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Is it possible to make my laptop's screen act as a second monitor for my desktop computer?

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  • this video seems to indicate that no additional software is necessary: cnettv.cnet.com/use-your-laptop-second-monitor/…
    – RamyenHead
    Feb 17, 2011 at 7:14
  • 1
    @RamyenHead: Even though the link you posted suggests that it enables you to use an old laptop as second monitor, when watching the video you will realize that they just use a second monitor with a laptop -- no desktop PC involved ...
    – f3lix
    Sep 13, 2011 at 8:10
  • See newer answers for newer OSs, like this answer. May 23, 2014 at 17:06
  • I wish Microsoft would get on this and build it into the OS - it's the kind of thing they could feature in an advertisement or even TV commercial showing cool stuff you can do in Windows 10 and a way to get people to upgrade but still be able to use their old computer
    – Simon
    May 27, 2015 at 21:15

9 Answers 9

51

Here's an interesting freeware solution:

ZoneScreen

alt text

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  • 3
    1. Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista and Windows 7 support is limited. (Aero must be disabled manually), and some BSOD reported under Windows 7. 2. It might be good to note that it is using Network connection between these computers
    – itsho
    Jul 22, 2013 at 13:41
  • 1
    Synergy has no such requirements or BSODs. Dec 28, 2013 at 7:42
  • 7
    Doesn't work with Windows 8. No longer being developed. :( Apr 9, 2014 at 15:13
  • 8
    Synergy is an excellent solution to a different problem May 24, 2015 at 22:24
  • 3
    I recommend using a program called "spacedesk" You just need to get the program loaded on both computers and know the IP address of the computer you want to add an extra monitor to.
    – Veridian
    Aug 13, 2015 at 20:48
19

To my knowledge, spacedesk is the best:

  • No issues with unsigned drivers
  • No issues with aero
  • Free, at least current beta
  • Supports either windows app, or any html-5 web browser as "client"
  • Windows 10 / 8.1 / 8 / 7 (x86 and x64)

Cons: This tool (probably, just like all other today's tools) is unable to provide nice FPS together with high image resolution and color depth. Even if link speed itself is not the issue (e.g. if you have 1Gbps LAN connection) "motion smoothness" is still far from perfect. So, although this solution is suitable for tasks like office work, it is hardly suitable for video/gaming.

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  • 2
    I also recommend this over zonescreen!
    – Veridian
    Aug 13, 2015 at 20:49
  • 1
    Spacedesk will cause serious issues with video games and computer streaming software, such as Open Broadcaster Software. It interferes with the video feed and causes games to crash and frame loss in OBS.
    – Aaron Reed
    Jun 21, 2016 at 19:51
  • Best solution so far. My "viewer" is a 2550x1440 screen. It has visible compression artefacts to avoid lag.
    – OneWorld
    Sep 24, 2018 at 9:10
16

Maxivista is a commercial software that lets you do this.

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  • 1
    It's worth noting that there are some limitations when using it with Windows Vista. See here: maxivista.com/docs3/09/sysreq.htm
    – Joe Schmoe
    Jul 29, 2009 at 20:50
  • 1
    @JoeSchmoe The irony: You can't get the Maxi out of this software on Vista! Dec 15, 2013 at 20:45
  • 6
    Doesn't work with Windows 8. No longer being developed. :( Apr 9, 2014 at 15:11
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+50

The following product is advertised as compatible with Windows 8 :

Air Display

Air Display is an app that lets you connect an iPad, Android tablet, or Mac or Windows computer as a secondary display to a primary Mac or PC desktop using your wireless network. By default Air Display is set to function in Extended Desktop mode.

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  • 3
    ShareMouse is more like a software KVM; it doesn't allow you to use your laptop's screen as an additional monitor. Rather, it allows you to control your laptop (or other computer) with your primary computer's keyboard and mouse.
    – Josh
    Apr 7, 2014 at 19:41
  • 2
    Similarly, Multiplicity describes itself as a "Virtual KVM switch" that allows you to "Control up to 9 PCs and displays with one keyboard and mouse." It does not appear to allow you to use the laptop monitor to extend your desktop.
    – Josh
    Apr 7, 2014 at 19:42
  • 2
    Yes, that's exactly what MaxiVista and ZoneScreen do--but they don't support Windows 8, which is what I need.
    – Josh
    Apr 8, 2014 at 0:27
  • 3
    It says "If you wish to use the remote control feature on Windows 8 computers, please check out our new software "ShareMouse"". It is very clear. I am not interested in the remote control feature, nor is this question about remote control. Maxivista does offer BOTH remote control and extending your desktop, which is why, the developers suggested ShareMouse for users interested in remote controlling another machine.
    – Josh
    Apr 8, 2014 at 9:09
  • 1
    Air Display technically works! However, I am extremely disappointed in the performance. I've got my two PCs connected via gigabit ethernet with nothing but a gigabit switch separating them, and the screen refresh is still slow as a dog. You're constantly overshooting things with the mouse because of the latency--the mouse pointer keeps moving for a second or two after you've stopped physically moving the mouse. At any rate, it does technically work and answer the question, so if you'll remove the ShareMouse and Multiplicity links from your answer I'll upvote it. Thanks!
    – Josh
    Apr 8, 2014 at 19:45
6

Though perhaps not exactly what you want, you could use synergy between computers (OS independent too!). As well, you can copy both text and files across the computers, so for all intents and purposes they act as one computer (though still use their own hardware).

