Windows

How to fix the external display not working on Windows 11

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External display settings

Adding one, two, or more monitors to a PC enables you to extend the desktop canvas to boost multitasking while working with many programs at the same time, and it’s also a good way to improve your gaming experience. In most cases, setting up an external monitor is straightforward. But there are times when Windows 11 won’t recognize a second or third monitor because of a problem with the hardware or a driver. If you are having issues connecting an external monitor, there are many things you can do to diagnose and fix the problem without asking for technical assistance.

For more on Windows and Windows device set up read: How to Add a Device to your Microsoft account, Add Hardware and Peripherals: How to add a device to a Windows 10 Computer,  how to remove a Bluetooth device and connect a new Bluetooth device to Macbook, Microsoft Phone Link: How to Link and Unlink an Android Phone to Windows 11. To install and activate Microsoft office see How to install and activate Office 2019 on your Mac PC.

In this Windows 11 guide, I’ll show you how to fix problems that may be keeping your computer from recognizing an external display.

Method 1: Fix external display issues using hardware troubleshooting

When the computer fails to identify the second monitor, it is usually due to a driver problem. It might, however, be a physical connection issue.

Before tampering with the system settings, consider the following troubleshooting tips:

  • Make sure the monitor is connected to a power source.
  • Make sure the display is switched on.
  • Turn off and restart the computer to renew the connection.
  • Double-check the computer-monitor signal cable connection.
  • Locate the display controls and choose the appropriate input port.
  • After a minute, disconnect the video wire from both ends and reconnect it.
  • Connect a separate video cable to rule out a cable issue.
  • If the display and graphics card have distinct ports, switch between them.
  • DisplayPort and HDMI cables come in a variety of lengths. Check the manufacturer’s specifications to verify you have the right cable.
  • Connect the monitor to another device to see whether the problem is with the monitor.
  • Connect another known functional monitor to ensure the problem isn’t with the graphics card.
  • Unplug printers, cameras, and other USB devices to ensure that none of the peripherals are interfering with the display.
  • Update the firmware on the external monitor to aid with bug fixes and compatibility concerns (uncommon).

If you still have problems after doing the preceding troubleshooting methods, the issue may be software related.

Method 2: How to fix display connection issues via Settings

If the problem isn’t with the hardware, you can force the system to find the second monitor by changing how the display is set up.

Force external monitor detection or connect wireless to an external display

Press the Windows key + I together to open Settings and click on System. Select Display on the right side.

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Windows Settings

Under the Display settings, click Multiple displays and hit the Detect button. Windows should now detect the external display.

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System display settings

You can also connect wirelessly to an external display. You can click on “Connect to a wireless display under the Multiple displays option.” Or click on “Bluetooth & devices” and click on “Add device” as shown below.

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Bluetooth & devices

Select the display (wireless monitor, TV, or PC with Miracast support) from the list. Proceed with the on-screen directions.

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Add a wireless device

When you’re done with the steps, the device will see the wireless display as a new external display.

Method 3: How to fix external display connection issues using the latest graphics drivers

An outdated, buggy or damaged graphics driver can cause problems that prevent the device from setting up a second monitor. You can quickly fix this problem by updating, reinstalling, or downgrading the driver.

Update graphics driver

To update the graphics driver, use these steps:

Press Windows key + I to open Settings and click on Windows Update. Select the Advanced options on the right side.

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Windows updates settings

Under the “Additional options” section, click the Optional updates option.

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Windows optional updates

Select the newer graphics driver to install and click the Download & install button.

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Install optional updates

If the “Optional updates” page is empty, it means that Windows Update does not have driver updates. In this case, you should check the manufacturer’s support website to download and install a more recent version if one is available.

Reinstall graphics driver

To reinstall a damaged video driver on Windows 11, use these steps:

Press the Windows + S keyboard shortcut to open the search bar, type Device Manager, and choose Open or click Enter.

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Windows search bar

Double-click to expand the Display adapters section, right-click the adapter and select the Uninstall device option.

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Device manager

Click the Uninstall button and restart your computer.

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Uninstall Device

After the system restart, the system should detect the monitor automatically if not, open the Device Manager and scan for hardware changes so that the system can automatically reinstall the monitor driver.

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Scan for hardware changes

After you complete the steps, Windows 11 should detect and reinstall the driver automatically. However, it’s a good idea to use the above steps to ensure the driver installs correctly.

Roll back graphics driver

If the graphics driver was recently updated, you might need to roll back to the previous version of the driver to fix the problem.

To reinstall an older version of a graphics driver on Windows 11, use these steps:

Open the Device Manager and double-click on the Display adapter to view its drivers. Right-click the graphics adapter and choose the Properties option.

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Device manager

Select the Driver tab, click the Roll Back Driver button. If the option is not available, it’s not possible to roll back the driver. However, you can download an older version of the driver from the manufacturer’s support website and install an older version.

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Driver properties

Proceed with the process and restart your computer after rolling back the driver. Once you complete the steps, the external monitor should work as expected.

Update driver with manufacturer software

Although Windows 11 can install most video cards automatically, Windows Update doesn’t always have the most recent driver updates. In the event that you have to install the latest driver to resolve connection problems with a monitor, companies like Intel, NVIDIA, and AMD provide tools to update drivers quickly.

If the computer manufacturer made a custom driver for the device, keep in mind that companies like HP, Dell, Acer, Microsoft, and many others often change the original drivers for their desktops and laptops. This means if you have a branded computer, also known as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) computer, that has a custom graphics card driver, you may lose any custom configurations made by the manufacturer.

The installation of the drivers is easy. You can download the drivers directly from the manufacturer’s support website using their instructions and continue with the on-screen directions to complete the setup, and check for updates.

Press the Windows + S keyboard shortcut to open the search bar, search for System Information and click the top result to open the app.

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Windows search bar

Double-click to expand the Components category and select Display from the drop-down menu.

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System information page

Confirm the Adapter Type and Driver Version information to determine the driver’s card model and current version.

Once you’re done with the steps, you’ll need to look for the right driver for your system so you can download and install it.

I hope you find this guide helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

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