Trouble starting/rebooting my laptop – with a cracked screen

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Thread Starter
Feb 6, 2018
I am using an Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-571-38WL) laptop with Windows 10.
First some background. My laptop screen was cracked when my earphones were crushed between the keyboard and screen as I closed it. Although the keyboard part was undamaged, the display on the laptop screen now only shows some flickering stripes with a black smudge in the middle.
I connected the laptop to an Acer LCD screen using a regular cable through the "screen socket". It seems that the display can only be switched to the secondary screen after Windows have loaded. When you turn the laptop on, you still can't make anything out on the laptop screen - however, because I knew the "startup sequence" I could still get it to load Windows and get to my desktop menu, then switched over to the secondary screen - In other words, when I turned the laptop on (without being able to see anything on the laptop screen), I knew to wait for the "Password Screen" to come up, enter my password and then wait for the desktop page to load and then use Fn+F5 to switch over to the secondary screen. Basically working blind until I could switch to the secondary screen. Apparently, you can only use Fn+F5 to switch to the second monitor after Windows has loaded, but I am not sure.
Now for my problem. I recently had to restart my laptop to install updates for Windows 10. The laptop shut down fine as I could still see on the second monitor (the usual message of Windows is updating, don't switch your unit off).
When the laptop switched back on I was in the "dark" again with the cracked laptop screen doing its normal flickering thing. I gave it some time to install whatever it had to (or so I thought) and then continued with my normal "startup sequins" - pressing enter, typed my password and waited a while thinking it is loading the desktop menu. When I used Fn+F5 to switch to the second monitor nothing happened though. I got impassioned and pressed the power button to shut the laptop down and restart again, but it looks like I have messed up something. As I could not see what the laptop was doing, I fear I have interrupted the update process that was still running when the laptop was turned off.
Now when I turn the laptop on, you can see something is happening behind the cracked screen but it is not the normal startup and I have no idea what it is. I assume there are some options you can select to get Windows to load or continue with the update or something in that line. The problem is that it is impossible to make anything out on the laptop screen and you can only switch to the second monitor once Windows have loaded (unless there is a way to get the laptop to display on the second monitor before Windows load as Fn+F5 don't seems to work before then).
I have removed the battery and power cable, replaced it, turned the laptop back on and left it for hours, thinking it would complete the update process, but nothing.
I have fiddled around with the arrow keys and then pressed enter, hoping that by chance I will pick the right option but no luck. What I did notice was that some "arrow key combinations" makes the screen flicker differently, some combinations shuts the laptop down or restart it and others have no effect. So, I assume there is some selection menu that I just can't see.
Is there a way to fix this? I am currently based in a rural area with the nearest computer/IT shop literally hundreds of miles away.
Keeping in mind that I am working in the "blind" and have no idea what is displayed on the cracked screen, I would appreciate advice on how to:
A) make the laptop display on the secondary screen from the start up so I can see what is going on; or
B) use the correct arrow key sequence to get Windows to load (or any other way to load Windows) in order to display on the secondary screen;
C) get any clever or alternative relieve for this dilemma.


Oct 7, 2017
Your best option is to connect an external monitor to the laptop. If you can get to the Sign in screen then you can try Windows Key + P P to switch the external monitor.
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