How to connect a monitor to a computer

Updated: 02/27/2019 by Computer Hope

To use a desktop computer, users need a monitor. The monitor allows you to see the operating system GUI and software applications, like playing a game or typing a document.

Note

If you are connecting a monitor to a laptop computer, see our page on how to connect an external monitor to my laptop for help.

There are two types of flat-panel displays available: LCD, and LED. These monitors are very similar and will use a VGA, DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort, or USB-C connector to connect to the computer. VGA and DVI are older connections, whereas HDMI, DisplayPort, and especially USB-C are newer.

How to connect a monitor

  1. Find the monitor's connector cable. It should be included with your purchase.
  2. Match the cable with one of the video ports located on the back of the monitor. The images below show each of the video ports used today (with the general exception of S-Video).

New video port connections.

Older video port connectors.

  1. Plug the cable into the corresponding ports on both your monitor and computer.
Note

The VGA and DVI cables have two screws, one on either side of the connector. Make sure the cable screws line up and then alternate turning each screw until they are secure.

Tip

If your monitor does not have the same connector as your computer, or you'd prefer a different interface, you have a few options:

  • You can buy a different cable that is compatible with your computer and monitor.
  • You can purchase a video converter that which changes one connector type into another.
  • Purchase a new video card or computer with the latest connectors.
  • Purchase a monitor that has the connectors you need.
  1. If you haven't already done it, plug the flat end of the monitor power cord (shown on the left in the picture below) into the back of the monitor. The power cord may also be built into the back of the monitor.

Monitor power cord

  1. Plug the other end of the monitor power cord (shown on the right in the picture above) into a power outlet.
  2. Turn on the computer and turn on the monitor. The power button for the button is often found on the front or bottom of the monitor on the right side.
Tip

If you have a monitor with different connectors, you may need to switch the input type to the type of connector you're using with the buttons next to the power button.

Note

If you run into trouble getting the monitor to work, see our page for no display or black screen on a computer monitor to troubleshoot the issue.