Tip o’ the Week #39 – Multi-monitor with Win7

clip_image002If you sit at a shared desk with a monitor on it, but are content to just use your laptop screen, then this tip is for you. Also, if you use your laptop and display the same image on both its internal panel and an attached external screen, listen up.

Multi-mon in Windows 7 – the ability to extend your desktop to cover multiple screens – is quite possibly its killer feature. Seriously. I bought a 2nd widescreen monitor for my home PC, just because it’s so useful.

Using multiple monitors couldn’t be simpler – plug in to your laptop (or plug a 2nd monitor into your desktop if you have one – many desktop PCs now have a VGA and a DVI connector, so you could drive one of each), and press WindowsKey-P to bring up the display selector, if necessary (since windows 7 does a good job of remembering your previous settings, you should only have to do this once).

(If you’re running a laptop with Windows 7, you do not need to do Fn-F7 or whatever to send the display to a projector. Same thing goes with managing an external display – Win-P does most of what you’ll need).

Shortcut keys are indispensible when managing multiple monitors – here are a few:

  • WndKey+SHIFT+ Left / Right arrow – switches the current window between the screens*
  • WndKey+Left / Right arrow – docks the current window to the left of the screen it’s on
    • (flick a window to the 2nd display with Wnd+Shift+Left then press Wnd+Left to dock)
  • WndKey+Home – minimises / maximises all windows other than the active one

clip_image004*actually, it’s possible to have an array of screens – these key combinations merely move the window one along the array.
Here’s someone taking things to extreme, I feel…

clip_image005Now, sometimes you won’t have monitors side-by-side – but that’s OK. Right-click on your desktop and choose Screen Resolution and you can move things around a bit…

In the example above, the 2nd display is offset to the top left and has a different resolution (1440×900 vs 1400×1050) and aspect ratio (16:9 widescreen vs 4:3 standard) to the main laptop screen. This happens to be my 2nd monitor when working at home. You can drag & drop the position of the 2nd monitor in relation to the primary one, and it gets saved for future – so your mouse moves appropriately between the two, or you can drag windows between (and even span) the two screens.

In the office, I use a 4:3 monitor (pictured below). The screen size/resolution can make for some interesting effects in comparison with the laptop panel, but here I have it set to stack the two screens vertically. Really handy when working on a couple of different things at once, or even when showing something to another user – far easier for them to see it on the big screen than squint at the laptop.


Most obscure tip of the week – WndKey+SHIFT+Up arrow –stretches a window’s height to span both monitors if they’re stacked vertically as shown above. Nope, I can’t think of too many uses for it either.

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