How to connect a monitor to a computer


Updated: 12/20/2017 by Computer Hope

To see what a desktop computer is doing a monitor needs to the computer. The monitor allows you to see the operating system GUI and software applications, like playing a game or typing a document.

Note: If you are connecting a monitor to a laptop computer, see our page on how to connect an external monitor to my laptop for help.

There are three main types of monitors that can be connected to a computer: CRT, LCD, and LED. In general, each of those types of monitors can work with nearly any desktop computer. However, the computer must have the same type of monitor connection on it that the monitor itself uses to connect to the computer. A monitor can have a VGA, DVI, HDMI, or Display Port connector to connect to the computer. VGA is an older type of connection, while DVI and HDMI are newer types of connections. Each type of connection is unique and are not interchangeable.

To connect a monitor to a computer, follow the steps below.

  1. Find the monitor’s connector cable. It may be built into the back of the monitor, or it may be a separate cable that needs to be connected to the back of the monitor. Determine the type of connector used by the monitor.

  1. Look at the back of your computer and find the type of monitor connection that is available.
  2. If the computer has the same type of connection as the monitor connector cable has, connect the monitor connector cable to the back of the computer. Make sure the end of the connector cable is lined up with the connection on the back of the computer.

Note: If your monitor does not have the same connector as your computer you have a few options.

  • If the monitor has multiple connector types, you can buy a cable that is compatible with your computer and monitor.
  • You can purchase a video converter that takes one video signal into another.
  • Purchase a new video card or computer with the latest connectors.
  • Purchase a monitor that has the connectors you need.
  1. The VGA and DVI cables have two screws, one on either side of the connector. Make sure the cable screws line up with the nuts on the computer connection, then tighten the screws to secure the cable to the computer.
  2. If the monitor connector cable is a separate cable and not built-in to the back of the monitor, connect the cable to the back of the monitor.
  3. Plug the flat end of the monitor power cord (shown on the left in the picture below) into the back of the monitor, if not already done. The power cord may also be built into the back of the monitor.

Monitor power cord

  1. Plug the other end of the monitor power cord (shown on the right in the picture above) into a power outlet.
  2. Turn on the computer and turn on the monitor. The power button for the button is often found on the front of the monitor, near the bottom left or bottom right, or on the bottom edge of the monitor. It may also be located on the top side of the monitor as well. Most manufacturers have the power connector and other buttons in the bottom right corner of the display.
  3. The monitor is working if text or an image from the computer is being displayed on the screen.

If you have followed the above steps, your monitor should be all set and ready for use.

Tip: If you have a monitor with different connectors you may need to switch the input type to the type of connector you’re using with the buttons next to the power button.

Note: If you run into trouble getting the monitor to work, see our page for no display or black screen on a computer monitor to troubleshoot the issue.

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