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Advantages and Disadvantages of Working with Multiple Screens

Business, Resources, Web Design | May 11, 2009

Two characteristics that represent most web designers are a need for productivity and a love for technology.

This desire for increased efficiency and productivity leads many designers to look to technology for methods that will improve their work flow.

One common approach for designers (and others who want to improve productivity) is to use multiple monitors. Using two or more monitors can bring a number of significant advantages to designers.

In this article we’ll present some basic pros and cons of using multiple monitors, general instructions for setting them up, as well as a showcase of workstations that feature multiple monitors.

 

Advantages of Having Multiple Screens:

With so many designers using multiple screens, there must be some pretty significant advantages. Of course, everyone works differently, so the key is finding the setup that works best for you.

1. Increased Productivity

The biggest advantage for anyone, designers and those in other professions, is an increase in productivity.

There have been a number of studies performed over the years that have attempted to calculate the change in productivity from using multiple monitors. According to a study done by the Jon Peddie Research, productivity increases an average of 42% when using multiple displays.

The Pfeiffer Report from 2005 (testing the impact of large monitors and/or multiple monitors) found that improved productivity could result in an ROI of several thousand dollars per year.

Likewise, a study conducted by the University of Utah and NEC found 10% increases in productivity and 20% reduction in errors (plus reduced stress) for test workers that were using multiple monitors.

Their test company also experienced over 600% ROI. From the report, “Both the 24-inch widescreen and the 20-inch dual screens were significantly more productive than the 20 inch single monitor… Overall in spreadsheet task, the dual 20-inch monitors performed the best with a slight lead over the 24-inch widescreeen” (see this slide show of the results). This study has been reported by the Wall Street Journal and many others. However, the report also found that productivity gains max out and eventually decline when size becomes too big.


2. Designers Often Use Multiple Programs Simultaneously

Most designers have some type of workflow that involves using multiple programs at any given time.

Maybe you’re flipping back and forth between Photoshop and Illustrator, or maybe it’s an HTML editor, Internet browser and FTP applicati0n.

Whatever the case may be, it’s very rare that a designer would only have one program open and would not be moving around at least periodically. Since using multiple programs is such a frequent occurrence for designers, having a second screen can make this juggling act much less painful and more productive.


3. Keep Email or Twitter Up on One Screen

If you’re interested in being more connected and accessible to clients or to other professionals in your network, you may find that a second screen can make this much more feasible.

While you may be using the primary screen for the bulk of your work, you could have your email or Twitter open all the time in a second browser. While this practice is normally associated with reduced productivity, using a second screen for this purpose can help you to still stay focused on your work while allowing you to quickly scan what is coming through (and respond promptly) with a minor impact on your work.


4. Works Well with Laptops and Allows for Flexibility

Many designers are working from laptops and not staying at one desk all day every day. Setting up an additional monitor is easy with most laptops now.

This allows the designer to have a home office with a dual screen set up, but still allows for flexibly as it is easy to disconnect the second monitor and take the laptop wherever you need to go. Setting it up is simple, and taking the laptop somewhere else only takes a minute.


5. Sharing Data Between Applications Can Be Easier

Not only do most designers work with multiple programs at once, but sharing data is also very common, for example copying code from one application to another, or opening an image in Dreamweaver that was created in Photoshop. All these things can be streamlined with the help of a second screen. Moving from one screen to the next is often easier than using multiple applications on one screen.


6. Using Skype While Still Having Access to Other Data

Some designers use Skype for video conferencing with clients or colleagues.

If this is the case for you, a second screen can make it easier to have a video conference and still have normal access to your screen to look at other things during the conference.

Most video conferences will involve looking at websites, mockups, or something else that will need to be seen at some point during the conference.


7. For Easier Comparison

There are a lot of aspects of a designer’s job that involve attention to detail.

Some of these areas require comparison, such as comparing different versions of a design, testing in multiple browsers, and working from one image or design to another.

In these situations it’s easier, quicker, and generally more effective to compare side-by-side using two screens rather than flipping back and forth constantly.


8. It’s Very Easy

Extending your computer to a second screen is actually very easy, although to many people it sounds like it would be more difficult or involved than it really is. If you’ve been wanting to try a dual screen set up but have been putting it off, there’s really no reason not to give it a shot.

