Two Monitors Are Better Than One

Since writing about my photo session with BC Business Magazine, I’ve received a bunch of comments and emails asking how I run two monitors at the same time and what monitors I was using.

Coming from a tech background, I was quite taken back by this. I figured everyone knows that Windows can support more than one monitor. Most video cards today have two video outputs, which allow you to hook up two monitors. To enable the seconds monitor, you just go into your display properties and turn it on. There are several options to run your dual setup. For example, you can have monitor two display the same information as monitor one. This is good if you’re giving a presentation – you work on monitor one and the customers watches from monitor two.

You can also span your desktop across the two monitors so it becomes one big monitor. This will allow you to drag windows from one monitor to the other. Having a big desktop and running multiple windows at the same time really improves your productivity. Many people think that dual monitors are just for showing off but once you’ve gone dual, you will never go back to a single monitor setup.

The LCD Monitors I Use


The monitors I use are from Dell. They are 20.1″ wide screen units that offer 1680 x 1050 resolution. When combined together, they create a 3360 x 1050 desktop. That is enough to put four 800×600 windows side by side. While most people run their dual setup like my BC Business photo session, I have tried it this way.

Dual Dell LCD

The above actually works very well. The screen on the left can still be used for viewing movies or playing computer games, while the screen on the right is great for reading web pages and working with MS Word files. Another nice advantage of right screen is it allows for a much better view of certain types of wallpaper. 😈


110 thoughts on “Two Monitors Are Better Than One”

  1. Glenn Wolsey says:

    I’ll be going a similar route when I purchase my Mac Pro later this year, using Dual 24″ Dell displays.

    1. Don Wilson says:

      The 2407WFP (24″) from Dell is the best monitor I’ve ever used.

      1. yeah, I bet…it might be a little too much for me, I doubt I need that big of dual monitors

        1. Eric says:

          Why not just use one really big monitor?

          Hmm…

          1. John Chow says:

            Why not use two really big monitors? 😈

          2. Entrepreneur says:

            My partner uses a 32″ widescreen HD TV as his monitor, it works great for him.

  2. I’ve been seriously considering this kind of set-up in my own workspace; thanks for the little intro there, John. Mandy Moore as a desktop background though…I’m not to sure about that LOL.

    1. yeah me too….it would be nice to have two 20 inch wide screen..i do not know if I need it, but it looks nice .. 😀

    2. Eric says:

      Yeah… should probably be Scarlett Johanneson.

      haha

  3. Pretty neat setup, John.. and yes, I can certainly appreciate the advantages of the screen on the right 😆

    1. Entrepreneur says:

      Oh what will we do with John and his uh…wallpaper? 🙂

  4. Hanson So says:

    Haha! 😀 That last part made me laugh. Yes I was also wondering about the monitor thing. I guess I’ll have to really try it out myself.

    You should add that to the 8th habits of highly successful people.

    1. ya 8th habit should be wall paper of a beautiful girl for increasing prodictivity lol

      1. or guy depending on who’s doing the work on the computer 😉

      2. Entrepreneur says:

        I don’t think that’s going to increase productivity guys.

  5. iCatchUp says:

    Having bigger monitor makes it so easy and efficient to work on a PC, but if you have dual monitor I can imagine it must be awesome. I will try to have a setup like yours one day!.

  6. kuanhoong says:

    Yup, I am working with two monitors too. As the saying goes “The more the merrier” 😛

    1. Jeff Kee says:

      3 makes company.

      1. Kumiko says:

        I use a one monitor setup that utilizes two mouses and three keyboards. 😀

        1. Coincidentally, that’s sorta what I have right now, but it’s all going to change soon. I really want to get my hands on a second monitor — and ultimately a bigger table.

        2. one monitor , 2 mouse and 3 keyboards…wow how many cpus are you running Kumika? Thats overkill of the monitor:)

        3. how many hands you got over there Kumiko?

