Can I Use My TV as a Second Display?

How can I connect my computer to my TV such that I can see everything I am doing on the computer on my TV screen. I am not trying to use the TV as a primary monitor but as a secondary one, like the one you can see in a computer show on TV.

If you have an old (as in pre-digital) television, the answer is that you probably can’t, and if you can, you probably shouldn’t. The results will be … well, I’ll just say less than ideal. Older TVs just weren’t made for the kind of display that our computers expect.

However, if your TV is relatively new — almost any “flat” TV will do — and your computer is also relatively current, you’ll probably be able to do exactly what you have in mind, just like the shows you’re watching on TV.

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How Do I Shut Down a Machine with No Display?

My computer is on an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), but its screen is not. When the power goes out and only the computer is running I have no way of seeing what’s on the screen, so I have no way to safely turn off the machine. Is there some way I can?

Honestly, that’s a tough situation unless you plan ahead for it.

The good news is that if you can plan ahead, there are several reasonable approaches to getting that machine shut down cleanly.

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Making Things Look Bigger in Windows 10

We got a new laptop, and of course it has Windows 10. It also has the latest fancy-dancy screen, or so I’m told. Supposedly it’s “bigger”, 3200×1800 I guess? But everything on it is teeny tiny! That’s the exact opposite of what I want! I can barely read it!

It’s always frustrating when making things “bigger” makes them smaller instead. As newer displays have much higher resolution than we’ve seen in the past, yours is a very common reaction when people get new machines.

Fortunately, Windows 10 has made this easier to deal with than in previous versions.

When we’re done, icons and text will indeed be bigger, and everything — especially photos — will be crisper and clearer than ever before.

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How Do Pixels and DPI and Resolution and Picture Size and File Size All Relate?

Please explain the relationship between bytes (resolution), pixels (understood as size), and dpi (e.g. 300 dpi resolution for printing purposes). I need to explain to colleagues at work why their reports uploaded to our website take so long to download – because they are too big and contain many high res photographs and pdfs!

It can be very confusing.

Understanding some of the details about how photographs are stored on disk, how they are displayed, and how they are printed, can allow you to make a dramatic difference in the size of documents, web pages, emails, and more.

The details aren’t horrific but they can be a little confusing if a couple of fundamentals are skipped, especially because there are two different types of “size.”

So, I’ll start with the fundamentals.

It all starts with pixels.

Read moreHow Do Pixels and DPI and Resolution and Picture Size and File Size All Relate?

What Does “No Signal” Mean?

I  just started to get a “No Signal” message when trying to start up. When I push the Panic button on the tower, it starts. Everything works normally after the start. What’s going on?

This message, and several others like it, confuse many people.

The reason for the confusion is that the message isn’t actually coming from your computer at all.

And on top of all that, it might, or might not, indicate that there’s a problem.

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Why do I get a black screen on my computer after a while?

My computer switches to a black screen after about 5 to 15 minutes of use. Then I have to turn it off to get another 5 to 15 minutes of use. Can you tell me what part of my computer is causing this black out?

I get questions that boil down to this symptom quite often.

Unfortunately, it’s very hard for me to offer concrete help.

The problem is that there are so many possibilities that could lead to this symptom. There’s simply no single “part of my computer” to point at.

There are many things to look at, and look for, so I’ll review the most common causes and remedies.

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Will My Old CRT Work with a New Computer?

I have a Compaq Presario that I purchased new in 2006, which came preloaded with Windows XP. Due to the loss of support for Windows XP, I’m looking to purchase a new computer, but with limited funds available at the moment. My question is this; if I do purchase a new CPU from HP, will my current CRT type monitor still be able to work with a newer computer?

First of all, be aware the term “CPU” actually refers to only one chip that’s inside the box. We typically refer to that box that I think that you call CPU as “the computer” and the external monitor, “the monitor”.

Will the old monitor work? Well, quite probably. It’s not an unreasonable scenario at all.

I’ll review what you need to look for and what you might be missing out on.

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Why Are Touch Screen Monitors so Much More Vivid?


Leo, I’m looking for a monitor, 22 inches. I’ve been in several stores and no one can tell me why a touchscreen monitor is so much more vivid and bright, and the images just jump out at you compared to say, an LED or LCD monitor. What a difference! I’m running Windows 7 and I’m thinking this is what I’m looking for. It seems that these monitors are used on an all-in-one PC. Are they available separately? I don’t have any intentions to use the touchscreen but the colors and the display are unbelievable! What’s the difference? What do these monitors have that the others do not? And also, are these monitors even compatible with Windows 7?