More advanced set ups can obviously get more complicated, but a second screen is not difficult in most situations.

 

Disadvantages of Having Multiple Screens:

With all the advantages of having multiple screens, it’s only fair to also look at the potential disadvantages of having more than one screen. Although there are not many of them, they should be considered.

1. More Potential for Distractions

Probably the biggest disadvantage to having more than one screen is the added risk of distractions.

It’s easy enough to get distracted when you’re working with just one screen, and even more so when you add to it. I mentioned the possibility of using the second screen to keep your email or Twitter open all the time.

While this is potentially a good thing for communication purposes, without some resistance to distraction it could also be a productivity killer. It really depends on your workflow and your own personal preferences.


2. Potential Lack of Resources

From a technical perspective, a disadvantage is that the resources of the video card are divided between each display. Depending on your system and what programs you are running, you may notice a difference in performance.


3. Lack of Desk Space

Unfortunately, the amount of available space of a desk can easily be a hindrance when it comes to getting set up for maximum efficiency.

Fortunately, flat panel and LCD monitors take up only a fraction of the space required by monitors of the past. If space is your primary concern, see if you can rearrange your desk to make it feasible, or you could even purchase a larger desk if that is within your control.


4. Cost

If you currently only have a traditional set up, you’ll need to get an additional monitor.

While the cost has come down considerably, it is still a barrier in some situations, especially for those who are uncertain if they would even prefer working with a second screen.


5. Too Much Space

Jeff Atwood of Coding Horor calls it The Large Display Paradox. When using very large monitors you may wind up spending too much time resizing and arranging windows.

This is an issue that you won’t encounter on smaller displays where you tend to work with one maximized window at a time.

 

What You’ll Need:

Adding a second monitor is pretty straightforward, and we’ll provide some instructions here.

Adding a third (and more) gets a little more tricky and will depend on your setup (see the resources section towards the end of this post).

For adding a second monitor, if you’re working from a desktop computer, you will need a video card that provides ports for two monitors (or you’ll need to buy a second video card). For laptops you will need one port for a monitor (and the laptop screen is the other), which is included on almost all laptops from the past several years. iMacs have a port for a second monitor built-in.

 

How to Set Up a Second Monitor on Windows Vista:

1 – Connect a second monitor.

2 – Right click on the Desktop.

3 – Click on “Personalize”.

Personalize

4 – Click on “Display Settings”.

5 – Line up your monitors. In the image below, my primary monitor is on the right. If you want to switch that just click and drag one of the monitors to the other side.

Dual Monitors in Vista

6 – Set the resolution.

7 – Check “Extend the desktop onto this monitor” for the second monitor.

8 – Click “OK”.

Your desktop background should now be duplicated on your second screen and you’ll be able to drag programs to the second screen.

 

How to Set Up a Second Monitor on a Mac:

1 – Connect a second monitor.

2 – Go to the Apple menu.

3 – Select “System Preferences”.

4 – Select “Displays”.

5 – Select “Arrangement”.

6 – Make sure that “Mirror Displays” is un-checked.

7 – Align your monitors properly by dragging one, or leave them as they are shown (you can also drag them up and down to match the height relative to the actual position).

 

Showcase of Multi Screen Work Stations:

Now let’s take a look at some multi screen work stations in a real world setting. (For more, please see The Workstations of Popular Websites.) Most of these are examples of very typical multi screen workstations that could by achieved relatively easily. Hopefully this gives you some ideas that may be useful for your own office.


Photo from Aaronage.


Photo from Josh McConnell


Photo from Basajaun


Photo from Feras Hare


Photo from Gubatron


Photo from mloskot


Photo from Paris Apostolopoulos


Photo from nechbi


Ricardo Meza


Photo from Andrew


Photo from Archigeek


Photo from Travis Isaacs


Photo from JacobS


Photo from Tom Borowski


Photo from Enrique T


Photo from Fun with Fred


Photo from Rob ‘n’ Rae


Photo from Graphix Guru


Photo from elliottcable


Photo from XiXiDu

 

Multi Screen Resources:

While you don’t necessarily need anything extra to get a multi screen set up working (besides an extra monitor of course), there are a number of available resources that can be helpful in one way or another.

