways; HDMI, VGA, and DVI. Each type has its own port and when a cable is connected, it automatically detects it. That said, some monitors may not automatically detect it. In this case, look at your monitor for a settings panel. Use it either to set the display/connection mode to Auto, or to the one that you’re using.

Check brightness and contrast

External monitors have their own brightness and contrast controls. These are controlled by a set of buttons on the monitor. They should be near the power button but check your monitor’s manual to be sure. Use the buttons to make sure the brightness and contrast have not been reduced to 0, or to a point where the desktop is not visible.

Hubs, connectors, and wireless displays

If the connection to your monitor is a simple one i.e., the cable is connected directly to your PC and the monitor, there are fewer chances of things going wrong. If you’re using a display hub, a connector, a converter, or are connecting a wireless display, you have several other factors to contend with.

For wireless displays, make sure that Windows 10 supports it. You might need to install driver updates or even update your OS to get a wireless display to work.

For hubs and connectors, if you can do without them, connect the monitor directly. If it works, there might be a problem with the hub or the monitor itself may not work unless it has a direct connection to a PC or laptop. If you have a VGA port and you’re using a VGA to HDMI converter, that might be the problem. These converters don’t always works and it’s best to use the ports you have.

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