My Laptop's Monitor Won't Show on a Projector

By Steve Lander

First, make sure that the cables are connected.
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Part of doing business presentations on the road is using different types of equipment. While it's nice to be able to use your own projector and laptop, when you end up in a place that has special projection needs that your equipment can't handle or one that has a preinstalled projector, you're going to have to use what's available. When you do this, many things can go wrong.

Power and Cable

When your laptop's display isn't being projected, the first things to check are the most basic ones. Many projectors require you to hold the "Power" button down for a little while to turn them on. Others have relatively quick auto-shut-off functions that turn them off between the time you turn them on and the time that you get your laptop computer in place, connected and ready to check. Cables can also shake loose, especially if you're using a large and heavy 15-pin VGA, or Video Graphics Adapter, cable that doesn't have thumbscrews to hold it in place.

Projector Source Setting

Most projectors have multiple inputs, and if the one you're using isn't selected, your image won't show up. If you're using HDMI, check to make sure not just that the projector is using HDMI as a source, but also that it is using the HDMI port to which your laptop is connected. VGA connections may be labeled "VGA," "DB-15," "Computer" or "Data." Typically, you either press the button for your connection, or a button marked "Input" or "Source" on the projector or its remote to cycle through the inputs until the right one is selected.

Laptop Video Output

You may need to turn on your laptop's video output by pressing a special key combination. The combination varies depending on the manufacturer of your computer, but you generally hold down the "Fn" key while pressing one of the numbered "F" keys on or near your keyboard's top row. The correct "F" key for your computer may have a text marking like "LCD/VGA" or "LCD/CRT," or may have an icon of a monitor or a computer and a monitor. The port also may not turn on until you boot into the operating system.


If these steps don't fix the issue, you may have a more serious problem. If possible, troubleshoot the problem by connecting your laptop to a monitor or other projector. If it works, you can assume that the projector is the issue. On the other hand, if the projector works fine with a different computer, your laptop may be the problem. Once you know where the problem is occurring, contact technical support for further assistance.