Hardware Tips for Working from Home

If you have a CSCC supplied "One Device" kit. See the article about setting that up first: One Device: Kit Setup


Laptop Hardware Tips


Keyboard and Mouse

Tired of using the small laptop keyboard and trackpad? You can connect a full sized keyboard and mouse. There are a few ways you can do it, read more by clicking the headings below: 

You can get a keyboard and mouse with USB cables that connect to your computer.

     Pros: Least expensive option. No batteries. Easy setup.

     Cons: Extra wires to deal with.
 Uses two USB ports on your laptop.

To use, plug the keyboard and mouse cables into USB ports on your laptop.

You can get a wireless keyboard and mouse that uses a small USB receiver that you plug into your laptop.

     Pros: No wires to deal with. Long battery life. Easy setup. Only uses one USB port.

     Cons: Slightly more expensive option than wired. Requires AA or AAA batteries, depending on model. You have to keep track of that tiny receiver for ihe keyboard and mouse to work.

To use, put batteries in the mouse and keyboard and plug the USB receiver into your laptop.

If your keyboard and mouse have extra buttons for other functions, you may need to download a driver to help them work properly with your computer. Go to the manufacturer's website to download the drivers and install them on your computer.

You can get a wireless bluetooth keyboard and mouse

     Pros: Doesn't use up USB ports. No wires to deal with. No USB receiver to loose. Some types use built in rechargeable batteries that last longer than AA or AAA.

     Cons: Some types use AA or AAA batteries, which need to be changed out more often than using USB receiver. Bluetooth setup requires a few more steps.

To use, put batteries in the keyboard and mouse and turn them on. Then, using the bluetooth setup on your computer, follow the steps to connect.



Tired of having only the small laptop screen? Connect to an External Monitor. 

The most common types you will find on your monitor are VGA, DVI, HDMIDisplayPort, and USB-C.

1. Determine what video ports are available on your monitor.

2. See what video ports are available on your laptop. For Mac Laptops, see the section on Mac Laptop Ports below.
See if there are any matching ports on your laptop, so you can get that type of cable. (For example, if they both have an HDMI port, you would get an HDMI cable to connect those ports.)

If there are no matching ports, you can get an adapter to go from one video type to another. However, you want to try to avoid doing this because it can degrade the quality of the video signal.

In addition to these types of video ports, there are many more, less common types. For Macs, see section on Mac Laptop Ports below. Otherwise, check out this website for details on other types.

If you have an Apple laptop, there is an extra step.  Apple puts "mini" ports on their laptops so it takes up less room, but this means you'll need a converter.

In order to determine what type of converter you need, first, you'll need to check what type of video port it has, Mini-Display or Mini-DVI.

Then get an adapter that can connect to your monitor port. For example, if you have an HDMI port on your monitor, and a Mini-Display port on your laptop, you would need a Mini-Display to HDMI converter and an HDMI cable.



Docks can be used to connect multiple monitors and other peripherals to your laptop.

1. Plug the dock into a power source using the included power cable.

2. Use the USB-C cable to connect your laptop to the dock.

3. The ThinkPad docks provided by CSCC have DisplayPort and HDMI ports than can be used to connect a monitor.

The most common types you will find on your monitor are VGA, DVI, HDMIDisplayPort, and USB-C.

1. Determine what video ports are available on your monitor.

2. Connect the monitor to your dock.

* See the section above about connecting monitors for more info on cables and converters.




Video Conferencing Hardware



A lot of computers have built in speakers and microphones, but using these can lead to an echo and poor quality of sound. Sound quality improves greatly if you use a headset.

Analog headsets - you may have a headset with 3.5 mm audio cables, that require little setup other than plugging them in properly.

To use 3.5 mm audio, look to see if your computer has one port or two (when there are two, the cables and ports are usually pink for microphone or input and green for speaker or output). If your headset has a different number of cables than your computer, you may need to get an adapter to make it work properly.

  • If your computer has one port, but your headset has two cables, you need to combine them. (Make sure the splitter you get says 4-pole or TRRS to be sure it can carry audio in and out.)

  • If your computer has two ports, but your headset has one, you need to split them. (Make sure the splitter you get says 4-pole or TRRS to be sure it can carry audio in and out.)


USB headsets are Plug & Play - which means when you plug the cable into a USB port on your computer, it should automatically recognize it. If you have any issues, see the setup and troubleshooting sections below.basic headset

  1. Right click on the audio icon in the Taskbar, then select Sounds.

  2. In the Playback tab, right click on your headset, then choose Set as Default Communication Device.

  1. Go to Apple menu > System Preferences, and click on Sound.

  2. Click on the Output tab and select your Headset, and check the Output volume at the bottom of this tab and make sure it is not muted, and turned up to a reasonable level.

    The output menu is the middle tab on top, the selection field below will show the brand and model of your headset.
  3. Click on the Input tab and select your Headset as the input (or mic) the computer will listen to.


After following the setup steps above, if you are experiencing issues, try the following: 

  1. Unplug the headset from the computer's USB port and shut down the computer (don't just restart) and then turn it back on.
  2. Plug the headset directly into the computer and not into a hub or docking station. If you are using a desktop, plug your headset into a rear USB port.

Here are some resources for troubleshooting application specific issues:



Most laptops have built in webcams, but if yours doesn't, or if you are on a desktop, you may want to get a webcam to be able to participate in video conferencing.
basic webcam

Plug in the camera to your computer's USB port. Windows will try to find and install the appropriate driver. If Windows fails to find the driver, go to the camera manufacturer's website to manually download and install the driver.

To use the camera within other apps, select the Start  button, select Settings  > Privacy > Camera, and then turn on Let apps use my camera. - From there, turn on each of the listed apps where you want to use the camera.

Plug in the camera to your computer's USB port. If software is needed to get the camera to work, go to the camera manufacturer's website to manually download and install the driver.

System Preferences does not have an option for setting Camera preferences system wide. Instead, make sure you choose your camera as the video option in any video-capable app you are using.



Internet Hardware


Wi-Fi (Wireless Internet) Adapter

If you have a computer that doesn't have built-in wireless internet capability, you can get a USB Wi-Fi adapter so your computer can connect to your wireless Internet. A couple of things to note: Wi-Fi connections are slower than wired, and the further your computer is from the router, the lower your connection speed will be.

wi-fi adapter with antenna

To use, first install the software for the wireless adapter from the provided CD, if there is one, or from the manufacturer's website.

Then plug in the adapter to a USB port on your computer.

Once set up, it will function in the same way as built-in Wi-Fi.


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Article ID: 423
Tue 7/21/20 9:51 AM
Mon 12/13/21 3:03 PM