Using Multiple Monitors in Windows 8

aNewDomain.net – Like many people, I find using multiple monitors not only increases my productivity, but makes working on a computer much easier. I’ve used multiple monitors for years in Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Using multiple monitors has always been possible, but now, for the first time with Windows 8, Microsoft has provided true multimonitor support right in the operating system.

To set up multiple monitors in Windows 8, you simply use the PC’s DVI, VGA, or HDMI port and an appropriate cable to attach the second monitor. Almost all laptops can accommodate an external monitor and most of today’s desktops have dual monitor ports or a DVI or VGA port along with an HDMI port.

When you make the connection and turn on the monitor, the desktop screen from the main monitor will appear on both monitors. At this point you invoke the Charms menu by swiping or placing your mouse cursor in the upper or lower right corner of the screen. Choose Devices, and then choose Second screen.

 second screen

Four choices will appear: PC screen only, Duplicate, Extend, and Second screen only. Although the other three choices may be valuable at some time in the future, most everyone will want to choose Extend to extend their main display to the secondary display and be able to drag and move items between the two screens.

 extend multiple monitors

If the two monitors are working the way you want, you are now good to go. If, however, the cursor is not jumping from one screen to the other in the proper direction, you will have to tweak the settings.  Go to the Control Panel and choose Display, then choose Change Display Settings.) Drag the virtual monitors on the screen to mimic your physical setup. Then click or tap OK.

When in the desktop mode, Windows 8 defaults to showing the taskbar on both monitors. You can choose to have it on only one monitor or you can customize the taskbar on each monitor. To do that, simply right-click or press and hold the taskbar and choose Properties to set your taskbar choices.

 taskbar properties

You can also set a different desktop picture on each monitor. Bring up the desktop, and right-click or press and hold on any blank area to access the Display Menu. Choose Personalize. Find the picture that you would like to use and right-click or press and hold. Then choose which monitor you want that picture to appear on. If you have several pictures chosen for a slide show, you will not be able to bring up this menu. Simply remove all the checkmarks and then proceed with the previous instructions.

 background picture

After using Windows 8 with multiple monitors you will find that Microsoft did an excellent job with the dual monitor implementation. The four corners of each screen are hot spots. The cursor moves smoothly from screen to screen. You can use the Windows key in combination with the page up and page down or arrows keys to move apps from one window to another. Everything is slicker and easier than ever before.

All images credit Sandy Berger for aNewDomain.net

Based in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Sandy Berger is a veteran tech journalist and senior editor at aNewDomain.net covering tech tips and tricks, apps and gadgets in general. Email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sandyberger, +SandyBerger on Google+, and www.facebook.com/sandyberger on Facebook.

Jeremy Lesniak
Based in Vermont, Jeremy Lesniak is managing editor at aNewDomain.net and founder of Vermont Computing, Inc. and whistlekick.com. Email him [email protected]
Jeremy Lesniak
Jeremy Lesniak
Tags: Technology