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Using a Projector with your Laptop

Projecting PowerPoint presentations and other computer images in a classroom has become about as ubiquitous as a blackboard, or uh, a whiteboard. Here are a few tips to help minimize problems using a projector.

VGA cables


Connecting standard laptops and projectors
Connect your laptop and projector with your VGA cable. For projectors mounted permanently in classrooms, plug one end of the cable into the wall outlet provided (usually under the blackboard) and the other into your computer.


Outlet for VGA connection

Some projectors have a DVI connector as an option. The part that goes into the projector looks like that in the image below. The DVI connection will give you a somewhat better picture than the standard VGA connector. This is not an option for permanently installed projectors on campus.

DVI connector

Making the image display
If your laptop is not already set-up for this, you will need to tell it to output an image through the VGA cable. To do this, press the FN key, located on the lower left of your keyboard (see image below), and then the F8 key (sometimes it is the F4 key or others; you can try the function keys until it works). When you press this key, you toggle through three modes:

You will probably want this last setting so that you can see what you are doing on your computer as well as the screen. Just keep pressing FN and the F8 (or other) key until you get what you want. Please note that not all laptops have all three of these modes.

Function keys

Some setups require that the projector be turned on before turning on your laptop. If you cannot get the projector to "see" the laptop, try rebooting your computer while the projector is on. If this doesn't work, turn both off. Start the projector and then the computer.

Some projectors require that you change the input manually. Using the menu button on the remote or projector itself, change the inputs until you see your image. In some cases, there is an input specifically called, "computer."

In some cases, the image may not display correctly until your computer is completely "booted." Login to your computer and wait for windows to completely load.