How to Connect a Computer to a Projector

By Christopher Capelle

  • Overview

    Connecting a projector to a computer is a now-common practice in the business world, as well as for the home user. While there are a huge number of computer/projector permutations out there, there are common threads that will allow virtually any computer to work with any projector. Having everything set and ready to go will avoid a last-minute rush at an important presentation, something that could make you look bad.
    How to Connect a Computer to a Projector
    How to Connect a Computer to a Projector
    • Step 1

      Determine exactly what type of cable you need to connect the computer to the projector. Every projector comes with a cable, but older projectors have VGA jacks, while newer projectors have DVI jacks, or both. If the projector you're using is missing its cable, you can use a standard video cable, the same type used for monitors.
      A standard VGA cable
    • Step 2

      Connect the cable to the computer. Depending on the type of computer you have, you might be able to connect the projector via the VGA or DVI port. If you have a laptop, you might need an adapter to attach the projector's cable to the computer. If you bought the laptop new, that adapter was included. If you don't have it, contact the manufacturer or pay a visit to a used computer store.
      A MacBook computer requires a DVI to Mini-DVI adapter

    • Step 3

      Configure the display settings on the computer, which can be found in the Control Panel on Windows computers and in the System Preferences on a Mac. This determines the resolution for the projector. If you don't have any documentation for the projector to find which resolution you should use, you will have to test the different settings to see which gives the best display. Usually the default setting delivers the optimal resolution for a projector.
      DVI (top) and VGA (bottom) jacks
    • Step 4

      Have things set up so that the projector mirrors what's on the screen. It's far easier to work on the computer while watching its display, not what's being projected on the wall.
      Display preferences in Windows
    • Skill: Moderately Easy
    • Ingredients:
    • Computer
    • Cable specific to your projector
    • Adapter specific to your computer
    • Projector
    • Tip: If you're preparing for an important meeting or presentation, do a test run with all the equipment beforehand.
    • Tip: Jot down the optimal display settings as to quickly get things set up.
    • Warning:
    • Bring extra cables and adapters if you're connecting to a projector off-site.
    • Never touch projector bulbs, as they get extremely hot.

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