Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

What to Do When One of Your Dual Monitors Stops Working

You have two monitors connected to your Windows XP PC and one suddenly stops working. Any windows you have open on that monitor cannot be seen and to make the problem worse, it may be your primary monitor so the task bar with the start button and clock and all your desktop icons are now out of reach.

First things first: Make sure it has power. The power cord could be loose on either end, ensure it is properly connected. Also, cycle the power switch a couple of times on the monitor to see if has become intermittent.

Next, make certain that the signal cable is secure. Sometimes these will become loose and the monitor will go into sleep mode.

If you have determined that the monitor just isn't going to be revived and you need to access your system here are some helpful tips:

We will assume a worst case scenario here; the only monitor working has nothing on it but a blank desktop background.

1. Right click on the desktop background and choose properties from the pop-up menu that appears by left clicking on the word 'properties'

2. Press and Hold the 'Alt' key and tap the spacebar one time. This selects a hidden menu that will allow you to move that property window which we must imagine is hiding on the nonworking monitor.

3. Press the letter 'M' key on the keyboard. This locks the window into a move mode. You can now use the arrow keys and your mouse to move the window into view as if we are sliding it from the nonworking monitor to the working monitor. If you are going to use your mouse to move the window, you must press at least one arrow key first to lock the cursor to the window.

4. Choose the Settings tab by left clicking on it.

5. Press the 'Identify' button by left clicking on it. This will help you determine which monitor is working and how it is referenced in the settings. Click on the graphical representation of that monitor. If you saw a large 1 click on the 1, if you saw a large 2, click on the 2.

6. Make sure both boxes have check marks next to "Use this Device as the Primary Monitor" and "Extend my Windows Desktop Onto This Monitor". If necessary, click on the graphical icon for the nonworking monitor and uncheck both of these boxes. IMPORTANT: Before clicking apply, we must first ensure that the computer will not restart itself.

7. Click on the 'Advanced' button. If you do not see the Advanced window, use the same technique as shown in 2 & 3 above to bring it into view. Select the center option labeled "Apply the new display settings without restarting" . Click OK. This will take you back to the 'display properties' and now you can click 'Apply'. A timer box may pop up asking if you wish to keep these settings, choose 'yes'.

Those seven steps should now make your working monitor the primary display so you can take your nonworking monitor in for repairs.

Here is a quick tip to get hidden windows on to your primary screen when they are 'off-screen' either because of a failed monitor or a display resolution change:

1. Right Click on the task-bar (that is the blank part between the start button on the lower left and the clock on the lower right). Make sure you click where there is no other icons, it must be a blank area. A pop-up menu will appear.

2. Select 'Cascade Windows' from the list by left clicking on it. This will bring all the windows from off-screen and stack them onto your primary desktop.

3. Optional: If you only have a few windows open, you may wish to repeat 1 & 2 and select 'Tile Windows Horizontally' or 'Tile Windows Vertically' so that you can see the contents of each window properly organized on the screen.

I hope these tips prove useful for you as they have saved me many, many times over the years. This is especially true when the work needs saved but it was open on the failed monitor. It is also true when a high resolution monitor has been changed for a lower resolution. Windows that are opened and closed at a position on the screen will be reopened to that position the next time they are opened. If the monitor has been changed, then those windows can actually open 'off-screen' where you can't see them. This gives the illusion that you have a program that isn't responding when in fact it is happily being displayed out of view.

H. W. Gramm

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1 Answer

I have a Mag Innovision 2200W Monitor. I messed with the settings, and now I get a ''mode not supported'' error. The computer is running in the background, and works with other monitors, but not this one. Suggestions?


To resolve this issue connect a monitor which is working with the Computer. Now right click on desktop and select properties(if windows XP) or personalize/screen resolution (if windows vista / 7)-> Now click on settings tab (windows XP) or change the resolution of your monitor-> Choose a lower resolution rate maybe 800X600. Now try connecting the other monitor with your Computer and it will work.

If not then check for the refresh rate of your monitor, adjust it to 60 Hz. You can adjust refresh rate from settings tab->advanced button(in XP). Screen resolution/Display settings(under windows 7/vista)->Advanced setting->monitor tab ->refresh rate.

This will surely resolve your issue.

