Connecting to a Projector/Display

  • Every Michigan Engineering classroom is equipped with a video projector or large display capable of showing content from an instructor-supplied device (laptop, tablet, etc.).
  • In addition, the audio capability is provided so that any sound or music from the device can be played over the speakers installed in the classroom.
  • The instructions below cover the basics of connecting to these systems with a laptop or other device.

Classroom lecture

All CAEN-supported Michigan Engineering classrooms (including reservable CAEN computer labs) contain display capabilities, consisting of at least one projector or large LED monitor. The number of projectors and their brightness (ranging from 3000-10000 Lumens) varies depending on the size and needs of the room.

Supported Connections

Michigan Engineering classrooms include several methods of connecting your laptop or tablet device to the projector. Connection methods found in the classrooms include:

  • HDMI
  • VGA, with a separate headphone-style audio cable for sound
  • AirPlay wireless (Apple TV)

Note: Adapter cables are not provided in classrooms. There are many wired connection standards, and most can be adapted to work with HDMI or VGA. If your device does not have a compatible connector for the room you are in, you will need to supply your own adapter if you want to connect it using a wired connection. For examples of the various adapters, you might need for the ports on a device, refer to our Connectors and Adapters page.

Using the Projector, Wired Connection – Step by Step

  1. Select Laptop (or Laptop 1 or Laptop 2 if there are multiple connections) on the touchscreen panel interface in the classroom to turn on the projector. Note that the projector will need a moment to warm up before any image is displayed (usually 30 seconds or less).
  2. Connect the HDMI or VGA cable to your laptop. If there are two Laptop connections, use the cable labeled accordingly. If your laptop requires an adapter to connect to the cable, connect your adapter to the cable in the room first, and then connect the adapter to your laptop (see below for more information).
  3. Turn on or wake up your computer if it was not already on. Note that it is recommended to bring your AC power adapter for your laptop and keep it plugged in during your presentation. Otherwise, the laptop may go into sleep or power save mode unexpectedly.
  4. For the best image quality, we suggest you check the resolution that your laptop is sending to the projector. Most projectors will scale almost any resolution to fit the screen, but the clarity of the image will be best when the projector is running at its native resolution.

Using the Projector, Wireless (AirPlay/Apple TV) Connection – Step by Step

Instructors using an Apple device (laptop, iPad, iPhone):

  1. Make sure your device is connected to the MWireless network (or MGuest network if you are a guest lecturer).
  2. Select Apple TV on the touchscreen panel.
  3. Tap the Screen Mirroring menu on your device and then select the room’s Apple TV from the list.
  4. Enter the passcode shown on the projector screen to connect to Apple TV and begin sharing your screen.

Faculty instructors using a Windows PC (or other non-Apple device) can connect to Apple TV using the same method as Apple users, but must first launch the AirParrot application. Trial versions are available at, and you may also contact CAEN for assistance with obtaining a license.

Display Resolution

Current classroom projectors use 1920 x 1200 as the native resolution. Rooms with a higher, widescreen resolution are indicated as “(HD)” on the List of All Classrooms page. If offered a choice of refresh rates, select 60 Hz. The resolution setting can be changed on your laptop by following the steps below.

For Windows Users:

Right-click on an empty part of the desktop and select Properties in the pop-up menu.

  1. Select the Settings tab, and in the screen resolution box, drag the bar until the desired resolution can be seen below it.
  2. Finish by selecting OK.

For Mac OS X users:

  1. Under the Apple menu, select System Preferences.
  2. On the Hardware row, select the Displays preference icon.
  3. Select the desired resolution setting.
  4. For best results, set the refresh rate to 60 Hz.

In almost all cases, the projector should now display what you see on your computer screen. If not, follow the instructions below.


Check the Projector Source

If you see a blue screen and/or “No Signal” message, verify that the proper input source is selected on the touchscreen panel. Touch the Laptop source. If the Laptop source is already selected, select a different source (or Off, if no other source is available) and then select the Laptop source again. If this does not solve the problem when doing computer projection, make sure your laptop is configured to output compatible video. The native resolution of the projector is 1920 x 1200. For the best quality image, set your laptop to output video at this resolution, and (if you have the option) select 60 Hz as the refresh rate. Doing this helps to eliminate black bars, stretched images, or even the possibility of no slides showing up at all. Other resolutions may work, but if you experience problems try changing to the projector’s native resolution.

Verify the Laptop is Outputting Video

If the projector is on the correct source but the image still is not appearing, then check that the laptop is configured to output video. To save power, most laptops turn off the external VGA port when nothing is connected. The procedure to turn it on depends on the laptop model, so you may have to check your laptop’s manual. Below are some common procedures for activating the external VGA port on a laptop.

For PC users:

If you get an image on the laptop screen but not on the projector, check the following:

  1. On your laptop’s keyboard, find the key marked “FUNCTION” or “FN” (usually on the lower left corner of the keyboard).
  2. Then, search for a key that has either the letters “LCD/CRT” or a little monitor icon. Most often, it will be the F8 key.
    Press and hold the FUNCTION key while pressing the LCD/CRT key that you located before. Each time this combination is pressed, the laptop should toggle the screen image through a cycle like this: Image on Laptop Screen >> Image on Projector >> Image on Both

For Mac OS X users:

Macs don’t use the keyboard controls that PCs do but instead use a software control panel. If you don’t get an image on the projector, try the following:

  1. Make sure to plug in the adapter cable to the room’s VGA cable first, and then plug the adapter into your laptop. If you did it in the wrong order, simply unplug the adapter from your laptop, wait a few moments, and plug it back in. Alternatively, you can choose “Detect Displays” from System Preferences >> Displays.
  2. Options such as display mirroring can be adjusted in System Preferences >> Displays. You may also find it useful to check the box to “Show displays in menu bar”, which will add a handy displays menu on the top-right of the menu bar.