It doesn’t matter how many productivity apps, keyboard shortcuts or life hacks you throw at your work. Without enough screen space, your productivity is always going to be hampered. Adding a second monitor to your workspace is a simple, affordable change that can transform your workflow and productivity. Here’s what you need to know.
Advantages of Using a Dual Monitor Setup
There are numerous advantages to using a dual-monitor setup. With more screen real estate, you can increase productivity. When you can see more (and switch between windows less), you can move more quickly through your tasks.
You can also use two (or even three or four) applications simultaneously, no switching required. In Windows, you can quickly drag a window to the side of the screen to automatically enter split-screen view. With two monitors, you can do this twice, for four apps at once — each completely visible.
Best of all, setting up two monitors isn’t complicated and doesn’t require a ton of IT knowledge. Here’s how to setup dual monitors on Windows 10.
How to Set Up Dual Monitors on Your Computer
If you already have your two monitors on hand, all that’s left is to set them up. Here are the four steps you’ll need to follow.
Step 1: Determine Your Computer’s Display Connection Types
This step is the most technical-sounding, but it’s not as hard as it might sound. There are several types of video connections on the market today, so the first step is determining what kinds of display connection ports your computer has.
The most common types are these:
- VGA (older, but still in wide use)
- DVI (older, and diminishing in use)
Your PC should have labels (or at least icons) on its display connection ports, which should help you determine what you’re working with.
The easiest way to connect two monitors is to make sure that both monitors can match with at least one video output port on your PC. For example, if your computer has only a DisplayPort and a VGA connection, you’ll have the simplest time if you buy two monitors that have both of those connection types.
What if you’ve already bought your monitors and they don’t match the connection types on your computer? Good news: you can buy adapters that will convert just about any display connection to nearly any other. Simply search for “HDMI to VGA” or whatever configuration you’d need.
Pro tip: to function properly, the adapter should sit between the cable and the PC — not the other way around.
Step 2: Plug in Power and Video Cables
Once you’ve determined that your PC and monitors can connect (or have acquired the necessary adapters), it’s time to plug everything in. Plug in the monitors’ power cables and power on the monitors. You should see some light near the power button (typically), plus the display itself should begin emitting light (and usually displaying some sort of “no input detected” message).
Once you’re sure the monitors are on, connect the video cables to the monitors and then to your computer.
You should see something computer-related on both monitors. If so, on to step 3. If you don’t, skip to step 4.
Step 3: Configure Your Displays
The first time you plug in a second display, there’s no telling which way your PC will decide to orient it. Sometimes you’ll see a mirror image on both screens, even though what you really want to know is how to extend screen on Windows. Sometimes the second display will default to a bad resolution, where everything is way too big or way too small.
Right-click on the desktop and pick “Display settings.” Here you can configure a number of settings, including resolution, turning off screen mirroring, and arranging the displays.
Step 4: Troubleshoot as Necessary
Sometimes nothing will display on the new monitor. Usually, this is because the monitor isn’t displaying the correct input. If this happens, use the button controls on the monitor itself to manually select the right input type.
Sometimes the monitors will seem backward or uneven when you try to move the mouse from one to the other. If so, open up “Display settings.” Click “Identify” to show which display is which, and then click and drag the on-screen rectangles to position them to match real life.
Once you can see appropriately-sized content on both screens and the mouse moves evenly between the two, you know you’ve set up your dual monitors correctly.
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