9 Things to Try If HDMI Port Is Not Working on Your Laptop

A close up picture of the ethernet, usb, and HDMI port on a laptop

Is the HDMI not working when you plug your Windows laptop into a secondary display device, such as a TV or projector, using an HDMI cable? In most cases, you can fix this problem by restarting your computer. But if that doesn't work, this guide contains nine more troubleshooting steps you can try.

Good to know: if you're trying to upgrade your gaming setup, check out the best gaming monitor recommendations for 2023.

1. Check the HDMI Cable

One of the most common reasons HDMI is not working on Windows is a faulty cable. It's essential to rule this out before you start tweaking any settings on your laptop, as it is quite an easy fix.

A close up shot of the connector of an HDMI cable.
Image source: Pexels

To get to the bottom of this problem, try inserting another HDMI cable into your laptop and the second monitor. If that solves the problem, then the HDMI cable you were using is the culprit.

If you don't have an extra HDMI cable, you may need to buy one just to check it out. Alternatively, try unplugging the one you're currently using from your laptop and inserting it into another device: this could be another laptop or even a console. If it worked, the issue is most likely with your laptop.

Tip: check through these tips to ensure your cables have longevity.

2. Check the HDMI Port

If the HDMI cable is not the issue, then there may be a problem with your laptop's HDMI port. Give the port a good cleaning by blowing on it with your mouth or a can of compressed air to clear dust and debris. You can also dab a small amount of isopropyl alcohol on a cotton ball and rub it on the HDMI port.

Once the HDMI port is clean, plug the cable back in and see whether that solves the issue.

3. Try a Different HDMI Port

Your laptop will most likely have one HDMI port, but the device you're connecting it to may have two or more. Similarly to the first listed fix here, if the port you're plugging the HDMI cable into has a fault, try plugging the HDMI cable into another port and see whether it works.

4. Manually Change the Projection Mode

With the hardware solutions out of the way, it's time to start troubleshooting things on the software side. It could be that the HDMI is working, but Windows isn't switching to the right projection mode.

  1. To check whether this is the case, press Win + P to bring up the projection options.
Projection Options on Windows 11, with the "PC screen only" option selected.
  1. Check whether "PC screen only" is the highlighted option, which would mean Windows will only send video output to the primary monitor. If that's the case, you need to set it to one of the other options available:
  • Duplicate – both the primary and secondary monitors will show the same thing.
  • Extend – Windows treats the primary and secondary monitors as separate screens, meaning you can show different things on them.
  • Second screen only – Windows disables the primary monitor, sending everything to the secondary monitor.

Tip: looking for a portable projector? Check out these top-notch options!

5. Make Sure You're Using the Right Resolution

If the resolution on your laptop isn't the right one for the output device, it can cause a display error. You can solve this problem by making sure the display resolution is the recommended one. To do that, follow the steps below:

  1. Right-click an empty part of your desktop and select "Display settings."
The "Diplay settings" option highlighted in the Windows context menu.
  1. Scroll down to the "Scale & layout" section and check the drop-down in the "Display resolution" section.
The "Display resolution" section of the Display settings on Windows 11.
  1. If the set resolution doesn't say "Recommended" in brackets, click the drop-down to expand it, then select the recommended resolution.
Selecting the recommended resolution on Windows 11
  1. Check to see whether that will get the HDMI to start working.

6. Run an SFC or DISM Scan

If you have corrupted or missing system files on your Windows computer, it can cause certain functions to misbehave. Easily fix this by running an SFC or DISM scan.

The SFC will scan for and replace any corrupted files using a cached copy located on your machine. The DISM scan will also do the same but will replace system files that are missing, as the tool will repair the entire Windows image.

FYI: graphics cards can often suffer from issues. Fortunately, there are things you can do to diagnose and resolve them.

7. Fix Display Driver Issues

The HDMI connection may not be working because the display driver malfunctioned. Fix this by finding the display driver in Device Manager, then updating or reinstalling that driver.

Updating drivers in Windows via Device Manager.

If that doesn't work, it could be that the current version of the driver has encountered a bug. To fix that, try rolling back the driver to a previous working version. You can always update it later once Microsoft has fixed the bug.

8. Update Your Version of Windows

It's possible that the HDMI function on your Windows laptop is not working due to the system encountering a bug. The usual way to fix this is to restart your computer, but if that doesn't work, you may need to update Windows to the latest version. Hopefully, the bug will be fixed in the newer version.

9. Try a Different User Profile

While this doesn't actually fix the issue, switching to a different user profile can be a good workaround when certain functions on your computer aren't working.

  1. Right-click the Start button, then select "Shut down or sign out -> Sign out."
Signing out of Windows 11 via WinX menu.
  1. Sign in to another user account on your Windows laptop and see whether the HDMI is working in that account. If it is, it could mean that you're dealing with a corrupted profile.

Tip: wondering what sets a Microsoft account apart from a Local account? We explain the differences.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I force detect a second monitor on Windows?

If your system still can't detect the second monitor, plug the HDMI cable into your computer and the other monitor again, right-click an empty part of the desktop, then select "Display settings." Scroll down to the "Scale & layout" heading and expand the "Multiple displays" section. Finally, find where it says, "Detect other display," and click the "Detect" button.

Why is HDMI sound not working on Windows?

When the HDMI's audio is not working on Windows, it's usually because the operating system isn't selecting the correct audio device when you plug in the HDMI cable. To fix that, press Win + R to open a Run dialog window, type mmsys.CPL into the text box, then hit the Enter key. In the list of audio devices in the "Playback" tab, right-click the HDMI audio device and select "Set as default device."

Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Chifundo Kasiya.

Chifundo Kasiya
Chifundo Kasiya

Chifundo is a tech writer who loves all things computers and gaming. He has been a freelancer writer for over 10 years and loves tackling complex topics so he can break them down for everyone to understand. He is also an artist, game programmer, and amateur philosopher. As a tech writer for MTE, he focuses mainly on Windows.

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