      2. GOLD says:

        I Use 4 19″ (mostly for trading) 👿

      3. Jeff…you mean you don’t have your entire wall made of screens… ❓

  7. Moulinneuf says:

    Matrox as been selling triplehead for some time now

    http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/gxm/products/th2go/digital/home.php

    :mrgreen:

    (disclaimer : I used to work for one of there card maker sub contractor in CANADA )

  8. Moulinneuf says:

    Bill Gates is like John Chow and he too use dual head systems :

    http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/30/news/newsmakers/gates_howiwork_fortune/index.htm

    1. John Chow says:

      Bill has three monitors. He’s special. 😈

      1. Moulinneuf says:

        1) For Mail system
        2) To do work / answer mail / browse web
        3) Bill Gate fortune clock ( like the US or CANADA debt clock ) to see how much money and interest he made today by the seconds 😈

        You should ask him about that direct link to the bank windows plugin 😉 , the article is titled *How I Work* and the picture cut out one of the monitor. Its probably in the upgrade picture serial pack 3 … 😎

        :mrgreen:

      2. I’m surprised it’s only 3 he has

        1. Eric says:

          Hmm… Eric’s Fortune Clock… I like the sound of that

          One day

  9. Jeff Kee says:

    I wish i had the space for that…

  10. Paul. says:

    I upgraded to dual 20″ Dells last month. It’s the best money I’ve ever spend on a computer related product.

    My only regret is that I didn’t cough up the extra money to get 22’s.

    1. i think its an obsession, after a while 32 inch will seem smaller 😀

  11. Matt says:

    Speaking of which… Does anyone wanna buy my Dell 2405 fpw? I bought it for $1100 US about 1 year ago. works great, nothing wrong with it. I would sell for about $550 US.

  12. john you’re a true evil, you take every oppotunity to make money online. i’ve got to say, this is clever: giving helpful advice while earning commission as well as promoting your own company ttzmedia…

    1. James says:

      Notice how he didn’t even say buy this. Just a this is what I do type recommendation. Well done.

      1. that’s why Chow is the man! 🙂

      2. Entrepreneur says:

        Well the dual monitor setup is awesome anyway. Really helps productivity.

  13. green says:

    I have 20 inc Samsung 205BW, and i would like to have a second lcd like the right one.
    I also have 17 inc flat but its becoming old day by day :mrgreen:

  14. santosh p says:

    Well, For me 2 moniters was a boon a year back. especially for designers where you can run Photoshop or graphic tool, and webpages hunting for stock pics on other. and And also testing images full screen.

    My setup works with 2 moniters a cpu, and a laptop. Works great espcially when you want a large version of your data in ur laptop 🙂

    For people who want to test the dual setup, is if you have a laptop, just connect your existing moniter to your laptop display output, and on properties select extended display and experience the dual view setup.

  15. Mandy Moore FTW!!!!!

    2 times 20.1″ 1600×1200 monitors running Fedora for me BTW!

    No Mandy Moore though! That would be pushing my Engineer vs IT relations just a little too far. Just got banned from visiting Myspace and YouTube today!

  16. wow, the dell lcds are only 400$ now?

    back when i got my viewsonic 20″ they were 700 each…

  17. wow they are only 400 dollars now? back when i got my 20 inch viewsonic it was 700 each.. 🙁

  18. hm my comments dont seem to be showing up, strange… testing

  19. Merija says:

    Not bad wallper on the right monitor 😉
    I am using just one monitor so far…

  20. Pallab says:

    In somewhat related news Microsoft India is researching on a software that would split one monitor into two sections thus functioning as dual monitors.
    This is mainly intended for small business.
    More Info

    1. Matthew says:

      Is that mainly so that 2 users can share 1 monitor?

      1. Matthew says:

        I re read the article and thats exactly what it means. Its a nice idea for parts of the world where technology is still out of reach for people.

    2. green says:

      Ya i heard it, i tried to simulate this project with a virtual machine but no success 🙁

  21. ricardo says:

    Hi John,

    I use 3 Tft’s 🙂

    2×20″ Acer’s at 1600×1200 and 1x a 17″ widescreen (from my laptop) … I need it for web developing :).

