A Teacher’s Nightmare: How To Use A Projector?

The relationship between computers and projectors…a struggle in the everyday life.
Since our lives became more and more digital you barely can’t avoid using a projector – especially as a teacher in school or professor in a university. Showing something on the internet, slides of a presentation or playing a video are just a few examples where you need laptop and projector. But this damn projector never works the way you need it? Yes, sometimes it can be a bit tricky but once you know how the wind blows, it’s easy. In general, every projector works equally. Nonetheless, there are small differences between using a Windows or MacOS computer. The beginning, though, is the same for both.

The Foreplay

First of all, make sure that you start the computer before you switch on the projector. It sounds weird, but it makes things easier somehow. Then you start the projector and once it has booted you plug in the cord in the computer with either a VGA or HDMI cord.


The Windows-Projector-Relationship

Nowadays, nearly every computer has an HDMI (right) slot. Most of the older ones also or only have a VGA (left) slot:

vga_slot              hdmislot

On the other hand, if you have a modern netbook, for example, you might have neither nor and need an adapter to use HDMI or VGA.

When you plugged in the plug the computer should automatically recognise the projector and load the computer screen on the big screen. In case it doesn’t work now, you can try the following options:

  1. Check if your monitor settings are “activated”. You can easily do that with a key combination: [fn] + one of the F1-F12 Keys (this button varies from computer to computer, but the symbol always looks similar to the following example [F10]):
    On the computer screen now appears this:
    By holding the [fn]-button and pressing the [F10]-button you can switch between the options shown above. Choose “Duplicate” and projector and computer will show exactly the same screen. Choose “Extend” and the projector extends the computer screen (you have to drag windows now manually onto this extended screen with the cursor). Choose “Projector only” and only the projector will show the screen – the other way around works by choosing “Disconnect Projector”. And this last option (first one in the picture) could be a reason why the projector didn’t show something.
  2. If the projector isn’t disconnected, the problem might come from the projector itself. Sometimes it can’t find the source of the input. Either on the remote or the projector machine itself, you can find a button named like “Source Search”. Press this button and choose Computer or HDMI or something named like Search, which should find the input automatically. Also, double-check if the cable is plugged in correctly at both, projector and computer.

The MacOS-Projector-Relationship

First of all, you highly likely need an adapter to connect your Mac to a projector. If you use a VGA cable, definitely and if you use an HDMI cable, only the newer Macs (I think from 2013 and higher) have an HDMI slot integrated. Most of the times, you need an adapter that has the Thunderbolt plug on the one and a VGA/HDMI slot on the other side. The Thunderbolt slot at the Mac looks like this:

After you plugged in the cable (and adapter) your Mac should automatically recognise the projector. If it doesn’t work, try option two from above. If it’s still not working or in case the projector screen doesn’t look like as it should be, click on the apple symbol in the top left corner of your Mac screen, choose System Preferences and then “Displays”:



With “Optimize for” you can switch between computer and projector screen – change that to the not chosen option and see if that helps. Otherwise, if you see an option to change the screen resolution, you can either try around until you get a satisfying result or directly choose the one that matches the dimensions of the projector (in case you know them).

This should do it! By the way, connecting your computer to other screens or the TV works exactly the same 😉

The title picture URL is from: http://www.aaaudiovisualrentals.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/projector.png


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