How to Add Additional (External) Monitor to Ubuntu

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to add an additional (external) monitor to Ubuntu 20.04 | 18.04.

Ubuntu operating system is capable of working with multiple displays or monitors. If you have additional monitors that you want to extend your work to, simply plug into your Ubuntu machine to get it working.

With two screens, these display modes are available:

Join Displays: screen edges are joined so things can pass from one display to another.

Mirror: the same content is shown on two displays, with the same resolution and orientation for both.

Single Display: only one display is configured, effectively turning off the other one. This is usually the case where you have an external monitor connected to a laptop with the screen closed.

To get started with extending Ubuntu to two or more monitors, follow the steps below:

Setup additional monitor

When you setup an additional monitor to Ubuntu, It should automatically recognize and adjust its settings.

However, if the systems doesn’t automatically identify or recognize it, follow the steps below to configure its settings.

Open the Activities overview and start typing Displays.

Click Displays to open the panel.

If you see two or more monitors in the display panel, drag your displays to the relative positions you want. A number identifying the display position is shown at the top left when active.

You can identify each display and drag it to its corresponding position as they’re physically setup.

Click Primary Display to choose your primary display.The primary display is the one with the top bar, and where the Activities overview is shown.

You can also select the orientation, resolution or scale, and refresh rate to apply additional settings.

Click Apply when you’re done configuring.

The new settings will be applied for 20 seconds before reverting back. That way, if you cannot see anything with the new settings, your old settings will be automatically restored.

If you are happy with the new settings, click Keep Changes.

With more than two screens, Join Displays is the only mode available.

Press the button for the display that you would like to configure. Drag the screens to the desired relative positions.

Save your changes and exit.


This post showed you how to setup additional monitor to Ubuntu. If you find any error above, please use the comment form below to report.

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  1. What if I don’t see 2 or more monitors in display panel? My 2nd monitor is plugged in and working fine on windows.

  2. Hi I can see the above screen when try to set up additional screen but display mode doesn’t show on think pad when I try to add additional screen . Please help me urgent as I tried so many times and invested hrs to resolve this but couldn’t be able to resolve so far .

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