UltraMon (Windows)
UltraMon helps to improve efficiency for users of multiple monitors by adding additional options for maximizing screens to the desktop and moving windows. It also adds an additional task bar for each secondary monitor, which only shows tasks from the monitor it is on. There are also a number of other features. A single license costs $39.95.

Matrox Graphics eXpansion Modules
DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go are small devices that help you to connect two or three monitors to a laptop or desktop. They connect to the VGA or DVI output and use your system’s GPU to provide high-quality 2D, 3D and video across all monitors.

PowerStrip
PowerStrip provides advanced, multi-monitor, programmable hardware support to a wide range of graphics cards. PowerStrip is try-before-you-buy shareware. You can download it and try it for free, and pay $29.95 for a single-user license.

Multiplicity
Multiplicity lets you control multiple computers with a single mouse and keyboard. You can easily move files from one computer to another, or even copy and paste. The cost of a license starts at $29.95.

Synergy
Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It’s intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s). It is open source and available as a free download.

Hack Attack: Control Multiple Computers with a Single Keyboard and Mouse
An article from Lifehacker about using Synergy.

Teleport (Mac)
Teleport lets you control several Macs with a single keyboard and mouse. It works basically the same as a typical dual screen set up, except that it uses two (or more) computers instead of one.

Multi-Monitor FAQ
If you have questions about the topic, or if you’re having trouble getting set up, this FAQ can prove to be a helpful resource.

 

For Further Reading and Research:


Written exclusively for WDD by Steven Snell, a web designer and freelance blogger. You can find more of his writing at the Vandelay Design blog and DesignM.ag.

Do you use multiple screens in your work? What are the major advantages for you? Please share with us in the comments’ area below…

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  • http://www.kutserongkulot.com kulot

    been using this technology, its really requires a spacious working table

  • http://blog.insicdesigns.com insic

    I think one of the disadvantages in multiple screens is “High Electricity Bills” :). Very Nice article.

  • http://www.ballardcreative.com James Ballard

    While I do not use multiple screens, I do use spaces on my macbook to separate the programs. I currently have 6 screens set up. It sometimes gets buggy when flipping from window to window, however, I cannot imagine not having it.

  • http://www.dawghousedesignstudio.com Jan

    Good read. I’ve always wanted to try to have this kind of setup.

  • http://designwashere.com Design was here

    Nice article! Thinking of buying a second monitor..

    I agree with insic! “Higher Electricity Bills. :)

  • http://hire.eyeheartzombies.com Kenneth

    For developers, it’s often handy to turn one monitor vertical/portrait. This allows you to see more code at once. Leave the other horizontal/landscape for testing, since that’s the most common for users.

    • http://www.idistillery.com/blog Jason

      Absolutely! The best move I ever made was picking up an HPw2207, which I can orient vertically alongside my 24″ imac… having two workspaces (or a “work” space and a “testing” space) saves from having to switch back and forth.

      Although I actually use the portrait screen for browser testing, with two browser windows open, one above the other (keeps me limited to under 1200px wide… so I won’t develop something too wide for “typical” displays). The code stays on the 24″ iMac, allowing me to survey a TON of code without excessive scrolling.

  • Stephen

    To get around the large monitor paradox you need
    winsplit revolution (for windows)
    or the grid plugin (for compiz)

  • David

    For whatever reason, I prefer my old 4:3 Viewsonic LCD as a second monitor over a second 16:10.

  • http://chriseverettonline.com Chris Everett

    I’ve been using multiple monitors for a few years now and cannot imagine going back to just one. At minimum, I have Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, my email and several browsers open. Often I also open (and toggle between) MS Office applications, CorelDraw (gasp!) and a few other utilities.

    The only negative I have is that, sometimes, I click on one application and then glance at a different monitor to respond to some stimulus… then I start to type something or use a keyboard shortcut and it affects the wrong application. Not a major problem but it keeps me on my toes.

  • http://interactiveblend.com Louis Gubitosi

    great article.. I just did a blog on workspaces and there are some interesting set-ups here: http://interactiveblend.com/blog/interactive/show-me-what-youre-workin-with-2/

  • http://www.mbwebdev.com Mitchell B

    I use two monitors and here is a nice tip to save space if you have the means. I have a 19″ LCD TV with a vga input as my second monitor. It’s mounted to the wall behind my desk so it uses no screen space and is at the perfect viewing height. It’s also nice when I want to use my Laptop at my desk as it gives me a very good display with it just above my laptop screen.

