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Laptop Screen Not Working but External Monitor Does | 6 Simple Steps to Fix This Issue

So, your laptop screen is not working but the external monitor does? That is never a good thing.

It means that your graphics card driver or monitor is bad, your LCD backlight bulbs have broken, etc. But after reading this guide, you’ll be able to diagnose and fix this problem in 10 minutes or less.

Key Takeaways

  • If your laptop screen is not working, but the external monitor is functional, you should know that this is a regular issue with laptops.
  • Contact the company that sold or built your laptop for repair or assistance if you are unable to fix it yourself or are unwilling to take the chance of nullifying your warranty by disassembling your computer.
  • A laptop's screen may not function due to a problem with your graphics drivers, but an external monitor works just fine.
  • Long bulbs on a laptop or desktop computer's screen display images, films, etc. When these lights ultimately fail, the computer's display may become dim or nearly dark.

Laptop Screen Won’t Turn On But Works With External Monitor

It is a common problem in laptops; your laptop screen is not working, but the external monitor does.

Laptops are important and valuable to many people. In some cases, they serve as a source of entertainment, but it is more than just that for others.

Laptops can hold data that could range from personal photos or documents needed for work purposes - so when the laptop does not boot up properly, panic may set in because it means your device cannot do what you need it to.

There are many reasons why there is no signal to a monitor, but there's almost always an easy fix if it still falls under your warranty.

connect monitor and a laptop

Contact your Retailer if Laptop is Still Under Warranty

 If you can't figure out how to repair it yourself or aren't willing to risk voiding your warranty by taking apart your computer, contact whoever sold/manufactured your laptop for repair or help.

The manufacturer will get you replacement parts as soon as possible, and you will avoid incurring any fees from third-party service providers who may charge more than what was estimated before completing repairs.

Fix The Problem Yourself

If your warranty has expired, the first thing you should do before you do anything else is to check whether the problem is just with the laptop display or with the laptop. For that, connect your laptop with an external monitor (see also external monitors for MacBook Air).

If your laptop display isn't working, but you can see it on an external monitor, the problem is with your laptop's screen and not the laptop connection. If this is the case, then start to diagnose why there might be a disconnection between your computer and its screen (see also 'How to Fix Laptop Screens').

What Can Cause a Laptop Screen Not to Display but External Monitor Does

A Problem with The LCD Display Back Light

One of the most frustrating problems with a computer or laptop is when an LCD monitor's light bulb burns out. It can happen for many reasons, such as being dropped or bumped on its screen, exposure to heat, improper use in environments that cause dust accumulation over time, etc.

 There will be no picture displayed when this happens because backlights allow images to display correctly on the screen or external monitor.

Laptop Screen Damage

A laptop can drop off the bed during sleep or slide off the table when you get up from the chair. Such accidents cause physical damage to the screen or other laptop components and may also affect your laptop’s display.

 Physical damage to any component of the laptop screen or monitor can make it dysfunctional. In the event that your laptop screen has been damaged, you might be able to make repairs yourself. However, if it is extensive damage, a professional will need to come in and take care of things for you.

Corrupted Graphics Drivers

A problem with your graphics drivers can lead to a laptop's screen not working, but an external monitor does just fine. The graphics card or simply known as a video card, is a special device integrated with computer hardware whose purpose is to display images on your monitor.

A graphics driver is software that communicates between hardware and software on your computer's motherboard.

To fix this issue, all you have to do is update the display driver.

gaming monitor looks

How to fix Laptop Screen Not Working but External Monitor Does


If you're experiencing a laptop black screen issue, try plugging in an external monitor. If the external monitor does work and yet your laptop is still having issues with its display, it could be that something's gone wrong with the LCD or cables inside of it.

1.    Restart Your Laptop

Restart your laptop. The laptop screen is not working, but the external monitor does can be caused by operating system issues such as windows 8, 10, etc.

Restarting is a simple process that will fix any conflict you are having with your operating system and may even help if there was damage when installing new software or drivers. After restarting your laptop, check if the monitor works.

Try this first before resorting to a more complex solution, such as reformatting or reinstalling Windows on the machine.

Check the Brightness of the Display

If your laptop is being too dim, turn up the brightness. Unfortunately, many laptops let you reduce screen or monitor brightness to basically nothing, so it's worth trying this first before getting anything else fixed, as sometimes a simple adjustment can make all the difference.

