Projectors are marvelous inventions, but they aren’t always the easiest to use. Whether you’re having trouble adjusting the setting on your computer, or can’t quite figure out how to set up a new projector, sometimes it’s nice to have a little extra help.
Duplicating a screen on a projector is a useful skill to have. It’s easier to maneuver than having to drag a window off the desktop to put it on the projector and give you or the audience an extra screen to enjoy the content on.
A Mac and Windows computer are set up very differently, so let’s break down how to duplicate a screen on both operating systems.
Duplicating a MacOS Screen on a Projector
Duplicating a projector screen on a MacOS is quite simple. You just need to know how to access the settings options.
First, locate the Apple logo on the top, left corner of your screen. This is where you’ll go for many settings, so it’s good to know how to access it.
Once there, click on ‘System Preferences’. There will be many things you can adjust in System Preferences, but you’re looking for ‘Displays’.
Click on the ‘Arrangement’ option. You’ll notice a bunch of blue boxes in a line. These represent your desktop and the projector screen. This would be helpful if you decided not to duplicate the image.
Under that representation, check the ‘Mirror Displays’ box. Now, your projected image will be a replica of your desktop screen.
Duplicating a Windows Screen on a Projector
Windows computers do not automatically duplicate the image onto the projector. When you first plug your projector into a Windows computer, you’ll find a blank desktop being projected onto your wall.
This is a simple fix.
Start by pressing the key with the Windows logo on it. While still holding down that key, press the letter ‘P’. This will bring up the projector settings.
If it’s not already ticked, press the ‘Duplicate’ option. Now, your projector’s screen will look identical to the computer. If you decide you don’t like duplicating the screens, you can go back and untick the ‘Duplicate’ option.
If the shortcut method doesn’t work on your device, start by going to the Windows menu. From there you can search and bring up the projector settings. Just type ‘display’ into the search bar.
The Benefits of not Duplicating a Screen
Lots of people’s first instinct is to duplicate their screen onto the projector. It’s how most people know how to use the technology and it is a lot easier to navigate.
However, depending on what you’re doing, duplicating the screen may not always be the best option for you.
Switching to ‘extend mode’ will make your screen larger, rather than just copying it onto the second monitor or projector.
If you’re busy working away, having the option to pull up an entirely different window on a larger screen is very helpful. You could either play something in the background (if it’s not too distracting) or pull up other work-related content.
Have kids or guests that you need to keep entertained? Look up a video you know they love (apparently something called Paw Patrol is pretty popular) and throw that onto the projector screen. Now you can continue using your computer as normal without having to entertain the little ones.
Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to play anything with sound, otherwise, you’ll interrupt their viewing experience.
Finally, this method of projection offers a little more privacy than screen mirroring. Sometimes, we don’t want everyone to see what we have saved on our desktop, our frequently visited applications, or the general way we use our computer.
By dragging a window onto a blank screen, you protect your privacy and only make what you want seen public. We especially recommend this in professional settings where an embarrassing Google search popping up could be uncomfortable.
Duplicating a screen on a projector only takes a minute or two. It’s quite easy to do on MacOS and Windows, although you shouldn’t expect the process to be similar.
Remember, you need to go to System Preferences on a MacOS computer to get to the settings. Whereas on a Windows computer, you should hold down the Windows logo key.
Make sure that you’re using the right kind of HDMI cable. The more recent the cable is, the better it’s going to work. We do not recommend streaming or playing video games with a 1.4 or lower HDMI cable.
Finally, consider that you might enjoy not mirroring your screen. It provides an extra level of privacy and could even boost your productivity– especially if your kids are begging to watch something on the big screen!
Do you prefer to duplicate your screen on the projector and drag the windows onto it? Why? Let us know in the comments below!
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.