Using a dual monitor setup
Modern computing is all about multitasking. Do you use email, a web browser, Office and Twitter simultaneously? There’s no better way to see lots of data at the same time than with two – or even three – separate monitors.
Having an extra monitor in a dual monitor setup extends the scope of a single program. With email, for example, you can have your email client on one monitor and your browser in the other. If you have a web link in a message, just drag it onto the other monitor and into the browser.
Most PCs have video adapters built into the motherboard, or have a separate graphics card with dual ports (HDMI, DVI or old-fashioned VGA).
Turn off your PC, connect the monitor cable and boot up. Windows will spot the dual monitor setup and a multiple displays drop-down list will appear.
Windows doesn’t offer many options, but the UltraMon software provides extra versatility. Let’s get started.
1. Set up screens
Windows should automatically detect each monitor. If not, right-click the desktop and click ‘Screen Resolution’, then ‘Detect’.
Under the ‘Multiple displays’ drop-down list you can choose to ‘Extend your displays’, ‘Duplicate your displays’ or ‘Show desktop on…’ The latter is commonly used with a laptop if you want to keep your laptop screen blank after you’ve connected to a desktop monitor.
2. Install UltraMon
After downloading UltraMon, run the free installer. You don’t need to enter the registration information during the 30-day free trial, so just leave it all blank and click ‘Next’.
On the Customize Installation screen you can choose to install some of the key features in a different location (or not to install them at all). Click ‘Next’.
3. Access UltraMon in Taskbar
All of UltraMon’s action takes place in the system tray’s ‘Show hidden icons’ area. Click the arrow on the Taskbar, then right-click on the UltraMon icon to see all your options.
From here, you can manage your monitors without ever having to go into the Windows Control Panel.
4. Manage your windows
To move windows in UltraMon, click in the top-right of any window. UltraMon allows you to use the mouse to move maximised windows – just drag the title bar. As soon as you do this, the mouse pointer changes to the move cursor.
The window is moved to the monitor on which you release the mouse.
5. Get smart
UltraMon’s Smart Taskbar includes additional Taskbars for other monitors. Right-click the UltraMon Taskbar icon and choose ‘Smart Taskbar > Enable’. Go to ‘Options’ to choose between two modes.
In ‘Standard’, each Taskbar only shows apps from the monitor it is on. In ‘Mirror’, each Taskbar shows all tasks.
6. Taskbar settings
Right-click Windows Taskbar to adjust Taskbar settings. You can add toolbars, such as True Launch Bar.
On your second monitor, right-click the Windows Taskbar and go to ‘Toolbars > True Launch Bar’ to add it. Keep the standard Taskbar on the first monitor.
7. Make shortcuts
You can create shortcuts that open programs on a particular monitor or at a specific position. You can access shortcuts from UltraMon’s menu, or save them as Windows shortcuts and access them from the desktop or Start menu.
On the context menu, click ‘Shortcuts > New Shortcut’. On the new window, find the application and hit ‘Next’. Pick a monitor and click ‘Next’ to finish.
8. Display profiles
Display profiles make it easy to switch between desktop configurations. A profile stores the display mode and state of each monitor, as well as which monitor is the primary one.
You can use display profiles as you do with Windows User Accounts. From the right-click menu, choose ‘Display Profiles > New Display Profile’. Click ‘Next’ and you will be able to name your profile and select options.
9. Extending wallpapers
With UltraMon, you can use a single image for the whole desktop, or different images for each monitor. You can also create gradient colour backgrounds that extend across two monitors.
To extend a wallpaper, choose ‘Wallpaper’ from the right-click menu. Select ‘One background/image for whole desktop’. Get an image by clicking ‘Browse’, and when you’ve found one, choose ‘Stretch’.
10. Multiple screensavers
To add a multi-monitor screensaver, go to ‘Screen Saver > Configure’. Choose a screensaver from the drop-down list and click ‘OK’. UltraMon can also disable secondary monitors when the screensaver gets started – this is useful if a screensaver doesn’t work correctly with multiple monitors enabled.
Go into the ‘Options’ tab and check ‘Disable secondary monitors’.
11. Mirror your screens
You can use a second monitor to mirror what you see on the first screen for presentations etc. Here, UltraMon gives you more options than Windows. From the right-click menu, choose ‘Mirroring > Settings’ and pick from one of the options.
For presenting, being able to mirror a single application or part of a desktop is handy. Go into the context menu again and choose ‘Mirroring > Enable’.
12. Primary monitor selection
From the right-click menu you can quickly set the main monitor by going to ‘Set Primary > Monitor 1 / 2’. You can also quickly disable or enable secondary monitors from the UltraMon menu or with a hotkey.
When re-enabling secondary monitors (there’s an ‘Enable Secondary’ option in the right-click menu), windows are moved back to their original positions.
13. Custom Display Properties applet
UltraMon supports the exact physical positioning of monitors by entering coordinates directly in the Custom Display Properties applet. Unlike Windows Display Properties, more than 10 monitors can be configured.
Under ‘Display Settings’, click on ‘Actions’ to open up the Arrange Monitors screen. From here you can choose from various different screen setups.
14. UltraMon options
Further tweaks are found in the right-click menu under ‘Options’. There are eight tabs that offer small tweaks to your setup. One clever option in UltraMon restores icons to their original position.
Go to the ‘General’ tab and choose ‘Save Now’ to take a snapshot of your current icon positions. Use the ‘Restore Now’ button if you ever change your setup and want to revert.