    • http://www.mbwebdev.com Mitchell B

      I meant it uses no desk space :P

  • http://designm.ag/ Steven Snell

    Kulot,
    Yes, it does require some space, but many time you can re-organize to use the space more effectively. Just depends on your setup I guess.

  • http://www.ekoner.com/blog/ Edafe Onerhime

    I couldn’t live without my dual screens at work. One for monitoring and the other for whatever I’m actively working on.

  • http://jamesduffell.com James Duffell

    Alright Callum hows it goin

  • http://www.websitedoctor.com/ Alastair McDermott

    I love my dual screens, definite boost to productivity. One of my most common practices now is using Firefox+Firebug on one screen to tweak code, and use Filezilla + Edit to live edit files on the other. Makes for very quick tweak and verify on live sites.

    Here’s what my setup looks like. I have an Ergotron monitor stand, highly recommended.

    Dual screens floating above desk:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/alrocket/2420065910/in/set-72157604470559409/

    Tidy cabling:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/alrocket/2419251423/in/set-72157604470559409/

    Loads of desk space:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/alrocket/2419253937/in/set-72157604470559409/

    Feel free to add any of the pics into your post if they’re useful.

    Cheers,
    Alastair.
    WebsiteDoctor.com

  • http://sixrevisions.com Jacob Gube

    This is a wonderful analysis. I sometimes dual-monitor with my laptop and my desktop, but I find that 1 monitor is enough for what I do. Having multiple monitors, for me, is too distracting. One monitor forces me to focus at the task at hand; multi-tasking, at least for me, is always counter-productive.

  • http://clifgriffin.com Clifton Griffin

    I have 6 19 inch LCD monitors (two rows of three) at work. I definitely consider it an aid to my productivity.

    I’m not sure if more monitors would assist though. I wouldn’t know how to use them productively.

  • http://www.sugarpixel.com Carolina

    Great article! I don’t currently work with multiple screens, but have contemplated using them. My husband uses multiple screens and loves it. My only restrictions right now are accommodating a bigger workspace and acquiring more hardware. Maybe in the next year. Thanks again for the pros and cons!

  • http://marielydelrey.com/blog Mariely

    Great! It’s a nice idea.

  • http://www.thirteenthstar.com David Glassford

    I miss having multiple screens, aim on getting another one soon, makes life much easier.
    A great program for spliting the screen in to different sections is maxTo (think it’s windows only)

    Great Article

    :)

  • http://www.alvindimla.com Jan Alvin

    Yep, having multiple screens can be costly. But I still want that, I’m always struggling in my work.

  • http://eugeniogrigolon.com Eugenio Grigolon

    I have been working with one 22 and MacBook 13.3 but soon I’ll buy another 22! I love having space while working!
    Nice article / photos! Thanks!

  • http://oradesign.com.au Owen Anderson

    Nice article. I have my MacBook which is nice and portable, then when I come home I plug it into my 24″ Samsung monitor. I have been more productive since I got it.

    However you are when saying you can get more distracted. I was in coda, then popped over and read this article. Dam you WebDesignerDepot, you’re distracting me! =)

  • (zoe)

    I prefer one large 30 inch monitor rather than two 24 inch monitors.
    For me it’s more comfortable and there is no hurt in the neck at the end of the day.

    Simultaneously using:
    Photoshop
    NuSphere
    Firefox
    Opera
    Safari
    Chrome
    IE6
    IE7

  • http://www.ecommerce-blog.org/ Jestep

    I currently use 3 screens for active use. I also have a few others for monitoring.

    If you are a developer/programmer, you can program in one, and test in the second, and use the third for email/twitter/etc… I find that productivity goes up a lot with two, but can actually go down with more than that if the user isn’t specific in what each is used for.

  • http://techcastnetwork.co.uk techcastoni

    The solution I found to work best isn’t to add more screens. It’s just to upgrade to the biggest you need and can afford. I went from a 17-inch display to a 20-inch widescreen and found that the jump didn’t really offer anything more. So I got rid of both and went for the 30-inch Cinema Display and have never looked back since. Plenty of desktop real estate and takes about the same space if not less than two widescreens sat next to each other.

