3 Things You Can Do With Old Computer Monitors

Mihir Patkar 19-10-2016

Unused electronics are the bane of the modern life. Perfectly functional gadgets sit quietly in a corner of the store room, doing nothing. Old LCD monitors are a perfect example of that. Whether you bought a new one or switched to a laptop, what do you do with it now? Turns out, a lot.


Computer monitors are quite versatile, if you know how to use them right. For example, you can boost your productivity with a dual-monitor setup How to Be More Productive with Dual Monitors You need space for several documents, to get an overview and swiftly shift between tasks. What's true for your desk also applies to your virtual workspace. We show you how it matters. Read More . But if that’s not your style, there are plenty of other options.

From making it into a super-tiny computer or dashboard to turning it into a mirror, here are three of the coolest ways to repurpose a monitor.

Turn It Into a Dashboard or $50 PC

The Raspberry Pi is an incredible device. The more you find out about the Pi 9 Things You Wanted to Know About Raspberry Pi What is a "Raspberry Pi"? Who made it? What's the point? What can you do with it? Let's find answers for all the frequently asked questions about the Raspberry Pi. Read More , the more you think it can do anything. But at its core, don’t forget that the Pi is a tiny, low-cost, full-fledged computer. And that means your old monitor can be turned into a PC for less than $50.

Attach your old monitor to a Pi and it can be put in your kitchen as a recipe and video source. Make a Pi-based retro video game console Retro Gaming on Raspberry Pi: Understanding ROMs, RetroPie, Recalbox, and More The Raspberry Pi is ideal for playing classic video games. Here's how to get started with retro gaming on your Raspberry Pi. Read More as a treat for your kid (or the kid in you).



Perhaps the best implementation of marrying a Raspberry Pi and an old monitor is the PiClock. When one developer had free time on a Saturday afternoon, he built the wonderful gadget you see above. And like any good developer with a Pi, he made the whole thing open-source, so anyone can build their own.

The PiClock displays the time through a simple clock, the weather forecast in your area, and also a radar map. Because who doesn’t need to check a radar map at all times?

There’s a step-by-step guide for everything you need, but it’s really nothing more than the monitor, the Pi, and the power supply. A keyboard and mouse will be needed for setup, as well as an active Wi-Fi connection, but then you’re done.

When you’re using an old LCD, it might not have an HDMI port. But don’t worry, there are easy ways to connect the Pi to any monitor 5 Ways to Display Your Raspberry Pi On a Monitor Or TV Back in the 1980s and 1990s, home computers didn’t rely on dedicated monitors to display operating systems, applications and games. In those days, things were far simpler. Instead of paying extra for a monitor, the... Read More .


Hack It Into a “Your-Eyes-Only” Monitor

Sometimes, you’re working on something private in an open office, or browsing certain *cough* sites *cough* at home. You can’t have your colleagues or kids see what’s on the screen. To keep snooping eyes at bay, make a “your-eyes-only” monitor from an old one.

To anyone else, it is going to look like a blank white monitor with nothing on it. But wearing a special pair of spectacles, you’ll be able to see things on it like a regular monitor. It’s magic! Here’s what it looks like and the process:

Basically, you will be cutting out the polarizing film of the monitor. This film will then be put on a simple pair of glasses. Now your screen appears white, but the glasses can “see” the content. It’s one of the best ways to keep prying eyes out of your PC Keep Out Prying Eyes With A Computer Privacy Screen Are your co-workers paying too much attention to your display? A privacy screen can help – here are your options. Read More .

The reason you should use an old monitor is that things can go wrong. You will be disassembling and then reassembling the monitor, along with cutting out the anti-glare and polarizing films. You’ll also need to separate the polarizing film from the anti-glare one. It’s a tough process, but dimovi’s guide at Instructables is thorough and precise. Just remember, while others can’t see what’s on your screen, they can still see where your hands are.


Turn It Into a Mirror (or a Smart Mirror)

If you have a broken old LCD monitor, it can be re-purposed into a usable mirror; but if you have a working old LCD monitor, adding a Raspberry Pi can turn it into a smart magic mirror 6 Best Raspberry Pi Smart Magic Mirror Projects You Can Make These Raspberry Pi smart mirrors can tell you the time, date, weather, and more. Here's how to build a magic mirror cheaply. Read More !


The simpler of the two is the plain mirror. Instructables user MrAdventure put together a simple guide for it. Just get a screwdriver and open up your monitor. Strip out all the parts, you just need the screen. As he puts it poetically:

The LCD has several layers. Find the shiny part and make it point outwards, the better to see your beautiful face with! Now screw it back together in a few places so the frame holds all the guts in.

You can then put the screen back into the monitor case if you want a desk mirror. Otherwise, just hang this thing on a wall.


If you’ve got a little more time and are up for a more intense DIY project, then try the MirrorMirror smart mirror project. Blogger Dylan Pierce documented every step of his project to make a gorgeous smart mirror with a wooden frame.


You’ll need some additional material for this one, including a Raspberry Pi, a double-sided mirror, 2×4 wooden bars, cables and woodworking tools. If you do it right, you’ll end up with a beautiful smart mirror like the one above. Girlfriend not included, nerds.

A Few Other Ways to Repurpose

If none of these are up your alley or fit your requirements, then there are other things you can do, weirdo. Here, have a gander:

Got Any Other Ideas?

Naturally, there will be other things you can do with an old computer monitor that we haven’t thought of here. If you’ve got ideas, we’ve got ears. Let’s talk in the comments.

And for more on this, have a look at the differences between LCD and LED LCD vs. LED Monitors: What's the Difference? The differences between LCD and LED displays are subtle, which can make it difficult to decide: LCD or LED monitor? Read More .

This article was originally written by Tim Lenahan and published on July 27th, 2010.

Related topics: Computer Monitor, Recycling.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. David
    September 15, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    If you can make an old monitor into a smart mirror, would it be possible to make a smart window?

  2. Mahaveer
    July 7, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    The above mentioned ideas are very interesting. I need advice in converting my 19'' LCD monitor (viewsonic) into a digital photoframe. It has not hdmi flexibility.

  3. mud
    February 8, 2018 at 10:47 am

    thank you.,,,

    i am old and this article is amazing

  4. Manish
    July 16, 2017 at 3:23 am


    I came across above article because I was not able to see desktop icons on Pi 3.
    All the installations went fine, it first showed me chrome browser as well. But later when the Pi boots up it stops at VNC server and I cannot do anything else. Earlier at least I was getting Openbox through which I could go to command prompt. Now even that is not possible.

    I am a complete layman as far as Pi or Linux is concerned. How can first go to command prompt and how can I get GUI on Pi?

    Thanks a lot.

  5. Jenifer
    December 18, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Nice IDEAS. Now the time to upgrade your monitor. You can check latest monitor reviews here htt://

  6. JOliveira
    October 2, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    How much can a converter box cost?

  7. Nat Jay
    August 1, 2010 at 6:17 am

    One of my favorite ways of disposing off old electronics is to give them away to the local electronics school. The students and teachers there may have use for the parts that are still working (and many of them do work).

    • timmyjohnboy
      August 1, 2010 at 7:13 am

      That's an idea I hadn't thought of. Thanks for the tip!

  8. prove
    July 28, 2010 at 6:23 am

    fish tank is my favourite :) word about proper disposal of monitors - i think that people still don't do that often..They just get rid of them in simple way..throw them away...just like that. There aren't many who care about recycling nowadays

    • timmyjohnboy
      July 28, 2010 at 8:00 am

      That's too bad b/c recycling isn't all that difficult. Just make a few calls.