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In my recent post, “3 Efficiency Tips for Using Dual Monitors,” I noted that I recently switched to a dual monitor setup, and will never go back to a single monitor. The post also delved into some simple organizational principles for using multiple running applications with […]

In my recent post, “3 Efficiency Tips for Using Dual Monitors,” I noted that I recently switched to a dual monitor setup, and will never go back to a single monitor. The post also delved into some simple organizational principles for using multiple running applications with dual monitors, such as using different tabbed browsers on each display. Readers wrote in with some interesting additional tips, some of them adamant that two monitors are just not enough, and, since doing the post, I’ve noticed some other related multi-monitor tips around the web, too. So, here are a few extra items of interest on this topic. If you’re still using a lone monitor, these ideas can give you a real efficiency boost.


Utilities. In response to my first post on using two monitors, some readers wrote in with tips on free software utilities that can really add to your efficiency when running more than one monitor. Multi-Monitor Mouse got good marks from readers. It allows you to speed up your mouse interaction on multiple monitors, and use shortcut keys. Katmouse also drew praise for offering “universal scrolling,” where you can scroll the contents of windows that are under other windows. (If you use multiple monitors, you tend to have more windows running concurrently than you otherwise would.)

Are Two Displays Enough? The chief efficiency benefit I’ve gotten from using two displays concurrently is that I can run multiple applications in logical ways, constantly keeping the tools that I use all day available and easy to get to. However, several people who commented on the original post, noted that they use four and even more displays concurrently.Check out the six-LCD setup seen here, and shown above. In response to this post on the OStatic blog, another reader wrote in supplying a photo collection of his four-screen setup, dubbed “MEGADESK.” It has large individual displays, and allows him to look at one huge image across tons of screen real estate, or run many applications on several displays concurrently. Very nice.

Bill Gates Hits for a Triple. I noticed with interest this Lifehacker post, which discusses this post about how Bill Gates makes use of three displays concurrently. Gates reports that he gets over 100 emails per day from Microsoft employees alone, with many more coming from outside the company. He says:

“The large display area enables me to work very efficiently. I keep my Outlook 2007 Inbox open on the screen to the left so I can see new messages as they come in. I usually have the message or document that I’m currently reading or writing in the center screen. The screen on the right is where I have room to open up a browser or look at a document that someone has sent me in email.”

That’s exactly the benefit I see in multiple displays, and I’m seriously considering moving beyond just two displays. The separate displays make it easy to isolate applications and tasks, in a more organized and logical way than you can with just one. If you haven’t tried multiple displays, try it.

Do you use more than two displays? Has it noticeably boosted your productivity?

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By Samuel Dean
  1. @alnonymous – I like that his desk is even messier than mine. That’s not you, is it, Al? :)

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  2. [...] a lot of folks out there, I run dual monitors on my Mac. In my home office where there’s no TV, it’s nice to occasionally dedicate [...]

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  3. We actually upgraded all of our employees to 19″ LCD’s and recommissioned all of the 15″ LCD’s they replaced as second monitors. So now just about everyone runs Outlook on the small monitor and a browser/primary app on the larger monitor.

    As far as this discussion goes though, my ideal is 3 monitors, 20″ 30″ 20″ with the 20′s rotated to be 1200w x 1600h so that your effective resolution is 4960w x 1600h.

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  4. [...] Multiple-Monitor Setups: Are Two Enough? Zwei müssen es mindestens sein. Verwende dzt. 2 Monitore (1680×1050 + 1280×1024). Da würde schon noch ein 1280×1024 gehen. [...]

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  5. I’ve got 4 for my main computer and I could use 4 more. It’s hard to overstate the productivity gains you’ll see using multiple monitors.

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  6. [...] a lot of folks out there, I run dual monitors on my Mac. In my home office where there’s no TV, it’s nice to occasionally dedicate [...]

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  7. I do dev. on 2 screens now. I love it.

    I am waiting for new LCDs with low power consumption (Amazing to see the drop in the last years) and would like to switch to 3 screens.
    It is hard to find screens built for displaying source code 12 hours a day….

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  8. Multiple Monitor Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    I actually have a six LCD SUPER-PC™ that amazes me every day! Dual monitors really isn’t enough. You will just want more!
    I pretty much doubled my income in 1 year using my 6 Monitor computer rig.

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  9. I have a 30-inch monitor as my main monitor, and a 24-inch monitor in portrait mode as a secondary monitor. I face the 30-inch monitor head-on, and the secondary monitor is off to the right. I’ve done many multi-monitor setups, including three monitor setups, and I think one very important principle is that you should have a principle monitor, and it should be a big one. If you have an odd number of monitors, that’s easy. It’s not so obvious when you have an even number of monitors, because you’ll have to place them asymmetrically to have a principle monitor. If you don’t have a principle monitor that you face head-on, you’re going to spend 100% of your day with your head cocked to one side. Ouch.

    Right now, the 30″, 24″ setup is working well. The 24″ in portrait mode is actually taller (both physically an in terms of pixels) than the 30″. It’s better for long documents or code or portrait-oriented photos. I can’t imagine going back to one screen for at-home work. Multiple monitors relax me.

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    1. hi. i have one trouble i cant multi monitor my one pc. My mainboard is Asrock G31S. is it enable? help me

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