For VGA to work, it needs an input and an output.
Most commonly, the port on a desktop acts as the output while the monitor is the input. So theoretically, if you connect a desktop to a laptop via VGA, the laptop should work as an input, right?
Let’s take a look.
Laptops are not designed to be input devices. So, the VGA, DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI ports only work one way. They all output the signal.
You can connect a laptop to an external monitor, but you cannot use a laptop as an external monitor unless you use Miracast or other workarounds.
If you still have any questions on your mind, I will expand on that answer. It is also essential to cover everything you need to know when it comes to laptop VGA ports not being able to be used as an input.
As a bonus, I will also walk you through a workaround.
Is the VGA Port on My Laptop Input or Output?
The VGA port on a laptop is used for output.
When you connect a VGA cable to your laptop, it will only send a signal out. Remember, the other end of the VGA cable needs to be connected to a display.
With all my experience in IT, I have never seen a laptop with a VGA port connected directly to the monitor of the machine instead of to the laptop.
However, if your VGA port is connected directly to the monitor by some rare chance, there is a high chance it works as an input.
Can a Laptop VGA Output Be Used as an Input?
The VGA port on a laptop works only as an output port.
In most cases, you would ask this question if you were trying to connect a desktop PC to a laptop to use the laptop as a secondary display.
There is a workaround for getting your laptop to act as an extended display for your desktop, but you cannot do so by physically connecting the laptop and the PC via a VGA cable.
Is the HDMI Port on My Laptop Input or Output?
If your laptop has an HDMI port, and you are wondering whether you can use that as an input, it cannot do it directly.
This concept is the same as it is with VGA: the port is used as an output, and they are not built to work as input devices.
However, there is an expensive workaround.
You could use a capture card to take video from a console or PC. You connect it between the two devices, in this case, your console/PC and your laptop. It plugs into the USB 3 slot.
You can then see the video on your laptop.
Theoretically, you could use the laptop as a secondary monitor, but remember, the capture card has to do processing, so there might be a long delay.
Can I Use a Laptop as a Monitor?
Even though the VGA and HDMI ports on your laptop do not work as inputs, there is a workaround.
Both devices will need to have Wi-Fi, and they will both need to be connected to the same network. With a little bit of effort, you can project your PC display onto your laptop and use it as an extended display.
If you are on Windows 11, you will have to take a few extra steps.
I will link a video that shows you how to project your desktop display to your laptop and if you are on Windows 11, keep reading for those extra steps.
2 Free Ways To Use A Laptop As A Monitor
Preparing Windows 11 to Project to a Wireless Display: 9 Easy Steps
Windows 11 is relatively new. Well, I guess that depends on when you are reading this article, but you have to manually prepare your machine to project as of writing this piece.
Please remember that if you do not have Wi-Fi on either of the devices, you will reach a point where you cannot carry on.
You will be met with an error saying that your device does not support Miracast, but if you have Windows 11, it’s probably not because of your hardware — it’s because you lack a Wi-Fi card.
- Click the search button on the taskbar and type “Settings.”
- Open Settings, and you should get a new window.
- On the left-hand side of the Settings window, scroll down to the “Apps” tab.
- In the Apps window, scroll down to “Optional features.” Click on that option.
- Right on the top, you will see an option called “Add an optional feature.” It will have a blue box next to it. Select that option. A pop-up window will appear.
- In the pop-up window will be a search box. Select it.
- In the search box, type the words “Wireless Display.” The option will appear.
- Select “Wireless Display.”
- Click “Next.”
The download file is tiny and shouldn’t take much time.
If you get told that the installation has failed, restart your machine and try again. This does happen to some people, and it seems to be a bug rather than a concerning problem
How Do I Use the VGA Port on My Laptop?
To use the VGA port on your laptop, you need a VGA cable. The port only works as an output, so you will also need a display that supports VGA.
To plug the cable into the VGA port, you need to line up the pins with their corresponding holes.
It would be best if you lined it up correctly. Otherwise, you might break one or two of the VGA pins.
If that happens, the cable becomes useless. In the worst-case scenario, the port can become damaged.
When you look at a VGA port or cable, you will notice an offset. The bottom and top pins or holes will be parallel to each other, while in the middle, the pins will have an offset, and you need to line them up.
Once the VGA cable is connected to its port, you want to screw in the screws. All you have to do is turn them in a clockwise direction until they bite.
We have written a lengthy article about why VGA cables have screws — you might want to read that when you are done with this article.
I have been writing a few articles about VGA because I get so many questions about the old connection.
If there is anything else you need to know, I highly recommend going through some of our other articles, and hopefully, we can answer more of your questions.
Vance is a dad, former software engineer, and tech lover. Knowing how a computer works becomes handy when he builds Pointer Clicker. His quest is to make tech more accessible for non-techie users. When not working with his team, you can find him caring for his son and gaming.