This page will help you learn how to make your laptop work with our projectors. Because there are literally thousands of laptop configurations, models, screen sizes and screen resolutions out there, we cannot know how each laptop works.
Please understand that the information presented here is no substitute for reading your instruction manual, testing beforehand or a hands-on training. Spending 30 minutes testing the equipment BEFORE the semester starts can save you lost teaching time. Call us at 81494 for assistance.
We can provide BASIC troubleshooting and configuring to allow your computer to work with our projectors, but you will need to:
Whether you use
the console in a classroom or check out a projector from us, the hookup is the
You attach a VGA cable FROM the laptop TO the projector or console.
The cable attaches to your laptop via the EXTERNAL MONITOR port on the back of your laptop:
|Important note: Some laptops like the Sony Vaio, the Apple iBook, Powerbook and MacBookPro do not have standard VGA monitor connectors. Make sure you have any adapters or docking ports with you or you will not be able to connect to our consoles. Please call Laurie at 338-1492 for a consultation if your laptop does not have the standard VGA connection pictured below.|
This is a VGA port found on most Windows laptops.
|This is a VGA cable connector.|
In general, the order in which you do things with computers and projectors is very important:
This is important because when you turn on your computer, it looks to all the ports and connectors to see what's hooked up to it. So theoretically, the computer will know there is a projector connected and send the image that you see on the screen out to the projector.
ALWAYS CHECK THIS FIRST: Is the projector's input set to the correct COMPUTER input? If it is, try the following:
For Windows users: If you get an image on the laptop screen but not on the projector, check the following:
So if you press the "Function F" key sequence once, you'll get an image on the projector, but your laptop screen will go black. Press the key sequence again and you'll see the image through the projector and on your laptop.
Here is a list of the most common laptop keyboard commands.
For MAC users:
All Apple laptops made since 2008: Hold down the Command Key (to the left of the spacebar) and press F1. This will toggle the mirroring on and off.
First time setup: System Preferences>Displays>Display Tab. Two windows will appear. Check that the resolution on both is 1024x768. Also check the "Show displays in Menu Bar" checkbox to put a display shortcut at the top of your screen (near the clock).
Know your laptop! Read the manual and carry it with you. Always do a dry run before your class starts to work out any bugs.
The back story: When desktop computers were first introduced, monitors and projectors had the same resolution: 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels high.
Today, monitors and computers have advanced to the point where many different resolutions are possible up to 1920x1200 pixels. Most modern laptops use a 16:9 or 16:10 widescreen format. Our projectors use 1024x768 resolution and project a 4:3 format.
(Just to confuse you further, some laptops can display one resolution on the laptop's screen, but can output a different resolution to a video projector. Laptops can also split the display so half the desktop is in the laptop's screen, the other half is sent to the video projector. This configuration is used for the Presenter View/Presenter notes in PowerPoint. Yikes. See why we recommend testing it first?)
So, what does this mean for you?
In a nutshell: Our projectors display up to 1024x768 (higher resolutions will be compressed
down to 1024x768). If your laptop has a widescreen display, the laptop screen and the projector image will not match.
When you connect your laptop for the first time, go to the Displays Preferences and set your laptop and projector output to 1024x768.
Windows users: Control Panels>Displays
Mac users: System Preferences>Displays
When you change the setting to 1024x768, the laptop screen may have black bars on the sides or be stretched. This is normal. When you unplug from the projector, the laptop should return to normal.
So what should you do? TEST it before you need it. Get into your classroom and try it before your first class.
How do you know what resolution you're using?
Windows 95 and above: Start>Control Panels>Display>Settings Tab. On the right, you'll see the current resolution setting and a slider to change it. (This is in your instruction manual or in the Help feature on your laptop.)
OS X: System Preferences -> Displays. You will also need to bring a VGA adapter if you plan to use our projection systems.
Your laptop will shut off the display or go to sleep very quickly when it is using the battery. When it does, you will lose your image on the projector.
When that happens, tap the space bar on your keyboard. Wait a moment. When the laptop wakes up, the image will return on the projector.
You can adjust the power settings (Windows: Control Panels>Power Settings/Mac: System Preferences>Energy Saver) to prevent this behavior.
For the most reliable, fastest connection, USE AN ETHERNET CABLE. SFSU ethernet speeds clock at 90Mbps. Compare that to standard DSL (3Mbps) or cable (20Mbps). If you need to stream content, use ethernet.
All designated classrooms at SFSU have an ethernet jack. Our Classroom Database has complete information. Look in the column marked "DATA." If it's checked, there is a port in the room. We didn't install them, so we have no way of knowing where the jack is in the room. Look for a beige box on the wall with two blue jacks. The one marked "A" is the active one.
Also, we do not perform repairs on data connections and make no assurances that the port is active in each room. Please direct all repair questions concerning data jacks to DoIT at 338-1211.
Wireless internet users: Wireless access is sporadic in SFSU classrooms due to the distance from the base station and the concrete in the walls. You should always carry an 8-10 foot ethernet cable. There are retractable ethernet cables available through on-line retailers. Regular ethernet cables are available at the bookstore. Cables are available for faculty checkout in Lib 85 (bring your ID).
All AT Computers
are configured for Internet access using ethernet and wifi.
We do not provide technical support configure your personal computer. Please call the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) for help (338-1420).
There are usually three reasons why
things go wrong with your connection:
Your computer is not configured to access the SFSU server properly.
The port in the room is not active.
There is something wrong with the ethernet cable.
There is no quick fix for ethernet problems.
Therefore: we recommend the following:
Nothing is 100% reliable. If your class depends on a Powerpoint or Word presentation, get your presentation off your laptop and on to a flash drive. Always carry it with you. Do not rely on "the cloud" for storage. In the event your laptop fails or will not display properly, you can come to our office and check out one of our laptops. More tips are available here.
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