How to fix external display not working on Windows 11

Windows 11 fix external monitor
Windows 11 fix external monitor (Image credit: Windows Central)

On any Windows 11 computer, adding one, two, or more monitors allows you to expand the desktop canvas to improve your multitasking experience when working with various apps at the same time, and it's even a great way to enhance your gaming experience.

Regardless of the case, setting up an external display is typically easy. However, sometimes, you may run into the issue where the operating system can't detect a second or third monitor as a result of hardware or driver problems. If you experience any problems connecting an external monitor, there are many things you can try to troubleshoot and resolve this issue without calling technical support.

This how-to guide will walk you through the steps to fix problems that may be preventing your computer from detecting an external monitor.

How to fix external display issues using hardware troubleshooting

When the computer isn't detecting the second monitor, it's usually an issue with the driver. However, it might also be a physical connection problem.

You can try these troubleshooting tips to start with before tampering with the system settings:

  • Check whether the monitor is plugged into a power source.
  • Check whether the display is turned on.
  • Power off the computer and restart it to refresh the connection.
  • Confirm the signal cable connection between the device and the display.
  • Find the display controls and switch to the correct input port.
  • Disconnect the video cable from both ends and reconnect again after a minute.
  • Connect a different video cable to discard a problem with the cable.
  • Change ports if the monitor and graphics card have different ports.
  • DisplayPort and HDMI cables have different variations. Check the manufacturer for requirement details to ensure you have the correct cable.
  • Connect the monitor to another computer to confirm whether the issue is with the monitor.
  • Connect another known working display to determine the issue isn't the graphics card.
  • Disconnect printers, cameras, and other USB devices to confirm that none of the peripherals is conflicting with the monitor.
  • Update the external monitor firmware to help fix bugs and compatibility issues (uncommon).

After trying the above troubleshooting steps, if you still have issues, the problem may be software-related.

How to fix display connection issues using Settings

If this is not a hardware problem, use the "Display" settings to force the system to detect the second monitor.

Force external monitor detection

To detect an external monitor manually on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click the Display page on the right side.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Multiple displays setting.
  2. Click the Detect button.

(Image credit: Future)

Once you complete the steps, Windows 11 should detect the external display.

The option will not be present if you have only one monitor since it's only available when connecting multiple displays. This option would only apply to setups with more than two monitors.

Connect wireless external display

To connect a wireless display on Windows 11 as a secondary screen, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Bluetooth & devices.
  3. Turn on the Bluetooth toggle switch (if applicable).
  4. Click the Add device button.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Select the "Wireless display or dock" option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Confirm the wireless display is turned on and discoverable (refer to device documentation).
  2. Select the display (wireless monitor, TV, or PC with Miracast support) from the list.
  3. Continue with the on-screen directions (if applicable).

After you complete the steps, the wireless display will be detected as a new external display on the device.

How to fix external display connection issues using latest graphics drivers

An outdated, buggy, or damaged graphics driver can cause problems preventing the device from setting up a second monitor. You can quickly resolve this problem by updating, reinstalling, or downgrading the driver to fix the connection issue.

Update graphics driver

To update the graphics driver, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Windows Update.
  3. Click the Advanced options page on the right side.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Under the "Additional options" section, click the Optional updates option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Select the newer graphics driver to install on Windows 11.
  2. Click the "Download & install" button.

(Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once you complete the steps, Windows Update will download and install the graphics driver, fixing the external monitor's detection problem.

Windows Update does not have driver updates if the "Optional updates" page is empty. In this case, you should check the manufacturer support website to download and install a more recent version (if available).

Reinstall graphics driver

To reinstall a damaged video driver on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Double-click to expand the Display adapters branch.
  4. Right-click the adapter and select the Uninstall device option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Clear the "Delete the driver software from this device" option (if applicable).
  2. Click the Uninstall button.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. Open Device Manager again.
  • Quick note: The system should detect the monitor again automatically. If not, use Device Manager to scan for hardware changes to force Windows 11 to reinstall the monitor.
  1. Right-click the computer name and select the "Scan for hardware changes" option.

(Image credit: Future)

After you complete the steps, Windows 11 should detect and reinstall the driver automatically. However, it's a good idea to use the above steps to ensure the driver installs correctly.

Roll back graphics driver

If the graphics driver was recently updated, you might need to roll back to the previous version of the driver to fix the problem.

To reinstall an older version of a graphics driver on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Double-click to expand the Display adapters branch.
  4. Right-click the graphics adapter, and choose the Properties option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Driver tab.
  2. Click the Roll Back Driver button.
  • Quick tip: If the option is not available, it's not possible to roll back the driver. However, you could download an older version of the driver from the manufacturer's support website and install an older version.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Select an option to answer the question.
  2. Click the Yes button.
  3. Restart the computer.

Once you complete the steps, the external monitor should work as expected.

Update driver with manufacturer software

Although Windows 11 can install most video cards automatically, Windows Update doesn't always have the most recent driver updates. If you must install the latest driver to resolve connection problems with a monitor, companies like Intel, NVIDIA, and AMD provide tools to update drivers quickly.

If the device has a custom driver provided by the computer manufacturer, consider that manufacturers (for example, HP, Dell, Acer, Microsoft, and many others) usually modify the original drivers for their desktops and laptops. This means if you have a branded computer, also known as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) computer, with a custom graphics card driver, you may lose any custom configurations made by the manufacturer.

The installation of the tool is straightforward. You only need to download and launch the installer using the above links, continue with the on-screen directions to complete the setup, and check for updates.

Using their instructions, you can also download the drivers directly from the manufacturer's support website. You can use the links below to find the drivers:

To check the adapter driver version and manufacturer available on your computer, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for System Information and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Double-click to expand the Components branch on the left pane.
  4. Select the Display category.
  5. Confirm the Adapter Type and Driver Version information to determine the driver's card model and current version.

(Image credit: Future)

Once you complete the steps, use the above links to find, download, and install the correct driver.

More resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.