  • Eric Basford

    Why no examples of portrait-orientations? I’ve got one monitor for portrait work (Outlook, Word docs) and one for landscape work (design and prototyping apps)… just one more benefit to the fantastic productivity improvements you’ve cited!

  • http://www.ysatis.com.br Wladia Viviani

    I’ve been using a desktop manager for a while, and I wonder what would be the advantages of replacing my (many) virtual monitors by two “real” ones. Maybe I’ll give a try as soon as I get some spare time. However I’d love to hear from who’ve already tried both methods if the upgrade to actual monitors is worth and what are the drawbacks, when comparing to a v.m. (anybody…?)

    Very interesting post!

  • http://orbitaldesigngroup.com Josh Hudnall

    I’m amazed at the number of pictures with the secondary monitor on the left of the primary monitor. That is so disorienting to me. I guess it works for a lot of people though.

  • http://blog.birnamdesigns.com David W.

    I would add that one of the disadvantages is having to color-calibrate multiple monitors — and have no absolute guarantee that the colors will 100% match, especially if the monitors are different models.

  • http://www.syaoran.net Patrick

    Great article! I’ve long held off on trying multi-monitor setup. I’ve been reading a lot of articles about it recently (including that one from LH and your workstation showcase here) and I’ve finally decided to try it.

    Right now, I’m using my desktop monitor as secondary display for my laptop. Just plugged in the video cable and it was instantly detected. Didn’t expect it would be that easy. But I also didn’t expect that it would only work like a projector and that I would need additional software to actually have a “complete” secondary monitor. UltraMon looks good but it’s not free. It would be nice if you had also recommended freeware alternatives.

    • http://www.syaoran.net Patrick

      Did a quick Google search and found this:
      http://www.mediachance.com/free/multimon.htm

      Not as feature-rich as UltraMon but at least the secondary monitor has its own taskbar. Just thought I’d share it here… ^_^

      • http://repatriate.me Sean

        Ultramon gives the second monitor a taskbar – I’m using it now and can see that.

        Another user here with one landscape and one portrait oriented monitor. Will be moving to one 27′ monitor in landscape flanked on either side by dual 22″ portraits as soon as I can get a bigger desk.

  • http://blog.birnamdesigns.com David W.

    @Josh Hudnall — I have my secondary monitor set up to the left as well. My reasoning is that the start button / gnome menu / etc. is normally placed on the left hand side of the primary. So with the primary screen on the right, this button is now in the center of my desktop, which is (statistically) closer to the mouse at any given point.

    It also keeps the clock and tray on the far right corner, instead of the center. There’s no interface benefit to that though, it’s just what I’m used to.

  • http://blog.andreaugusto.com.br Andre Augusto

    True!! I got myself distracted everyday on Webdesign Depot! :P I use my laptop and my desktop monitor samsung. I could send a picture aswell…

  • http://www.vintagefactor.com Bob Dye

    Everyone has to decide for themselves how many monitors is “enough”. I found that 2 works well for me; more would take up a lot of space with little extra benefit. In my case, each monitor is attached to a separate PC, which reduces the performance hit.

    I use Synergy, which you mention at the bottom of your post but don’t highlight. It allows me to share a single keyboard and mouse between the two systems. You switch between systems by simply moving your mouse to the other monitor. It also allows you to cut and paste between systems, which is handy. I’d highly recommend it for multi-PC setups.

  • http://designm.ag/ Steven Snell

    Clifton,
    6! Wow, that’s a lot!

  • http://linuxtremo.blogspot.com Mykera

    Excellent article, thank you very much for the input.

    I really like the idea of using two or more monitors.

    So I hope soon to try it on my PC with Ubuntu Linux.

  • http://www.341design.com.au Chris Howard

    One important negative that you missed and you should add is ergonomics. Two screens can really mess with that, consequently causing neck strain, as Zoe suggested.

    Generally you’d have one screen as your main one and you’d setup to have it in the best ergonomc position, but that means the other one isn’t. So if you spend too much time looking at it, you could end up with a sore neck – or back if you are twisting in your chair to look at it.

