Dual monitor setups are quite common amongst graphic designers, programmers, or power users that want to get more things done at once. But the extensive availability of affordable and high quality monitors gave way to the rise of dual monitor and even multiple monitor setups for various computer users, especially heavy gamers.
If you have a video card that has multiple ports for monitors, plugging each monitor in should be enough to enjoy your extra screen space. But if you want to fine-tune your multi-monitor configuration, you have to rely on the software end of things. Depending on your needs, you may need specific dual monitor software.
Here are your options…
The Operating System
Operating systems like Windows 7 actually
give you access to basic multi-monitor configuration options so you won't have
to install any extra software.
You may need to install the latest video card or GPU drivers if you run into issues. Once you have successfully installed those drivers, right-click your desktop and click "Screen Resolution" to see a dialog where you can see a visual representation of your screens. The idea is to drag the boxes in such a way to resemble your physical setup so it is easier to move windows and your cursor from one monitor to the other monitor.
You can set basic options like specifying the primary monitor, rotating screens, setting resolutions, and extending or cloning screens.
Dual Monitor Software Applications
Once you are satisfied with your operating system options, you will notice that the taskbar is only located in your main monitor. The upcoming Windows 8 solves this issue but for the meantime, you have to install a third-party application like UltraMon or Display Fusion.
An extended taskbar means that you can better contain your applications to a single monitor. For instance, if you prefer to keep your favorite Internet browser on your left screen while you want to use your favorite word processor on another screen, you can put the browser in your left monitor's taskbar no matter what your primary monitor is. This way, it is easy to minimize or restore the application.
Since it is possible to move windows to different screens, it also helps if there was a faster way to do it. Programs like UltraMon provide shortcuts to easily send windows to the monitor of your choice. This is pretty useful if you have more than two monitors connected.
UltraMon is a commercial application made for Windows users with dual and multiple display set up. This program adds tons of functional tweaks and options for multi-display computers. One of its many great features is the smart taskbar, a feature that extends an active taskbar throughout the multiple monitors and allows users to manage applications easier. UltraMon also comes with hotkeys for quick, application positioning, presentation option like mirroring of main monitor to secondary monitors, and convenient way to move windows between desktops, unified wallpapers and screen savers that stretch throughout the display and other great features and functionalities that allow users to take full advantage of multiple monitor setup.
Display Fusion is also a favorite computer utility tool and dual monitor software for powering up multiple monitor display computers. It comes with organized tabbed menus that are nicely designed for ease of use. Hotkey combinations can be configured for different tasks, such as spanning a specific window throughout the monitors, resizing and moving windows at the center monitor, modifying how items are dragged from one screen to another, synchronizing wallpaper and screensaver across all monitors, manage icons and wallpapers and many other handy Windows settings.
The newest version of DisplayFusion includes new cool and very convenient features like monitor-splitting to make smaller virtual monitors from a large display (at the Monitor configuration Window), toggle Windows snapping, keep mouse cursor (cursor wraps from one edge back to the opposite edge), and Frame Windows 8 Metro Application (creates a window for the Metro app and allows you to use it on the normal desktop). This program boasts a Flickr integration (something you can’t find in UltraMon), allowing you to search this stock image site for images to use for your wallpapers collection right within the app.
Assigning a wallpaper to your multi-monitor setup is also tricky unless you are satisfied with the same image on all screens. If not, you have to manually fuse multiple wallpapers to form a long wallpaper which is tedious and may not handle single-screen setups. Using a specific dual monitor software makes it easier because you can specify different wallpaper files for each screen even if the screen resolutions are not the same. You can do the same for assigning different screensavers.
You might get more features as well depending on the software you choose. Future versions may even provide more functionality so it always helps to visit the official homepages of these programs and find out all of the features offered. Most of these programs cost money and it is not recommended to purchase multiple solutions. Try the trial version if available and go for the purchase if you like the added features.
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