Multiple-Monitor Setups: Are Two Enough?


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 (s msft) 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?


Gertrude Jenkins

Why doesn’t everyone just buy one 60″ screen and call it a day?


My boss would like 6 30″ screens (dell 3007wfp) monitors in an arrangement like this on his desk. Do you know where to get a stand or stands for 30″ like that shown in the picture – I can’t make out the name on it.

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