    I work with two screens and love it.

  • http://abdusfauzi.com abdusfauzi

    seconded your listing. but still, the disadvantages won’t kill me. hahahaha!

  • http://daniel.streefkerkonline.com Daniel

    Good article. Some interesting points on the plus-side. I use 2x 22″ monitors on my work PC, and I couldn’t go back.

    Another useful utility is KatMouse (http://ehiti.de/katmouse/), which allows you to scroll in windows that are not in focus.

    For example, I have Outlook on my left-hand monitor, and a browser on my right-hand monitor. I can scroll down the email list pane in Outlook, even though Google Chrome has the focus on the other monitor.

  • http://wpcult.com The Frosty @WPCult

    How I wish I had the space for just one two three four more monitors. :)

  • matt

    i have been using ultramon and 2 monitors for at least 3 years now and would never go back to a single monitor! i get so much more done – emails in one window and then what i am doing in the other – it actually reduces stress on your neck as you are looking left and right all the time

  • http://musingmarc.blogspot.com Marc Brooks

    I just can’t figure out why nobody talks about WinSplit Revolution in these articles. It’s vastly superior to UltraMon and FREE.

  • http://entrellaves.blogspot.com Gorlok

    The real advantage: it’s very cool. Nice too looking. That’s it :)

    But I feel very confortable with a single wide big screen WITH multiple desktops. Of course, YMMV.

    I’m working on a Linux desktop. I use four virtual desktop all day always. It’s a good setup for me.

  • http://www.derekerb.com Derek Erb

    I expanded to a dual-monitor setup a couple of years ago… then I thought I’d try a triple-monitor setup a little over a year ago.

    I can’t ever go back to developing on a mono-monitor system. My code open in one monitor (HTML, CSS, JavaScript), a browser or 2 open in another monitor and the constant stream of e-mail and Twitter in the third monitor.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dcefrance/2198850515/

    Oh… and it’s an amazing experience in games like Second Life!

  • http://thewebsiteplace.com Simon

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/thewebsiteplace/3368503696/

    I love my pc screens really helps me with fireworks and firefox in one and dreamwearver in the other.

    Also on the debate of energy 2 22″ screens will use less energy than one old school monitor, and i used to run on 2 of them :)

    Simon

  • http://www.fuadbd.net Fuad Ahasan Chowdhury

    great piece of analysis. ;) I ‘m using two screens and sometime with my laptop.. but i feel comfortable with one. :)

    cheers
    Fuad

  • http://www.ape-x.net Ghoses

    tipp:use synergy-tool for your mouse. Here my Desktop…
    http://killerking.deviantart.com/art/Ghoses-Desktop-2009-112659613

  • slickpencil

    I have Dual monitor setup on my Desktop with XP. and combined that setup using synergy with my laptop Vista. 3 monitors with 2 PCs using one mouse and one keyboard.. awesome!!

    Multimedia Designer by trade.

  • http://jerba.be djerba

    I really like to use multiple screens setup !

    But, is there a nice application that could simulate screen resolution difference without installig many monitors ?

    Thanks :)

  • http://www.panixmedia.com Panix

    I use multiple monitors at work and only one at home. I’ve found the main advantage of dual monitors at work is the added ability to hide from your boss more efficiently.

  • http://www.moinid.com Most Interesting Ideas

    Interesting that I using 2 monitors at home, but at work 1 :)

  • Patrick

    This article is really interesting! I’m using a multi-monitor system until 6 months and I’m very happy! I noticed that it increased the productivity and the skill to do more processes at one time. I just can recommend everybody to try it out!

  • http://www.actualtools.com/multiplemonitors/ Alex

    Having more than one monitor is great but just the first step to increase the overall productivity – there are some minor but annoying user interface drawbacks which may diminish the work efficiency (at least, on Microsoft Windows OS):

    – there is no standard service such as Windows Taskbar to manage windows located on secondary displays
    – you can’t quickly minimize, restore, or activate any particular window via its Taskbar button without having to move your cursor to the primary display
    – there is no access to the Start Menu from secondary displays – requires moving the mouse pointer to the primary display each time you need to access Start Menu
    – when you switch windows using Alt-Tab the Task Switcher service window is displayed on the primary display only, which is quite distracting if your current attention is on a secondary display
    – there is no quick way to move a window to a certain monitor or to maximize a window over the entire composite desktop if such need arises

    Unfortunately, even the upcoming Windows 7 doesn’t address those issues properly, so most of power multi-monitor users usually utilize the 3rd party products, such as UltraMon, MultiMon or DisplayFusion. Recently, there appears the new solution – Actual Multiple Monitors (http://www.actualtools.com/multiplemonitors/), which fixes the mentioned UI issues and provides some additional services such as window thumbnails on WinXP, Windows 7 Aero Snap emulation on WinXP/WinVista, and others.