To be honest, I don’t know. I can and I will speculate a little – but I do want to talk about touchscreens, specifically with respect to compatibility and hardware requirements.

Realize that most of the touch screens are in fact typically just LCD monitors with additional touch hardware.

Read moreWhy Are Touch Screen Monitors so Much More Vivid?

Why Does My Monitor Go Dark for a Few Seconds?

Leo, I’ve got an HP Pavilion H8 1017, which I love dearly. I’m on a Windows 7 operating system and it’s standalone. I use it mostly for graphic work: Photoshop, video editing, and the like. Lately, my screen goes black for about 10 seconds whenever I stop what I’m doing and open another program. I’m afraid that this may be a prelude to the blue screen of death. I do disk cleans and defrags regularly. I have McAfee protection and AOL computer checkup and backup. Please help! I don’t want my HP to become the recently departed.

A screen going dark isn’t likely to be a computer problem; it’s probably a monitor problem. Your HP is a desktop model, which means you have a separate monitor.

I have a similar problem with my machine. After doing some research, I have a couple of ideas.

Let’s start by getting some of the obvious things out of the way.

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Can I Add More than One External Monitor to My Machine?

I own an Acer Aspire 5750 with an Intel HD graphics 3000. I’m currently using it with one external monitor and the laptop monitor. Can I add a second external monitor and have all three monitors working at the same time? The operating system is Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit with 8 GB of memory. I’ve done some searching without success. I’ve sent a request to Acer about a month ago. So far, no answer from them.

I can think of several different ways to add a second external monitor. Not all of them will work on your laptop – that depends on your machine’s capabilities – but some will.

Let’s look at your options.

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Why Does My Monitor Stretch and Distort My Display?

Do all widescreen monitors distort and stretch the image out sideways? If so, I will sell my monitor and get a smaller one, but I suspect a new video card might cure my problem. I can’t seem to get a straight answer from any computer store and I’ve called a bunch. Can you please recommend a video card for me to buy? I have a new low-end Lenovo desktop PC. I don’t do any gaming; I just want a card that can display images on my new 27-inch widescreen monitor at the recommended 1920 x 1080 resolution without the image looking all distorted and stretched out sideways like it does now. My current video card will not support 1920 x 1080 resolution. It’s now set at 1280 x 960. I do have all of the latest drivers installed for both monitor and video card, but that didn’t help.

The fact that your video card doesn’t support 1920 x 1080 is the root of the problem here.

The issue is something called aspect ratio.

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What’s this obscure message on my monitor and why can’t I make it go away?

Hi, Leo. A small, 50 mm by 5 mm blue “flag” with the legend (a number of unintelligible characters) has recently appeared on my screen. It’s permanently on the top; even the pointer disappears underneath it. At the same time, my monitor screen has begun changing colors even when the PC is switched off (although this stops once have it booted up). It does not seem to affect the operating of the computer or to do anything but sit there, which is annoying. I’m using a Packard Bell PC with Windows XP Pro. Help to remove this would be much appreciated.

Most people don’t realize that everything that appears on your screen is not always put there by your computer. Because the mouse pointer disappears when you move it beneath the flag, the monitor itself probably put what you’re seeing there.

I, too, have encountered the occasional odd message on my monitor.

Read moreWhat’s this obscure message on my monitor and why can’t I make it go away?

How Does Screen Resolution Work?

I’ve not received this exact question, but rather, I get a lot of questions relating to screen resolution and why things don’t work as expected. I also get questions where changing the screen resolution is one possible answer, but explaining why gets … complicated.

Screen resolution seems like a very simple thing and most of the time, it is.

The problem is that sometimes it’s not. And it’s not in a way that let’s me say “smaller is actually bigger” with a straight face.

Yes, making things smaller can make things bigger.

Told ya it’d be complicated.

Read moreHow Does Screen Resolution Work?

Why Does My Screen Go Black After the Windows Screen When I Boot?


My system will only boot correctly if I enable VGA mode. On a regular boot the OEM logo comes up, then the Windows logo, but after that I only get a black screen.

Windows tries to set the display to its configured settings right after displaying the Windows logo, and just before displaying the login screen or desktop.

Nine times out of ten if that’s when your display stops, it’s simply because your display settings are set to something that your monitor can’t handle. Depending on what it’s not supporting, some monitors respond by going black … others just go “crazy” displaying unintelligible gibberish.

If that’s the problem, it’s fairly easy to fix.

Read moreWhy Does My Screen Go Black After the Windows Screen When I Boot?