How to Connect a Projector to a DVD/CD on a Laptop Computer

By Jeff Grundy

A media file stored on a CD or DVD can be played through a computer and a projector.
i Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images

Many business users connect their laptops to projectors to display PowerPoint presentations. However, you can use the big screen area provided by a projector for much more than slideshows. By connecting your laptop to a projector, you can view virtually any type of content from the notebook screen in a much larger format. This applies to not only PowerPoint slideshows, but photos, business reports in Excel and other application windows as well. If you have media on a CD or DVD disc that you want to view -- say, for instance, a movie -- making the connections and setting up Windows to display the media on the projector screen is relatively simple.

Shut down the laptop and power off the projector.

Connect the video cable to the video-in port on the projector, and then connect the other end to the external monitor port on the laptop. The type of video cable you need to use depends on the type of video ports on the laptop and projector. The three most common video interfaces are DVI, HDMI and VGA. Older notebook computers and projectors may have only VGA (analog) ports; newer models usually include DVI or HDMI connectors (both digital). DVI ports usually have a white face, VGA ports are usually blue, and HDMI ports appear similar to large USB ports.

Turn on the power to the projector first, then the laptop.

On the laptop, log in to Windows. Provide your administrator username and password if required.

After the Windows Desktop loads on the notebook, the display from the laptop LCD should appear on the projector screen automatically. If the image from the laptop does not appear on the projector screen automatically, press the appropriate function keys on the notebook keyboard to toggle the display. This can vary from one laptop to another, but typically involves pressing the function ("Fn") key and the "F" key ("F" followed by a number) imprinted with an icon representing two computer monitors. For example, on Dell laptops pressing "Fn-F8" toggles the display between the notebook and an external display, so pressing "Fn-F8" once displays the computer image on the projector only and pressing "Fn-F8" a second time displays the image only on the laptop screen. If you press "Fn-F8" a third time, the display appears on both the laptop and the projector.

Press the "Windows-P" keys to launch the Display Switcher pop-up window. Click the "Extend" option in the Display Switcher window to display a blank Windows Desktop screen on the projector display.

Insert the disc containing the media you want to view on the projector screen into the optical drive of your computer.

Click Start (Windows icon) and select "Computer" to open Windows Explorer.

Double-click the drive letter for the CD/DVD drive in your computer. Browse to locate the media file you want to view on the projector and double-click the file to open it. The default application for that file type should open the file. For example, if you click a video file, the clip might open and play in Windows Media Player unless you have installed and chosen a different application as the default player for that type of movie file.

Click the "Pause" button in the media application if the slideshow or video starts automatically.

Press the "Shift," "Windows" and right-arrow keys all at the same time. The media application switches from the laptop LCD screen to the projector display.

Click the "Play" button to begin viewing the media file from the CD or DVD on the projector screen.