Sometimes you need to connect two laptops to stream video data from one laptop to the second laptop.
When that happens, your first idea might be to grab an HDMI cable and plug each end into a laptop. After all, the HDMI cable is used for streaming audio and video data!
But can you connect two laptops with an HDMI cable? Does it work? And is it safe?
We’ve found that you can’t connect two laptops with an HDMI cable .
Most laptops only have output HDMI ports, so they can’t receive video data through the HDMI cable. Connecting two laptops with an HDMI cable may also cause the laptops to short-circuit if the cable doesn’t have surge protection.
Can you connect two laptops with an HDMI cable?
No, you can’t connect two laptops with an HDMI cable.
To understand why you can’t do this, let’s go over how the HDMI ports in your laptops work.
An output HDMI port can’t receive video data—it can only send video data. Some laptops have input HDMI ports, but this is rare.
So when you plug an HDMI cable into the output HDMI ports of two laptops, both laptops will try to send video data through the cable to the other laptop. But since neither of them are input HDMI ports, they don’t receive the video data.
Because they are designed to only send video data, they won’t even be able to recognize the connection to another device that sends video data. This is why connecting two laptops with an HDMI cable doesn’t work.
What will happen if I connect two laptops with an HDMI cable?
Three main scenarios could happen if you connect two laptops with an HDMI cable: nothing happens, one laptop short circuits, or both laptops short circuit.
This is because when an HDMI cable is plugged into an output HDMI port, the output HDMI port will begin to send video data through the cable.
But to send video data, you need to use electricity. Usually, a charge of five volts is sent through the HDMI cable from the output HDMI port.
So when you plug two output HDMI ports together, a charge is sent through the HDMI cable to each other.
Luckily, manufacturers design the front of HDMI ports to have a chip of protection circuitry. This can protect an output HDMI port from any charges from another output HDMI port.
However, not all manufacturers include this protection circuitry to cut down manufacturing costs, especially in cheaper laptops.
If nothing happens, then you either got lucky, or both of your laptops have a protection chip that prevents them from short-circuiting.
If one or both of your laptops short circuits, or if your HDMI cable burns, then one or both of your laptops don’t have a protection chip. If you’re lucky, they’ll just need a quick repair, but if not, you may have to get new laptops entirely.
This happens whenever two output HDMI ports are connected, no matter what devices you’re using. So, before connecting anything, make sure to always check that one is an output HDMI port and one is an input HDMI port!
How do I connect the display of one laptop to another laptop?
Since connecting two laptops with an HDMI cable doesn’t work, how else can you connect two laptops to stream video data?
The answer lies in a technique like what you do to extend your display to a projector. And for Windows 10 laptops , you can turn a laptop into a second monitor wirelessly!
To connect the display of one laptop to another laptop, you can follow these simple steps:
- Make sure that both Laptop 1 and Laptop 2 are connected to WiFi and have Bluetooth on.
- On Laptop 1, the laptop you’ll be controlling from, press the Windows button.
- Click on Settings.
- Click on System.
- Choose the Projecting to this PC option.
- In the Projection settings, you will see three drop-down menus.
- For the first dropdown menu, set it to “Available everywhere”.
- For the second dropdown menu, set it to “First time only”.
- For the third dropdown menu, set it to “First Time PIN” if you want extra security, or “Never” if not.
- On Laptop 2, the laptop you’ll be streaming from, click on the Action Center button on the bottom right of the taskbar.
- Click on Project.
- In the Projection settings, you can choose to duplicate your screen, extend your screen, or use the second screen (Laptop 1) only.
- Once you’ve chosen, click on “Connect to a wireless display” at the bottom of the Project settings window.
- Look for Laptop 1 and click it.
- If you chose “First Time PIN” on Laptop 1, you may need to enter the PIN to connect to Laptop 1.
- Tick the box for “Allow inputs from this device” so that you can control Laptop 2 from Laptop 1.
After following the steps, you should be able to use Laptop 2’s display. And if you click “Allow inputs from this device” you can control everything from Laptop 1.
If Laptop 2’s display monitor is broken, you can choose the “Second screen only” projection setting to view and control it through Laptop 1.
If you want to use Laptop 2 as a second monitor, you can choose the “Extend” projection setting.
You can’t connect two laptops with an HDMI cable because both HDMI ports send video data.
This means they are incapable of receiving video data or even recognizing a connection to another output HDMI port.
If you try to connect two laptops with surge-protected HDMI ports, nothing will happen.
However, if one or both don’t have surge protection, they will short circuit, and the HDMI cable may burn.
To connect the display of one laptop to another laptop, you need to connect both laptops to WiFi and Bluetooth, then activate Laptop 1’s Projection settings. On Laptop 2, go to the Projection settings and choose “Connect to a wireless display.”
We hope this article helped you connect your two laptops!
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.