There are a few things you can do to simplify your screen setup if you’re using two or more displays. A dual monitor setup allows you more room to get things done, whether you’re working or playing hard. You can write a document while referencing web pages on the other, or play a game while chatting in Discord on the other. But don’t just plug in a second monitor and call it a day, these pointers can help you make the most of your dual monitor setup.
Make the displays look good together.
If your monitors are the same make and model, you should possibly skip this section—Windows can automatically stretch your desktop horizontally once you plug them both in. Simply align each monitor’s stand so that they perfectly line up, and you’re ready to go.
If you have two separate monitors, however, you may need to put in a little more effort to get them to work together. For eg, maybe you’re using your laptop alongside an external display, or maybe you have one 4K monitor next to a 1080p monitor. This can trigger some strange behaviour, but it’s simple to fix: simply right-click the desktop and select Display Settings.
Click and drag the rectangles under Select and rearrange displays to match the monitors’ orientation on your desktop; for example, if one is slightly lower than the other. When you switch your cursor to the left, it will stay in the same place on the left display rather than jumping up and down. It’s possible that you’ll have to do some trial and error to get them to line up properly.
Change the resolution and scaling of each display by scrolling down to the Scale and layout portion. If one monitor is 4K and the other is 1080p, you can set each monitor to its native resolution while scaling the higher-resolution monitor to make your windows appear the same size on both. (You can also do this here if you want to set up a display in portrait mode.)
If you want to go even further, you can change the brightness and colour of each monitor’s built-in settings to make them fit as similarly as possible. (If your monitor supports programme controls, an app like ClickMonitorDDC will make this a little easier.) After you’ve tweaked all of these settings, your monitors should be much more aligned, making moving windows between them much simpler and more fun.
Your Taskbar is ineffective – Tweak It
Windows 10 extends the taskbar to both displays by default, which can be useful—though you can configure it further to your liking. Select Taskbar Settings from the context menu when you right-click on the taskbar. There are several useful choices here, but scroll down to the Multiple Displays section to find what we’re looking for.
The first choice disables the taskbar on your secondary monitor. This is how I like to use different displays because it centralises all of my shortcuts.
If you keep it extended through both monitors, you can select where individual icons appear: on both monitors, on the main taskbar and the taskbar where that app’s window is open, or only on the app’s active monitor. You can also select whether or not the taskbar buttons should have labels, as in Windows XP.
Check out: How To Make A Computer Faster
Look for wallpapers that are super-wide.
Although fancy wallpapers aren’t going to boost your productivity, they are one of the most appealing aspects of having multiple monitors, so we had to include them. While most wallpaper sites offer multi-monitor options, there are a few sites that specialise in super big wallpapers, such as Dual Monitor setup Backgrounds, WallpaperFusion, and subreddits like /r/multiwall.
Right-click the desktop and select Personalize once you’ve found a wallpaper (or set of wallpapers) you want. To fill the space across all of your displays, go to the picture or folder in question and select Span.
Examine The Shortcuts
The ability to “dock” windows to the edges of each display, making it easy to view loads of windows at once, is the beauty of multiple monitors—especially when compared to ultrawide and superwide monitors. Although you can still drag and rotate your windows with the cursor, it’s inconvenient and time-consuming. As a result, Windows 10 has a few useful shortcuts, such as:
- Snap the active window to the left or right side of the current display by pressing Win+Left or Win+Right. You can switch it between monitors or snap it back to its original position by pressing the keys again.
- Maximize or reduce the current window with Win+Up and Win+Down. This will also resize the window from its snapped spot if it is currently snapped.
- Switch the active window to the next display using Shift+Win+Left and Shift+Win+Right without snapping it to the side.
- Shift+Win+Up: Maximizes the window vertically, which is particularly useful if your secondary monitor lacks a taskbar.
- To eliminate distractions, press Win+Home to minimise all windows except the one you’re working on. You should click it once more to restore all of the screens.
Most of these shortcuts work even if you only have one monitor, but they become more useful when you add more monitors.
Wandering Cursor, I curse you!
When using the Nvidia Surround or AMD Eyefininity settings, you can stretch the game through all of your screens with triple monitors, a dual monitor setup doesn’t really function as well for super-wide gaming since your crosshair would be right on the monitor bezels. You can, however, game on one monitor while using the other for a walkthrough, chat window, or GPU monitor, which is very convenient.
Most games will run smoothly in this mode, but you will notice that your cursor “drifts” to the other monitor while you’re still playing. This has happened to me in a number of games, including The Witcher, Doom, and Metro: Last Light.
Thankfully, one enterprising developer set out to solve this problem with Cursor Lock, and it works flawlessly in my experience. Start the programme, check the Open Program box, and then type in the EXE file’s direction. It’ll build a new shortcut for you, and unless you Alt+Tab out of it, your cursor should remain “locked” to the game window when you launch it from that shortcut.
If that doesn’t work, the game can require some additional settings, which you can learn about in Cursor Lock’s video tutorial.
With DisplayFusion, you can do so much more with your dual monitor setup.
If you still want more after all of that, there’s a third-party tool called DisplayFusion that was created with multiple monitors in mind. You can gain more control over your wallpapers, make custom keyboard shortcuts, align windows to the edges of any display, or automatically dim the inactive monitor so you don’t get distracted with DisplayFusion running in your device tray.
Seriously, this software is jam-packed with useful features, so download the trial version and give it a shot. It has less features than the paid edition, but if you like what you see, you can purchase a $30 licence. I bought it seven years ago and have never regretted my decision.