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  • 1
    That's not what's we seek. :) The goal is to use a laptop (or another PC) as a secondary monitor for the main OS. Making it equivalent to a second monitor, where as this is more like a KVM without the "V". :) Apr 11, 2014 at 19:09
  • 4
    You can't drag an application between screens, so it's hardly the same "for all intents and purposes"
    – Ben Voigt
    Apr 13, 2014 at 19:52
  • Exactly what I was looking for when googling and coming to this topic, so thanks! Feb 26, 2015 at 15:41
  • synergy resolve only one problem. It is single mouse+keyboard controlling two or more computers. But main idea is using display screen connected into remote computer, but remotely extending main computer as its semi native display. For example many laptops and computers are able use only two monitors. For accessing 3rd monitor it is needed attach additional graphics card. It cause trouble with laptop, even with two display ports. Many laptops has CPU or chipset limitation to two monitor.
    – Znik
    Aug 16, 2017 at 9:17
1

You can also do it via remote assistance, if you have a second output on your display adapter. I mean that you have to be able to hook another display to your desktop PC via cable. The remote assistant is able to show the secondary desktop (as well as the primary) even if the monitor is not physically hooked.

No third party programs required for this solution.

Edit: In details, if you have a multiple outputs in your display driver but no monitors (not hooked), you can do the following (works for nvidea quadro 2000 and win 7):

  1. go to: nvidea control panel -> workstation -> view system topology
  2. from there: (main display port) manage EDID... -> export EDID...
  3. same place: (secondary display port) manage EDID... -> load EDID... (choose the file that you saved in the previous bullet)
  4. Now you have a 'virtual' secondary screen and you can use remote assistant to zoom to it

This trick does not require admin rights nor extra software.

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  • On current version of NVIDIA Control Panel (7.2.710.0) [NVCPL.dll is 8.17.13.2049], I couldn't find "workstation" option. here's a screenshot
    – itsho
    Jul 22, 2013 at 13:35
  • My version for NVCPL.dll is 8.17.12.7589 (previous one) and I have this workstation. The system information (button in your screen shot lower left corner) shows workstation as a server in components tab. The corresponding dll:s are nvWSS.dll and nvWSSR.dll. You could check if you find these dlls in your computer (the workstation mode might require some additional enabling/installing/etc).
    – Juha
    Jul 29, 2013 at 10:02
  • I do have those files. I've searched a bit and it seems that Workstation mode is available only with NVIDIA Quadro cards - which I don't have. Please correct me if that's incorrect.
    – itsho
    Jul 29, 2013 at 10:20
  • You might be correct. I tested this on home and office and both seem to have quadro. Anyway, the secondary display should not be dependent on the control panel. The logic goes (1 to 3 should work independently of the graphics card, bullet 4 I am not so sure): 1. You have two output display ports. 2. You attach two monitors. 3. You can connect to your secondary monitor via remote assistant. 4. It is possible to skip step 2.
    – Juha
    Jul 30, 2013 at 4:30
1

You can use your laptop as second monitor using " Real VNC " Software. I have done many times you can operate by laptop or desktop anyone and you can see in other.

Update :

I misunderstood the Question. to use your laptop screen as the extended screen use Zone Screen for Windows 7 or lower versions.It is no longer developed. See the first answer.

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  • 1
    By using RealVNC you get a mirror image of your primary display. I think the asker wants a way to get more usable desktop space.
    – mtak
    Apr 11, 2014 at 12:43
  • 2
    +1 again, as it is very well possible to tell your 'main' computer to 'pretend' there is a second monitor on your gfx-card and then tell VNC to connect to that one. FYI: I'm actually looking at it right now and although it lags badly, it works just fine to show debugging and error information on my other laptop.
    – deroby
    Dec 16, 2014 at 11:09
  • You can add an external virtual monitor in Windows and use VNC to serve only it, thus making dual monitor setup using two computers.
    – niutech
    Dec 24, 2015 at 7:36
0

dmx.sourceforge.net - have to fool around before you can get it to work. But you can create video-walls with it. (or just two screens)
Example : buy a raspberry pi for 30$ and a hdmi screen for 140 $ ... no : buy 15. Put a HQ switch between all. install dmx (Distributed Multihead X Project) and you have a nice 7920x4320 desktop.

0

For iPad you can use this. It's now available for Windows and works on Win 8.

http://www.duetdisplay.com/

Better if you have a larger iPad but I have my iPad mini attached to the side of my screen with a clamp so I can finally have a second monitor when I'm at Starbucks :-)

You physically just rotate the device to change the orientation of the second monitor. It's a little glitchy now and I often have to force quit DWM.exe to get it going again.

(Not free, $10-$16 depending upon what they're pricing it at)

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