    I’d recommend any professionals who uses several displays at once at least check this program out – it may improve the multi-monitor experience significantly.

  • http://www.ahead.com Henrik Kryger Pallesen

    It’s probably just a question of time before the major OS’s are ZUIs (zoom user interfaces) making it easier to access a lot of content on one screen.

  • http://www.theotakukid.com Shockerz

    Nice write up! I always wanted to buy a second LCD as my second monitor to play but not sure what’s the advantages & disadvantages are.

  • http://mahmudurrahmanblog.blogspot.com Mahmudur Rahman

    Nice article and office desktop images. Single screen is much more comfortable then duel screen at working environment. Thanks for sharing this nice post.

  • http://www.2monitors.blogspot.com multiple monitors fan

    I just got a second monitor 4 months ago. I had researched the pros and cons. I researched what 2 monitors i should get. When I got it all setup I realized that I wasn’t going to be happy until I got a 3rd monitor.

  • http://joecooldesign.com thejoecool

    Almost cant work without 2 displays now…works very well, but I have my second monitor above my other one…less neck swivel.

  • http://www.chrisjanus.net Chris Janus

    i love, love, LOVE using dual monitors and will NEVER go back! that’s a really great idea above to set one screen vertical – i will definitely try that out this weekend.

    so many uses – a different application on each screen, photoshop/illustrator control panels on one screen while working program in the other, reading instructions/guidelines/tutorials on one screen while working off it in the other screen, and/or i also sometimes use the second monitor in a different resolution for easy site testing. at work, i only have one monitor right now, and i definitely spend a LOT of extra time clicking back and forth between windows whether switching applications or copying content back and forth ….drives me NUTS.

    two screens are great, but i could even use a third in the future. my dream is Stanley’s setup in Swordfish….(drool)….

  • http://webagentur-meerbusch.de/ Zulu

    good report
    I love it, multi monitoring initially
    I have three monitors + used tablet (UltroMon).
    Because not only the whole desk was full, the power provider had pockets full.
    But power has become so expensive that I now only nor drive a monitor and the Tablet

  • http://www.xplaye.com Javier Mateos

    I might say that also a disadvantage will be to waste energy and burn the world down, other than that it’s lots of fun! :)

  • http://www.christrude.com @trudesign

    The cost is totally worth it…my only issue is that my 2nd mon on my laptop is a crappy HP and the colors are crap, impossible to match to my MBP screen. sadface.

  • http://www.dual-monitor.biz/ Dual Monitor

    yeah dual monitors are really great and a single look at the pictures is sufficient to discard any disadvatages of having and using multiple monitors.

  • http://www.kevinkane.com Kevin Kane

    Great summary, and nice gallery of multi-monitor workspaces!

    Have you seen the multi-monitors used by Bill Gates and Al Gore? See here: http://www.kevinkane.com/2009/08/boost-productivity-52-and-save-2-5-hours-daily-with-multi-monitors/

  • http://www.stellerdesigns.com Steller Designs

    Yup! I got DUAL 42″ monitors and they are a trip! Get screens lost sometimes but its pretty sweet!

  • http://psdtomagento.net tuba

    great article, got dual screen, seems very good to me

  • http://liketoco.de Simon White

    I run Dual 22″ Monitors. Without them I’d be lost. But, I don’t use any of the applications you suggested, I use DisplayFusion by Binary Fortress (http://www.displayfusion.com/) It was only $25 for a license.

    I have a few pictures on my Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonwhite/sets/72157624936472593/ But I plan on getting a new Desk. The reasoning is that I’ll be buying a new Macbook Pro soon, and I’d to give that another monitor, so the larger desk will be needed.