Output device

Updated: 09/12/2023 by Computer Hope
Printer output device

An output device is any peripheral that receives data from a computer, usually for display, projection, or physical reproduction. For example, the image shows an inkjet printer, an output device that make a hard copy of anything shown on the monitor. Monitors and printers are two of the most commonly used output devices used with a computer.

Types of output devices

Computer monitor and output device

The following list contains many different examples of output devices. For further information about the output device, select any of the listings with blue text.


Drives such as a CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory), DVD (digital versatile disc), floppy diskette drive, and USB (universal serial bus) flash drive are considered storage devices.

What are the output devices of my computer?

Every computer has a monitor, an audio adapter, and an onboard or discrete GPU (graphics processing unit). Each of these is an output device. A printer is also very commonly used with computers. Depending on the type of computer and how the computer is used, other output devices may be used with a computer. The best method of determining all of the output devices your computer has is to go through the list above.

Why do computers need output devices?

A computer can still work without an output device. However, you'd have no way of determining what the computer is doing. Using an output device, you can view and get the results of input from a computer.

How does an output device work?

An output device works by receiving a signal from the computer and using that signal to perform a task to display the output. For example, below is a basic list of the steps of how an output device works.

  1. On a computer keyboard (input device), if you type "H", it sends (inputs) a signal to the computer.
  2. The computer processes the input and once completed, sends a signal to a monitor (output device).
  3. The monitor receives the signal and displays (outputs) the "H" to the screen.
  4. If supported, that "H" could also be printed (outputed) to a printer, which is another example of an output device.

If no output device was connected to the computer and it was functional, you could still type "H" on the keyboard, and it would still be processed. However, you'd be unable to see what happened or confirm the input with no output device.


An output device does not send anything back to the computer. So, in the case of the monitor, a computer sends a signal without knowing if it was received. If an output device sends information back to the computer, it's considered an input/output device.

Hardware terms, Input, Input device, Input/output device, Output, Printer terms, Video terms