My article about using multiple monitors brought several responses from readers.
First, David from the UK commented via my blog to say
New year’s greetings to you!
Re. your item about using two monitors, I’ve been using a couple for a few years now and I really don’t know how I managed before. Once tried, there just ain’t no going back! I feel very restricted when I have to revert to a laptop every now and again.
My NVidia twin-output card allows the use of an extended desktop (amongst other choices) without needing any additional software. For those in the same position, I can recommend a little add-on in the form of “Oscar’s Multi Monitor Task Bar”.
This is pretty self-explanatory. I didn’t know he’d brought out a pro, paid-for version. I use the freebie and it works fine.
Also see his interesting ideas under “Create Multi-Computer environment”. On a similar tack, I have a second PC connected with a cross-over ethernet cable to the main PC with the monitor also on the desk with the two monitors from the main PC and I use a program called “Synergy” http://synergy2.sourceforge.net which seamlessly allows the use of one mouse over all three screens and also one keyboard when the cursor is on the appropriate screen. It also allows copy and paste between the two computers, which is very useful.
Pity it doesn’t allow drag and drop for files, as well! It’s so seamless it’s a great temptation to try and drag an open window from the right-hand monitor of the main PC on to the single monitor of the second PC and wonder why it won’t go! Hope this hasn’t strayed too far off topic but Synergy is so good, it’s almost worthy of an article in its own right!
The only down-side is the set-up (i.e. telling Synergy the relative positions of the monitors), which is a little quirky but once done, it’s yet another one of those programs that I wonder how I did without.
Then, Ron also commented on the blog to say:
Multi-monitor is great. I just got a new HP laptop in November. It uses a ATI addon video card and came with a built in VGA plug. So I just plugged in my desktop monitor and bingo, 17″ laptop LCD at 1440×900 x 59hz and my desktop CRT at 1280×1024 x 85 hz. It worked immediately.
The only quirk is that the video utility assumes that the laptop is on the left of the #2 monitor if I power on the CRT after the laptop is running. So the mouse only wraps from the RIGHT side of the laptop all the way over to the far LEFT side of the CRT until I can reset location of the #2 monitor.
So while tools like the one you mentioned are useful, people should first check that their video driver does not already support multiple monitors. They may be pleasantly surprised, especially with newer video cards that already have the second monitor connector built in.
You may not realize that your PC is already setup to handle 2 monitors without additional effort.
It sounds like Ron has a great solution. I’d like to do something like that for my laptop, since it’s my main personal PC
Like Ron’s HP notebook, my Dell notebook has a port for a monitor as well as the LCD screen, and can optionally run both at the same time. In the case of Dell notebooks (at least the one’s I’ve used), pressing Alt-F8 switches between the LCD only, the external monitor only, or both. However, both monitors show the same thing — there’s no built-in provision for the monitors to make one large virtual screen as I do with UltraMon at work.
On the other hand, I can do email, web surfing, write newsletters, and edit my web sites in the eveningn while watching TV or DVD’s — I keep my notebook in the den on a roll-around laptop cart (there’s a picture in my October 5th newsletter ), so there’s not room for another monitor.