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How to fix second monitor not detected on Windows 10

Windows 10 second monitor detect settings
Windows 10 second monitor detect settings (Image credit: Windows Central)

On Windows 10, connecting a second monitor helps you expand the desktop canvas to work with multiple apps and play games on your laptop or desktop computer.

Although setting up an external display is usually a straightforward process, sometimes, Windows 10 may not detect older displays or second monitors due to drivers or hardware-related issues. However, if your computer has a problem, you can use several troubleshooting steps (including checking the connection and installing the correct drivers) to fix the issue in no time.

In this Windows 10 guide, we will walk you through three practical ways to troubleshoot and fix issues that may be blocking the system from detecting the second monitor automatically.

How to fix external monitor connection issues via hardware troubleshooting

When your computer does not detect the second external display, it could be a problem with the software, but it might also be an issue with the physical connection or the monitor itself.

If the monitor does not show up in the settings, use these steps before messing around with the configuration settings on Windows 10:

  • Confirm the monitor is connected to a power source.
  • Confirm the monitor is turned on.
  • Turn the computer off and on to refresh the connection.
  • Use the monitor's built-in controls and select the correct input port.
  • Check the signal cable connection between the monitor and the graphics card.
  • Disconnect the signal cable from both ends, wait 60 seconds, and firmly reconnect it.
  • Change the signal cable to confirm you are not dealing with a bad cable.
  • DisplayPort and HDMI come in different versions, so check the manufacturer for requirement details to ensure you have the correct cable.
  • Change ports if the monitor and graphics card feature multiple ports.
  • Connect the monitor to another computer to see whether the problem is with the external display.
  • Connect another known working monitor to determine that the issue is not the graphics card.
  • Disconnect all peripherals (such as printers, cameras, and USB devices) to confirm none of the other devices are conflicting with the display.
  • If you have a Surface Pro 8 connected to a dock station, disconnect it and try to connect the monitor directly to the computer to confirm the problem is not the dock.
  • Update the external monitor firmware to help fix bugs and compatibility issues (uncommon).

If the basic troubleshooting steps outlined above do not fix the second monitor, it could be a software-related problem, which you may be able to fix with the steps below.

In the event that the problem is the monitor or you are in the market for a new one, the HP Z27 is our top pick right now. In our best 4K monitor roundup, you can find more choices.

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How to fix external monitor connection issues via Settings

After determining that there isn't a physical problem with the connection, monitor, or computer, you can 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 "Multiple displays" section, click the Detect button to connect to the external monitor.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. (Optional) Under the "Rearrange your displays" section, click the Detect button in the bottom-right corner (if applicable). Quick note: If you have only one monitor, the option will not be present since it's only available when connecting multiple displays.

Once you complete the steps, Windows 10 should detect the external monitor connected to the computer.

Connect wireless external display

To connect a wireless display on Windows 10 as a secondary screen on your computer, use these steps:

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

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select the Wireless display or dock option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Confirm the wireless display is 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.

How to fix external monitor connection issues via latest graphics drivers

A buggy, outdated, or corrupted graphics driver can cause problems that may prevent Windows 10 from detecting a second monitor automatically. The easiest method to fix this issue is updating, reinstalling, or downgrading the driver.

Update graphics driver

To update the graphics card driver through Windows Update, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Windows Update.
  4. Click the View optional updates option. Quick tip: If the option is not available, Windows Update does not have a newer driver available.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select the Driver updates setting.
  2. Check the graphics driver to update on Windows 10.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Download and install button.

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

If Windows Update does not have a newer driver version, check the manufacturer support website to download and install a more recent version (if available).

Reinstall graphics driver

To reinstall a corrupted 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.

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

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. Open Device Manager again. Quick note: The system should detect the monitor again automatically. If it's not the case, you can scan for changes manually to reinstall the display.
  3. Right-click the computer name and select the Scan for hardware changes option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

After you complete the steps, Windows 10 will reinstall the driver automatically. However, it's good to use the above steps to ensure the driver installs correctly.

Rollback graphics driver

If the computer was recently updated or the graphics driver was recently upgraded manually, and Windows 10 cannot detect the second monitor, rolling back to the previous version of the driver may 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.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Driver tab.
  2. Click the Roll Back Driver button. Quick tip: If the option is not available, you cannot use this rollback process. However, you might still be able to use an older version from the device manufacturer's support website (if available).

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select an option to answer the question.
  2. Click the Yes button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Restart the device.

Once you complete the steps, Windows 10 should start rendering content on the external monitor.

Update graphics driver with manufacturer control panel

Windows 10 can automatically set up drivers for most graphics adapters, but the drivers available through Windows Update are not typically the more recent. If you have to install the latest driver, companies like NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel offer tools to quickly install the latest updates that may help to fix external display problems.

Check out these links to download the drivers, depending on your manufacturer:

If you want to use the manufacturer's control panel application, the installation is simple. You only need to download and double-click the installer using the above links, continue with the on-screen directions to complete the setup, and check for updates.

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

Check manufacturer and driver version

To check the graphics card vendor and driver version on Windows 10, 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.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

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

One of the best graphics cards you can get at this time is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 because of its excellent performance and ports to connect multiple monitors. You can also check our roundup of the best graphics cards to find other cards that may fit your budget.

Finally, consider that manufacturers (for example, Dell, HP, Razer, Acer, and Microsoft) usually change the original drivers to optimize their computers. As a result, if you have a branded computer (also known as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) computer), you should always think about using the graphics driver available through the device manufacturer before trying those available through the graphics card manufacturer to avoid problems.

More Windows resources

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