Windows 10 display detect settingsSource: Windows Central

On Windows 10, connecting a second monitor is a convenient way to expand the canvas to work with multiple apps, edit videos, and even play games on your desktop computer or laptop.

Although setting up an external display is usually a straightforward process, sometimes, Windows 10 may not detect the second monitor due to outdated drivers or hardware-related problems. However, if you happen to be dealing with this problem, you can use several troubleshooting steps (such as checking the connection and installing the correct drivers) to fix the issue in no time.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to troubleshoot and resolve issues, causing a second monitor not getting detected automatically on your device.

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How to fix external monitor connection issues using hardware troubleshooting

Usually, if the system is not detecting the second external monitor, the problem is likely related to software, but there are also chances that the problem lies in the physical connection.

In the case that the external monitor doesn't appear in the Windows 10 settings, you should try these troubleshooting steps before modifying system settings:

  • Confirm the monitor is correctly connected to a power source, and it's turned on.
  • Restart the computer to re-establish the connection.
  • Use the built-in controls on the monitor and make sure the correct input is selected.
  • Check the signal cable connection between the monitor and device's graphics card.
  • Disconnect the signal cable from both ends, wait about a minute, and reconnect it.
  • Use a different signal cable to confirm the problem is a broken connector or bad cable.
  • DisplayPort and HDMI come in different versions, so make sure to use the correct cable. (Check manufacturer for details).
  • Switch ports if the monitor and graphics card include multiple ports.
  • Connect the monitor to another computer to determine if it's not a problem with the monitor.
  • Connect another known working monitor to determine if the issue isn't the graphics card.
  • Disconnect all peripherals (such as printers, cameras, USB devices, etc.) to confirm that none of the other devices are conflicting with the display.
  • If you're using a Surface Pro 7 with a dock station, disconnect it, and try to connect the monitor straight to the tablet to confirm whether the problem is the Surface Dock.
  • If applicable, update the display firmware as it may help to fix bugs and compatibility issues. (Check manufacturer for details).

After trying the basic troubleshooting steps outlined above, if nothing seems to fix the second monitor, you can start troubleshooting for software related problems.

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How to fix external monitor connection issues using Settings

After you confirm that the problem isn't physical, use the Settings app to force the system to detect the second monitor.

Force second display detection

To detect a second monitor manually on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Display.
  4. Under the "Rearrange your displays" section, click the Detect button in the bottom-right corner (if applicable).

    Windows 10 detect second monitorSource: Windows Central

    Quick note: This option is only available when connecting an additional display. If you have only one monitor, the setting will not be present.

Once you complete the steps, Windows 10 should now detect the external monitor. You can then configure that with a specific resolution, scale, and orientation as needed using the Display settings.

Connect wireless external display

To connect a wireless display as a secondary screen to Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Devices.
  3. Click on Bluetooth & other devices.
  4. Click the Add Bluetooth & other devices button.

    Bluetooth & other device settingsSource: Windows Central

  5. Select the Wireless display or dock option.

    Bluetooth detection on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

  6. Confirm the wireless display is turned on and discoverable (refer to device manual).
  7. Select the display from the list.
  8. Continue with the on-screen directions.

After you complete the steps, the wireless monitor should now be detected as a new external display on your computer.

How to fix external monitor connection issues using latest graphics driver

On Windows 10, buggy, outdated, or damaged graphics drivers can prevent the second monitor's detection. If this is the case, the easiest way to resolve this problem is to update, reinstall, or downgrade the graphics driver to fix the connection between the external monitor and device.

Update graphics driver

To update the graphics card driver using Windows Update to fix the second monitor detection problem, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Windows Update.
  4. Click the View optional updates option.

    Windows 10 Optional Updates OptionSource: Windows Central

  5. Click on Driver updates to expand the category.
  6. Select the driver you want to install.

    Windows 10 driver optional updateSource: Windows Central

  7. Click the Download and install button.

Once you complete the steps, Windows Update will download and install the device driver allowing the monitor to get detected.

If the optional updates option isn't available, then Windows Update doesn't have a newer driver. In that case, you may want to check the manufacturer support website download and install a more recent version (if available).

Reinstall graphics driver

To reinstall a damaged video driver on Windows 10, 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.

    Device Manager uninstall driverSource: Windows Central

  5. Clear the Delete the driver software from this device option (if applicable).
  6. Click the Uninstall button.

    Device Manager delete driver optionSource: Windows Central

  7. Restart computer.
  8. Open Device Manager again.
  9. Right-click the computer name and select the Scan for hardware changes option.

    Device Manager scan for new devices optionSource: Windows Central

After you complete the steps, Windows 10 will reinstall the graphics driver automatically during startup, but it's a good idea to use the steps to ensure the driver installs correctly.

Rollback graphics driver

If the device recently received an updated version of the driver, and now, Windows 10 can't detect the second monitor, you can rollback to the previous driver to resolve the issue.

To remove and reinstall an older version of a graphics driver on Windows 10, 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 select the Properties option.

    Device Manager device properties optionSource: Windows Central

  5. Click the Driver tab.
  6. Click the Roll Back Driver button.

    Device Manager driver rollback optionSource: Windows Central

    Quick tip: If the option isn't available, it's not possible to rollback the driver to a previous version. However, you might still be able to use an older version if it's available from the device manufacturer's support website.

  7. Select an option to answer the question.
  8. Click the Yes button.

    Driver rollback settingsSource: Windows Central

  9. Restart your computer.

Once you complete the steps, Windows 10 should detect and start displaying content on the external monitor.

Update graphics driver with manufacturer control panel

Windows Update can download and install drivers for most graphics cards, but the packages available are not always the most recent versions. If you want the absolute latest driver for your card, manufacturers like NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel provide software that allows you to quickly download and install the latest updates, which may help fix issues with the external display.

If you choose to use the manufacturer control panel, the installation is straightforward. You only need to download and double-click the installer using the above links, and continue with the on-screen directions to complete the installation and then check for updates.

Alternatively, you can download and install the graphics drivers directly from the manufacturer's support website using their instructions.

If you don't know which graphics card and version of the driver is installed on your device, 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. See the Adapter Type and Driver Version information to determine the card model and current version of the driver.

    System Information graphics informationSource: Windows Central

Once you understand the card information, you can use the above links to find, download, and install the correct driver for your device.

One of the best graphics cards you can get is the ZOTAC Gaming RTX 2060 because of its excellent performance and ports to connect multiple monitors.

Multi-monitor support

ZOTAC Gaming RTX 2060

The RTX 2060 offers multi-monitor support

If you need to replace your graphics, the RTX 2060 is a great option. Not only the card offers excellent performance for gaming and workloads, but it also includes multiple DisplayPort and HDMI ports perfect for multi-monitor setups.

Finally, consider that manufacturers (such as Dell, HP, Razer, Acer, and Microsoft) can modify the original drivers to optimize them for their devices. This means that when dealing with a branded computer (also known as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) computer), you should always consider using the graphics driver available through the manufacturer before trying those available through the video card company to minimize the chances of running into issues.

More Windows 10 resources

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

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