Should I Have More Than One Monitor on My Desktop?

April 19th, 2012 by Jessica Glynn

Are Two Monitors Better Than One?

Have you ever been working on something that required you to have so many windows open that you couldn’t keep track of them all?  If so, upgrading to two monitors may be right for you.

Having two monitors gives you the ability to spread out everything you have open and look at more than one thing at a time.  It can potentially increase your productivity as you easily work with two windows open, rather than having to pass back and forth between the two, which can be confusing.

There are many benefits to having a dual monitor set up.  One increasingly common use is using Skype for a meeting on one screen, while being able to access programs for the meeting on the other.  This is good for pulling up reports, websites, or taking notes as they are being discussed during the meeting.

I always have my email open on the monitor on the left, and the internet open on the monitor on my right.  This allows me to open links that were sent to me in emails while I still have the email open next to the links’ window.  I can also easily reference information I found online as I am composing emails.  I also keep all of my documents on the left monitor so I can easily document research from online sources as I am working on reports and writing projects.

I also use the second monitor to double check how things on our website look in different web browsers.  Just because something looks good or works properly in one browser does not necessarily mean it looks good or works across all browsers.  I normally use Firefox, which is always on my right monitor, but open internet explorer on the left.  I am also able to quickly see if anything looks different for someone who is not signed in viewing the webpage, without having to sign out, since I am looking at it from two different applications, one I am signed into and one I am not.  Anyone who updates their own website should use this practice anytime they make a change.  While this practice can and should be done by someone who has only one monitor, if changes need to be made, the second monitor makes the process that much more convenient and simple to complete.

If you do upgrade to two monitors you must make sure your computer is aware of it.  While it will not cause any problems having two separate programs on the two separate screens, if your computer thinks you only have one screen you will not be able to have two of the same program opened on different screens.  So for example, if I am working with two different Word documents and my computer thinks I only have one monitor, it will force me to keep both of those documents on the same screen.  To remedy this:

•    Go to your start menu and select control panel
•    Open the display icon
•    Click the settings tab
•    Choose 2 monitors and click okay or apply
•    Open the two documents in reduced windows (minimized and maximized windows both won’t work)
•   Drag one of the windows to the other screen

The biggest thing you should consider in deciding whether or not you need a second monitor is, is it worth it for you?  Weigh the time you have lost switching between multiple windows against the cost of the monitor.  Consider the potential increased productivity.   Ask yourself if there were times when you just had too much open and ended up having to fix an error you made because you were putting data in the wrong place.  A second monitor is not for everyone, but it might be right for you.

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