Daniel Scott

Jun 08, 2010 | Computers & Internet

1 Answer

my HP monitor (f50) has malfunctioned

Try these 2 steps if they don't work get back to me :)

Step 1. Connect the video cable and turn on the computer. What happens?
  • If the monitor screen remains blank (no startup screens or onscreen display messages), the monitor must be connected to another computer using a different cable to determine if the monitor is bad. Skip to the Step to connect the monitor to another computer.
  • If the monitor is capable of displaying boot screens but is unable to display Windows, use the following steps to set the computer to a compatible resolution:
    NOTE: Find the native display resolution for your monitor in the User Manual or in the product specifications for the monitor model. If you are unable to find the native display resolution for your monitor model, temporarily use 1024x768 for troubleshooting purposes.
    1. Turn on the computer and press the F8 key repeatedly when the first startup screen appears.
    2. If you are using Windows Vista, select Enable low resolution video (640 x 480) , press Enter , and wait until Windows opens. To set display settings that match the monitor, use the steps in the HP support document, Changing Display Settings, Background Image, and Screen Saver in Windows Vista . If you are using Windows XP, select Enable VGA Mode , press Enter , and wait until Windows opens. Continue using these steps to set display resolution. If you are using Windows 98 or ME, select Safe Mode and perform the following steps to enter into a standard VGA mode:
      1. Once Windows opens to the desktop in Safe Mode, click Start , and Run .
      2. In the Open field type msconfig and press Enter . The MS Configuration Utility window appears.
      3. Click the Advanced button, and select VGA 640 x 480 x 16 if it is available.
      4. Click OK and restart the computer.
      5. After Windows opens, click Start , and then click Run .
      6. In the Open field type msconfig and press Enter .
      7. Click the Advanced button, and remove the checkmark next to VGA 640 x 480 x 16 .
      8. Click OK . Do NOT restart the computer.
    3. After Windows opens, right-click on an open area of the desktop and select Properties (Windows XP, 98/Me) or Personalize (Windows Vista).
    4. In Windows Vista, Scroll down and click Display Properties . In Windows XP, 98, or Me, click the Settings tab.
    5. In Windows Vista, select the native display resolution size using the Resolution slider. Set Colors to Highest (32 bit) . In Windows XP, select the native display resolution size using the Screen resolution slider. Set Color Quality to Highest (32 bit) . In Windows 98 or Me, select the native display resolution size using the Screen Area slider. Set Colors to True Color .
    6. Click Apply after you have made your adjustment. The screen should blank out temporarily and come back.
    7. If you are satisfied with the new display settings, click Yes on the Monitor Settings windows. If you are not satisfied or if the screen just goes black, wait: Windows sets the screen back to the way it was before. Try another setting until you find a display configuration that is compatible with the monitor and meets your needs.
      NOTE: If the native resolution is not available, download and install updated video driver software for your computer. Updating the video driver software can add more resolutions (graphics modes).
    8. Restart the computer. The monitor should now display a full screen image in high quality. You are done.
Step 2: Connect to another monitor
Using a different cable, connect the monitor to another computer that has video. Turn on the monitor and the newly connected computer. What happens?
  • If the monitor works, the video hardware on the original computer is likely to be the source of the problems. You can try connecting the original computer to another monitor that works to update its video drivers.
  • If the monitor remains blank, repair or replace the monitor.

Dec 27, 2008 | HP Pavilion F50 17" Flat Panel LCD Monitor

2 Answers

the HP monitor stop working with systemax windows xp

no vga input message means that the monitor is working fine, and the problem is probably your pc. check the cable connecting the monitor to the pc. if that is ok, you ma have to open up the pc and check some components, most likely the RAM

May 02, 2008 | Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition

1 Answer

Audio Driver

You need to post the model # of your pc, as the monitor is not the problem...

Apr 02, 2008 | HP Compaq FS 7550 17" CRT Monitor

1 Answer

monitor not powering down

Do you mean the computer is sutting down but on the monitor showes different colors if so you might have a problem in the system you might have to reinstall you OS if the computer does shut down but the monitor stays on and flashes different colors you have to shut the monitor down manually with the power button on the monitor.

Feb 14, 2008 | Dell Dimension 3000 PC Desktop

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