Windows has been offering support for multiple monitors even back in the Windows 98 days where VGA ports were still the main standard.
All that you really needed was the GPU horsepower to support multiple screens and many video cards at the time provided that support. Nowadays, multi-monitor configurations are a bit more common since there are plenty of affordable LCD displays to choose from. Many of these affordable monitors come with thin bezels, compact build and light weight so they look great when identical monitors are placed right next to them.
People use dual monitors for variety of reasons, to extend display and get bigger desktop to work on, to get most of the video card for heavy gaming, for home theater, etc. While it is quite simple to connect a second monitor to your computer, it is not always intuitive. Get a spare video cable and this page will show you how it’s done.
Add a Second Monitor to Your Windows 7 Computer
Before you start anything, make sure you have everything ready, and that includes the second monitor you want to add in your computer setup. Of course, your monitor should be compatible to your computer. Check out the specs sheet and double-check it with your computer’s settings. Here are some of the important aspects of hardware you need to look at:
New monitor models usually work with Windows 7 Operating System. If you’re planning to use an older monitor, check its OS compatibility.
Most new models of laptops and high-end monitors require upmarket video card, but it is always worth to check its compatibility with your current desktop computer’s video card. Compare the spec sheet of the monitor with the info provided in your video card by checking your computer’s settings. Go to ‘Control Panel’ > ‘Device Manager’ > ‘Display Adapters.’ Contact the customer support for the monitor if you’re still not sure.
Get the right cables. Cables may come with the monitor, but that’s not always the case. Most often than not, your computer and monitor uses DVI or VGA interface, thus, make sure they have the same kind of port. If not, then you may need an adapter to plug to the right port.
Launch the Control Panel and go to Hardware and Sound > Display > ‘Connect to an external display.’
Connect the second monitor. If there’s no dual-monitor display near the top of the screen, click “Detect.” Make sure both monitors are properly connected to their ports and power. If you’ve checked everything and still can’t find the second monitor, call your customer service provider.
Dual Monitors Windows 7
Once you are finished with the dual monitors windows setup, all you need to do is boot into Windows and set up your ideal configuration so you can work properly with your new environment. With Windows 7, this isn't very hard to do thanks to the refinements of that operating system.
Once you have plugged in the monitors and switched them on, you should be to see the default setup by simply right-clicking your desktop and going to "Screen Resolution". If you used older operating systems, you might be familiar with the numbered screens and the process works the same way. All you need to do is drag the windows that best adhere to your physical setup so you won't have problems moving the mouse cursor from one screen to the other.
Multiple displays option allows you to decide how the dual monitor (or multiple monitor) set up operates.
Extend these displays – This option extends the desktop across the two monitors. This is the best option for multi-tasking and using complex apps and programs. This option however, may take a little learning curve for first-timers. This is also a great option for home theater and gaming.
Duplicate these displays – This option shows exact same display on both monitors, which is quite handy in many situations, such as giving presentations, etc.
Show desktop online on 1 or Show desktop only on 2 – If you have your second monitor for ergonomic purposes, this is the option for you. You can turn off one monitor (usually the primary screen of your laptop) and work on the other display for more ergonomic and neck-friendly setup.
There’s also a short cut to get to ‘Multiple displays’ option of your computer. Simply press the Windows logo key + P on your keyboard.
From here you have four options, Computer only, Duplicate, Extend and Projector Only.
You also have the option to set the resolution of each monitor. Try the highest resolutions of each monitor so you have a lot of space to work with. This will also test if your computer and video card is capable of handling multiple monitors. Try launching your favorite applications and do some multitasking and see if your overall system performance is still performing. If not, you may have to take away a monitor if you have more than 2 monitors or you have to lower the screen resolution of one or more monitors so your GPU gets lighter on the resources.
No matter what your setup is, you have the option to clone your main display or extend it. Cloning might be good if the monitors are further apart where the other screen can serve as a presentation screen. Many dual screen configurations that deal with a monitor and projector can benefit from this setup. Extending the displays is good if you want to manage more stuff in the operating system without reducing the sizes of windows. For instance, you have your browser maximized on one browser while the other screen features maximized Microsoft Word document windows.
Trying these options shouldn't hurt at all and you can always use this special hot key to toggle between the modes of multiple displays. Just hold your keyboard's Windows key and press "P" to bring up the menu.
If you are not satisfied with the available Windows options, you can take your multi-monitor configuration a step further by getting Third party software applications like UltraMon and DisplayFusion. These programs can let you change the background image of each monitor and attach dedicated taskbars to make it easier to manage windows.
Things may get trickier, so make sure you do your homework and research more about the Control Panel. This is pretty much all the things you need to know for basic setup and use of dual monitor in Windows 7.
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