Can you use your laptop as a monitor? The simple answer is: NO, you cannot use your laptop as a monitor DIRECTLY. However, indirectly, there are a few methods than you can use.
Laptops were initially designed to be operated as stand-alone devices, hence, it cannot act as a monitor unless you perform some technical approaches to enable it to serve as one. Stand-alone devices are those systems that do not need to be connected to other devices to perform their desired functions.
The laptop’s Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) may contain two or three outputs, where one is linked to the built-in screen and the others are the outputs for any external monitor.
Generally, laptops do not have the input ports for display BUT one can devise mechanisms that will make a laptop to act as a monitor. Laptops only provide output ports where cables can be plugged to external monitors, and therefore, you need to apply a bit of technical skills to be able to use your laptop as a monitor.
These approaches may affect the quality of output and therefore they are only used for specific purposes that do not last for longer periods of time.
Four Ways to Use Your Laptop as a Monitor
There are four major workarounds, that include:
- Use laptop as remote desktop
- Use Windows MiraCast feature
- Install Third-party applications
- Altering the internal electronics of laptop
1. Remote Connection
This is the most popular method of making use of laptop as a monitor. This method requires network connection and configuration so that it can be successful.
Some applications such as Teamviewer have been developed and is widely used for such purpose.
If you would like to use Teamviewer software, you need to install it on both the laptop that is to be used as monitor and the desktop which is the source of display. Launch the application on both devices and type the Teamviewer ID of the desktop into the partner ID field of laptop’s Teamviewer and click connect.
You will then be prompted to provide your desktop’s password to establish connection. The application gives control to access the desktop from the laptop.
The application also provides secure end to end connection. The advantage of this application is that different versions of the software have been developed to serve on different machines.
2. Windows Miracast Feature
Miracast technology is a secure, easy and quick to set up feature that uses wireless connection to connect devices. This feature has replaced the use of cable to connect devices to external monitors.
In today’s computers, Miracast is a built-in standard and it was initially provided in Windows 8.1. It allows users to easily establish connection from computer to display devices and send high quality audio and video.
Like the TeamViewer, you will need to have Miracast on both your laptop and your second PC that will be casting the display to the laptop monitor.
If you would like to check if your device supports Miracast, click Windows key+R, type ‘dxdiag’ and press Enter.
On the Window that appears, look for the word ‘Miracast’. Next to the word will be status information to show whether it is available or not.
Some factors such as graphics device compatibility may limit the use of Miracast in different devices. Besides, you need to establish wireless connection between the desktop and the laptop so as to utilize the laptop as monitor.
The video below show casting from laptop to a MiraCast enabled TV. You can use the same principle while outputting videos to laptop display.
3. Use of Third-party Programs
If Miracast does not work for you, you can opt to download third-party software applications such as Space Desk.
Its advantage is that unlike the Miracast, it is not limited to compatibility issues. The software should be installed on both the desktop and the laptop and they should be connected in a local network that supports TCP/IP network protocol.
The desktop runs Space Desk driver software while laptop runs Space Desk viewer program. The driver software includes display drivers and network display server program to allow duplication of desktop to another screen while the viewer program functions as secondary display.
The connection may be wireless or through a cable, such as USB tethering (in case it is a phone) or Ethernet cable. It is highly recommended to uninstall any Space Desk program before installing a new version.
Also, you should update the firewall settings of your Windows to allow the spacedeskService.ext program to run on both public and private network. Space Desk is not only used in laptops and desktops, but also on mobile phone devices that are built on Android and IOS.
4. Re-purposing Broken or Old Laptop
This is the last resort just in case you need to repurpose an old or broken laptop. It is not a recommended option if your laptop is not broken or old.
The major limitation with this approach is that it may affect the hardware if not done well. You need a lot of technical skills to alter the internal details of the laptop to use it as monitor.
Basically, you need to open up the laptop, disconnect the LCD cable from motherboard and connect to adapter. Besides, you need to ensure that there is a power source to the display panel.