How to Configure a Dual-Display Setup

In many classrooms, the most effective technology setup involves connecting a teaching computer to a second projectable surface or screen. This creates a “Dual-Display” environment which allows the teacher to maintain one display for teaching notes and one for child-facing content. 

If you have access to a teaching computer and one or more projectable surfaces or mobile devices, you can likely configure a Dual-Display in a few simple steps! In general, those steps are:

  1. Utilize the proper cabling between the two devices
  2. Adjust the display preferences on your device(s) to enable monitor extension
  3. Drag and drop the Child-Facing content to the second display when ready for students, and having your device handle the behind-the-scenes content!

Follow the prompts below to find specific instructions for your display configuration.

Step 1: Determine what type of cabling/adapter you’ll need to connect your two devices.

Most modern computers and monitors, be it PC, Mac, or Chromebook, come equipped with at least one HDMI port or DisplayPort/mini DisplayPort. Certain devices will also support USB-C A/V transfer, but the aforementioned are much more common.  This method will definitely be the easiest to connect to your secondary display, as it will also carry audio along with the video. Less wires = Less hassle!   

If your computer is a bit older, you will want to be on the lookout for a VGA or DVI port.  While your secondary display may not come equipped with this type of port, there are third-party adapters that will allow you to connect your devices.

Failing these, it’s possible that S-Video is the port that your setup might utilize. This is likely the minimum type of connection you’d want to transmit video from one source to another, but it is still usable!

Step 2: Adjust your primary computer’s display settings for dual display.

Once you’ve figured out which cables and adapters you need to proceed, you’ll need to set up your computer to output the right display properties!  This varies slightly based on your operating system, but the following guidelines should point you in the right direction.

Select your operating system for step-by-step instructions:

Windows

  1. Display Settings → Multiple Displays
  2. Select “Extend these displays”
  3. Then at top, rearrange the displays as you’d like
  4. Using 2 as the student-facing display, you are now able to drag content over!
  5. For more information visit Windows documentation

Mac

  1. Make sure that your external display is turned on and connected to your Mac.
  2. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Displays.
  3. Click the Arrangement tab.
  4. Make sure that the Mirror Displays checkbox isn’t selected.
  5. For more information visit Apple documentation

Step 3: Arrange your displays or change your primary display

So that you can move apps and windows across your displays in one continuous motion, arrange your displays to match the setup on your desk. You can also change your primary display, which is where your desktop icons and app windows first appear. 

Mac

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Displays.
  2. Click the Arrangement tab.
  3. To change the position of a display, drag it to the desired position. A red border appears around the display as it’s moved.
  4. To set a different display as the primary display, drag the menu bar to the other display

Chromebook

  1. Click the time at the bottom-right of your screen, and then click the gear icon that pops up in the system tray to access your device’s Settings menu.
  2. Once inside the Displays menu, choose from one of the following options to make the specified changes:
  • Display size: Pick a screen resolution. Modify the width and height (in pixels) that your Chromebook monitor or external display renders.
  • Orientation: Change the default setting by choosing a different screen orientation.
  • TV alignment: Adjust the alignment of an externally connected television or monitor. This setting is only available when connected to a compatible device.
  • Options: This section contains two options: Start mirroring and Make primary. If another device is available, clicking Start mirroring will immediately begin showing your Chromebook display on that other device. Clicking Make primary will designate the currently selected device as the primary display for your Chromebook.