If the above processes do not fix your problem, try the steps below.

a person working on laptop

2.    Remove the Battery of your Laptop

The laptop screen has gone black, and you're not sure how to fix it. No worries. Follow these steps:


  1. Remove the battery from your laptop (you may need a screwdriver).
  2. Unplug any power cords or outlets that are plugged into your device.
  3. Hold down the power button for at least 30 seconds so all of its static electricity can be released out; this will get rid of some possible problems with charging issues etc.
  4. Plugin again the power cord.
  5. Try watching your charger's lights while plugging the power cord in if necessary, then turn on your device. This should solve the problem of monitor laptop not working.
laptop battery

3.    Fix Broken Laptop Display

A computer screen can be severely damaged by dropping it. The shock and impact of the fall may crack the screen or the hinge, and you will need to get your laptop repaired immediately. If the drop is hard enough, it may even damage other internal parts of your laptop, like the light bulbs, screen cable, memory, etc.

Check the screen cable which connects the screen to the motherboard. If this cable is broken, you will not be able to see anything on your computer display. The screen will not work properly because the signal is not sent to it correctly.

Fix the Screen Cables

Broken laptop screens are often fixable with the replacement of screen cables and other easily replaceable components, unlike a broken motherboard which is typically irreparable for most people who lack technical knowledge in computer fixing.

Take The Laptop to A Repair Shop

You need to take your broken laptop screen to a professional. This is because taking risks when dealing with devices that store sensitive data is not a smart idea. Do not open your laptop if you are not an expert in dealing with these devices.

Most laptops come with either a one- or two-year warranty that covers defects. If the warranty has expired, taking your laptop to the repair shop is your best option and will surely fix the problem of the laptop screen not working, but an external monitor does. The service specialist will be able to replace the laptop display parts and components that were damaged.

laptop hardware

On the off chance that the screen repair is not worth the cost, why not consider keeping your laptop but upgrade the screen to a monitor with eyecare technology, a monitor with speakers (even more value for money) or a vertical monitor?

4.    Replace Light Bulbs

A desktop computer and a laptop screen have long bulbs that help display images, videos, etc. These lights burn out eventually, which can cause the computer’s picture to dim almost completely black.

If this happens, there are many things you could do, from replacing just the lightbulbs to buying an entirely new LCD monitor or screen altogether, depending on how much of a problem these issues pose for you personally. This will solve the problem of the laptop screen not working, but the external monitor does.

Some Disassembly Required

You need to disassemble your laptop in order to remove the broken backlight bulb and replace it with the new one. Doing this will fix any dim problems or no light coming from the LCD panel.

Also, make sure that you have a disconnected battery and power supply because both the inverter board and electrical components should not be active during this process. Check too that everything around has been cleared away, so nothing gets hurt accidentally.

broken light

5.    Update Display Drivers

Updating display drivers can solve the laptop screen not working, but the external monitor does. A corrupted graphics driver will cause your laptop monitor or screen not to show anything.

As I explained before, the graphics driver is the software that coordinates your monitor, operating systems, and other components or programs to display images on the screen. If this important program starts to malfunction or stop working properly over time, it can lead to some serious complications such as laptop screen or monitor not working.

Download and install the latest graphics drivers for your operating system, such as Windows 10 and check if the monitor works. The laptop screen or monitor should work if a corrupt graphics card caused the problem.

keyboard button

6.    Replace your Laptop Display

If you have tried all the solutions that I have given here but your laptop screen is not working, but the external monitor does, it needs replacing. These are other signs that will require you to replace your laptop display or monitor;

  • There are any large black bars at the top or bottom of your laptop’s monitor
  • Your laptop display has holes across its surface that make viewing difficult
  • Your laptop monitor has colors bleeding into each other along edges
  • A Cracked screen also indicates a need for replacement because it is typically beyond repair.
a person working on laptop
About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

5 thoughts on “Laptop Screen Not Working but External Monitor Does | 6 Simple Steps to Fix This Issue”

  1. Before to mention all the hardware problem you should be discussing about setting, someone like me have messed with the setting so how to fix it?

  2. Important to note: If the screen also isn’t showing anything BEFORE the OS loads (whether Windows, Linux, or Mac OS), then it’s not a corrupted driver. BIOS doesn’t need any drivers to display text or vendor logo as it boots up.

    • What might it be then? I’m getting nothing. I can use my external monitor without issue but the laptop screen just barely glows and is black. Every once in awhile I’ll get something trying to flicker on but nothing long lasting.


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