Recently, I switched to a dual-monitor setup for working each day, and I’ll never go back. The productivity benefits were immediately apparent, and we’ve written before about how easy it is to switch to this type of setup. Both the Mac OS and Windows have support for dual monitors built in, and you can get, say, two 20-inch monitors for less money than a much larger display costs. After working with two monitors for a couple months now, I’ve collected some efficiency tips that can help get the most out of them. Here are three tips that have worked for me.
Mixing and matching browsers. In the past, I often fell into the trap of using one browser at a time and collecting tons of open tabs. That can increase crashing and slow performance down. With my dual monitors, I keep Firefox open on my left display, and Google Chrome open on my right display. Chrome is well-known for running applications and pages in tabs in such a way that if one tab goes down, the others won’t. But Chrome doesn’t yet have the customizability of Firefox, with its huge array of extensions. So, in the morning when I start opening all the applications I use, I reserve my “maximum uptime needed” applications for tabs in Chrome on my right display, and I reserve apps for which I can take advantage of Firefox extensions on my left display. This works well.
Mouse Muscle. If you haven’t used dual monitors before, one of the great things about the setup is that you can navigate across both displays as if you had one display. In other words, if I start with my mouse arrow over at the left-hand side of my left display and start moving to the right, I can move the arrow all the way over to the right-hand side of the right display as though I’m working with only one screen. This provides the perfect opportunity to take advantage of advanced ways to scroll, and speed-scroll, using a mouse with a control wheel. I previously wrote a post about many ways to do this, here. The scrolling tips are particularly useful with two displays.
A More Organized Desktop. If you’re like me, and you use a whole lot of software applications, your desktop gets cluttered very fast. When using one display in the past, I often had so many application icons on one desktop, that it would take me some time to find applications when I needed them. With two displays, I just use a simple organizational rule. I keep operating system utilities, other utilities, and any applications I’m going to open less frequently on the desktop displayed on my right monitor. I keep browsers, browser-specific applications, and all other applications that I open and close frequently on the left display. With this rule, I never find myself wasting time searching for a tool that I need.
Share your dual monitor efficiency tips in the comments.