TechBite: Two Monitors? Heck, Make it Three!


By Steve Bass

Where’s My Monitor?
Listen to this concession: "Okay, yes, once you’ve used a two-monitor setup, going back to a single monitor sucks."

That from my wife who last year resisted using a second monitor. It’s so darn quaint when she admits she’s wrong.

Judy found that out when I brought home a friend’s PC for repair, needed a monitor, and borrowed hers. (First rule of computing: Use someone else’s equipment whenever possible.)

The repair was taking longer than I expected — funny how computers do that to you — and, my pobrecita was feeling deprived.

Two Monitors in Every Office
I added a second monitor years ago and it was sweller than swell. Click a link in an e-mail on the right monitor and watch it appear in the browser on the left monitor. Besides watching my productivity increase (I say that for you business types), it felt wildly cool seeing two screens at once.

If you didn’t realize, I like cool things.

But my gut said, "If two’s good, three’s got to be better." It is.

That’s because with three, I’m on the middle screen, writing in Word, doing research in a browser on another screen, and trying out the app I’m reviewing in on the third window. Or if Judy’s not around, watching a movie.
Once you get used to spending money for the equipment, believe me, adding a second, third, or even fourth screen isn’t difficult.

Okay, that’s the setup. Here’s how to do it.

The Nuts, Bolts, and Details
In less time than it takes for your system to boot up, you can install a second or third monitor. (Actually, you can string together as many as six of them; more in a sec.)

Most PCs have video adapters — either built into the motherboard, or a separate video adapter add-in card — and  have two monitor ports. The ports are generally two DVI or VGA connectors, or maybe one of each. (Of course, if you’re on the forefront of technology, you probably have the even better HDMI; I’m jealous.)

VGA and DVI ports

So adding a second monitor is straightforward: Turn off your PC, connect the cable that comes with the monitor to the second port on the video adapter, and boot. XP and Win 7 will spot the new monitor and talk you through the setup steps. Microsoft has a tutorial that explains how it works.

But I’m thinking that many of you don’t want to crawl under the desk with all the dust and schmutz to find the second video adapter port. So I have an alternative, a nifty one, too.

Steve’s article continued here

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