How to Connect Laptop to Projector with USB

Projectors of the digital type are mostly used for business meeting presentations, particularly with Microsoft PowerPoint and the like. They’re also used for home entertainment purposes. A projector comes in handy whether it’s used for presentations or for movie viewing.

With that said, do you know How to connect a Laptop to a Projector with USB?

You may also like: Learn How to Connect to a Projector

Check USB Compatibility

The thing about USB connections is that it sometimes works and it sometimes doesn’t depend on how the laptop interprets the connection. Sometimes, it views it as a charger. Other times, it views it as a valid video processing connection.

There are a couple of PCs that can connect to your projector using a USB cable, whether it’s USB-A or USB-C. Other projectors mostly recognize the connection as a means of recharging the battery and won’t result in the laptop recognizing the projector as a display device.

Your projector might or might work with a USB connection depending on its USB port type and how your computer reads the connection (for charging, for file exchange, or for video processing).

Check USB Compatibility

USB Benefits and Drawbacks

Unlike with VGA, you can hook your USB-compatible projector to your laptop while both of them are turned on. You won’t have to power cycle in order to have the projector or laptop recognize the connection. Just hook them up while they’re both turned on and you’re good to go.

To be more specific, just plug one end of the USB cable on the projector’s USB port then plug the other end on the notebook PC’s USB port. Click “OK” or “Agree” if you see a dialog box appear on your laptop’s screen. Usually, it’s a notification that a new device has been connected to your laptop.

Why Some USB Connections Don’t Work

Older computers will require you to install drivers to your laptop in order to make the projector work. They’re either available on a floppy disk (obsolete), CD/DVD (rare nowadays), or USB flash drive (ironic). Computers nowadays automatically get drivers off of the Internet.

If you have an older projector with a driver, it’s okay to hook your projector up on your newer laptop and have the laptop search its drivers without you using its floppy disk or CD/DVD to install its drivers (especially if it lacks a floppy or CD/DVD drive).

USB vs. VGA vs. HDMI

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard works on a variety of peripherals ranging from projectors to printers as well as optical mouse and keyboard input devices. However, for the most part, a projector is a display device. PC display devices use Video Graphics Array (VGA) ports to work.

USB ports on projectors mainly either connects with Flash drives, external hard disk drives, smartphones, and other storage media to play video or acts as a charger to battery-powered mobile devices. It’s better to use High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cables instead.

Use an HDMI Cable Instead of the USB Cable

The current A/V standard for the 2020s or 21st Century is HDMI. HDMI is better for high-definition video transmission compared to USB, which is more of a data transfer standard for storage media nowadays.

This is because HDMI ports and cables can handle simultaneous uncompressed video and audio transmission. It’s also backward compatible from HDMI 1.0 to HDMI 2.1 and everything in between. It’s even compatible with DVI tech.

HDMI vs. VGA Connections

Most projectors nowadays have an HDMI input port. Many Windows PCs have an HDMI output port, which you can connect directly to the projector without worrying about whether or not your USB ports result in a video connection or battery recharging connection.

00 VGA vs HDMI

The previous standard for PCs was VGA. Many projectors have VGA, HDMI, and USB to cover all bases. For Macintosh computers or macOS devices, you’ll likely need a converter in light of how Apple’s cable standards have changed drastically.

Read more: VGA vs. HDMI: How Do They Compare?

Connect to a Projector to a Computer Using VGA

VGA was the default but is still present in many a projector as an alternative to HDMI. Made back in 1987 for the IBM PS/2 computers, you can use it as an alternative to USB connections too in case there’s no USB or the USB only accepts connections from projectors for recharging purposes.

Use a standard VGA cable in order to connect both your computer and your projector together, since VGA is the more proven transmission method. Otherwise, get an HDMI or DVI converter to act as a bridge for that VGA port.

For Windows Users

When setting up USB, HDMI, or VGA on your Windows machine, you should first open the Start Menu then click Settings. Go to System, then Display, and then Advanced Settings. The second screen should show your projector.

Further reading: How to Connect Laptop/PC/Windows to Projector

Your projector should show your laptop’s user interface screen. Otherwise, click the Detect option. Choose the Duplicate Displays option in order to allow projector mirroring of your laptop monitor. From there, click Apply. You’re good to go.

For macOS Users

MacBooks use USB-C or Type-C dongles for conversion purposes. They might have HSMI output as a feature. After matching your converter to your notebook PC’s output type, link it to the projector via an HDMI cable.

Further reading: How to Connect iMac/Macbook to Projector

When setting up USB, HDMI, or VGA on your Macintosh machine or MacBook laptop, select the Apple icon found on the top left corner of your screen. Afterwards, select System Preferences in order to bring up the Select Displays screen. From there, move to Arrangement.

There’s a box labeled as Mirror Displays. Click that. Afterwards, if there are any issues, restart the projector. This might make your Apple computer recognize it. HDMI cables can end up not working if they’re damaged, so make sure you have a premium-grade HDMI cable then store it in a safe place.

In Summary

You can connect your projector via USB but it depends on the projector and the PC. Some can only exclusively use their VGA or HDMI connection, with the USB merely there to power up certain splitters and adapters.

A laptop and a mini projector can help you take your presentations from place to place in a mobile manner. You can also watch TV shows and films on the go. Many projectors of the digital variety use the VGA cable instead of the USB cable to connect to PCs. Is it even possible to connect using a USB?


  1. Ian Buckley, “How To Connect A Projector To A Windows Or Mac Computer“, Online Tech Tips, August 19, 2020
  2. Nicole Vulcan, “How to Hook Up a Projector to a Laptop via USB“,, Retrieved March 21, 2021


James Core

I love my projector system and I am here to help you find the right projector for your needs.

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