More on multiple monitors

Everyone knows I love multiple monitors,  I have 3 * 19″ all the same model and type and all cheap ones that are just fine for my simple needs (ie not Gaming).  Here are a few things I’ve learned in the 3 years I’ve used them:

  1. A laptop – single screen – is just fine if all you want to do is read, or process email, or scan your RSS feeds.  I use a laptop for all these tasks and I prefer it to my desktop because I can do these things anywhere, and I like the focus (multiple monitors can distract).
  2. Multiple monitors are perfect though for creative work, analysis, collaboration, etc where you need to access more than one application at a time, or multiple copies of the same application.
  3. Three monitors is great, but with hindsight I would make my central monitor larger than 19″ and I would consider a small 1024*768 display as well for web conferences.
  4. Your second priority investment after buying multiple displays is to get Ultramon, which now works fine on Vista. 
  5. You can open multiple Excel windows on different screens by manually resizing Excel (or use Ultramon) to span multiple screens and then opening up additional windows and dragging them between screens.
  6. PowerPoint seems to only support a single screen, You can use OpenOffice to open up multiple copies of PowerPoint.  You can use it for Excel too, but I don’t.  I sometimes also use SnagIt (screen capture) to quickly grab a PowerPoint of Excel window that I need to reference while working on another display
  7. Use synergy to allow your to use one keyboard and mouse to access your laptop/tablet if you use a desktop PC with multiple monitors like me.  Much better than a hardware KVM.
  8. Use some of the screen real-estate to dock a few key applications that you need to reference frequently.  I dock the Vista sidebar on the far left and Pidgin universal IM client docks on the far right.
  9. If you use Lotus Notes,  Open up separate windows on different displays.  I have my Email on my centre display, Calendar on the right and highlight report and personal database on the right.  Much easier to work that way
  10. Coding horror blog has the best discussion on multiple monitors, eg http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001076.html
  11. If you need to convince the boss,  Quote the Wall Street Journal, http://blogs.wsj.com/biztech/2008/03/10/bigger-computer-monitors-more-productivity/
  12. In rare cases a very large single display might be better, I personally think a Large centre display and two 19″ displays works best. But if you like the large display idea, you will need some extra utilities, http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000928.html

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

4 Responses

  1. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Stacey Derbinshire

  2. Vince Smith says:

    I do use a Hardware KVM – I like it a lot. I have four machines and one CRT monitor. Two of the machines are just doing background tasks – like file serving, audio/media streaming etc.

    I have recently changed my personal laptop and have it’s screen up at the same time as the KVM monitor and yes – I’m finding value in having two displays.

    I like my KVM because it is totally USB based and I can also switch the peripheral USB port which is connected to a small USB hub so I can switch several peripherals at the same time. And it works with my Macs, Linux, XP

    I have used VNC (various flavours) cross platform and that’s OK as well – just better performance with the KVM, but you loose the p-in-p aspect compared to VNC.

  3. Steve Richards says:

    I guess that because I have so many virtual machines and only three physical ones, Synergy and RDP/VNC serve me well. I used to have a KVM, but found that the virtual solutions were more flexible. That said I do sometimes have to plug in a spare keyboard to my headless server when I need to do an upgrade.

  4. Mark says:

    I have been using quad monitors for about 7 months now and I absolutely am nuts about it. It definitely increased my productivity for my day trading market research. I feel it’s only right to plug the company that I bought from:

    http://www.multiplexpc.com

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