    The only problem is, that it doesnt work very well on linux with XGL :(… that would make 12 desktops (3×4 cubes) 🙂

    greetz

  22. Wes Mahler says:

    lol at last comment john!

  23. Ali says:

    What do you do when your wife walks in to see a bikini clad women as your desktop, my wife certainly wouldn’t appreciate that.

    I’m conservative anyway.

    1. Pallab says:

      Well, that your husband likes a bikini clad woman shouldn’t really be disturb any wife. If anything it would be reassuring 😆 .

    2. Entrepreneur says:

      I don’t know, I doubt my fiancee would be very understanding 🙂

  24. hem acharya says:

    JohnChow.com has 4444 feed readers today… lets celebrate… … congrats…. john

    from hem

    1. nice wow that grew by like 200 in a day

      1. Entrepreneur says:

        It fluctuates a lot. It’s not uncommon for John’s RSS readership to go up or down a few hundred from day to day.

  25. Cool . . . I was wondering about the two monitors thing too. Too bad that the only extra monitor I have is a cheap one that was manufactured when I graduated high school!

  26. Mihai says:

    great idea with the monitor on the right.
    with lots of firefox extensions and toolbars the space left for text seems to get smaller and smaller.

  27. Slaptijack says:

    Those Dell 20.1″ monitors are great. I’d recommend them to anyone looking to buy a new monitor.

  28. egon says:

    This last Christmas I got a 22″ widescreen (1680×1050) and a 19″ widescreen (1440×900) that replace my old single 15″ screen. I don’t know how I even worked on that little thing. I could never go back.

  29. Philip Yong says:

    When I earn as much as you then I’ll do the same 😆

  30. grandcanuck says:

    Great post John.

    In the stock trading environments, multi-monitor setups are common. We keep rolling out more and more screens. Most trading stations have 3 or 4 monitors now.

    We also use this nifty tool to control multiple computers from one mouse and keyboard without the use of an external KVM switch. Works great as long the computers are on the same network. At work, I have a permanent setup between two multi-head computers. I even use it at home so I can control my laptop from my main workstation’s keyboard and mouse. You can even cut, copy and paste between the two machines and it’s cross-platform. You can read more here: http://charlesgagnon.com/stoploss/?p=129

  31. Mike Panic says:

    It is worth noting that Dell makes a 22″ widescreen version of the monitors you are using… they are pointless. If you are shopping for monitors, avoid them because they run the same 1680×1050 resolution as John’s 20.1″ monitors.

    Coming from a tech / photography background, two monitors makes a ton of sense. The abilit to use one for image editing and manipulation and the 2nd to put all the Photoshop tools, aim, Firefox, etc. is great.

  32. Dax Desai says:

    There are some software packages out there that improve your multiple monitor setup.

    I’ve written on my blog about the benefits as well as some recommendations on software to enhance the setup – most of which is free!

    Increase Productivity with Dual Monitors

    Enhancing Dual Monitor Setup with Software

    My setup is not as good yet. I got a Samsung 20.1″ monitor and now I’m working on the “wings” of my setup. I use my setup for analyzing stocks/trading. I have one window that permanently has my trading platform up. Another window for charting, another for news, and yet another for docs. I will add another monitor (as soon as I clean my desk).

  33. I’m surprised no one is drooling over the background with the CCX…but with a pic of Mandy Moore distracting them I guess who can blame them…? 😎

    1. Dax Desai says:

      What there’s something on the other monitor? ha ha

  34. Dax Desai says:

    When you’re ready to upgrade to 30″, I know a guy in Dallas that will gladly “Reuse” those 20’s. 😛

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle right?

    1. lol…you’ve been listening to too much Jack Johnson! lol 😀

    2. Entrepreneur says:

      I’m sure John will sell you his old ones when he upgrades 🙂

  35. Nice wallpapers! :), I will have to consider having two monitors just for that, my actual wallpaper is a BabyTUX (The Linux pet) :).
    At least my 5 year old daughter likes it 🙂

  36. blogdinero says:

    Remembers me the discussion of last year, two husbands was better than one. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    1. John Chow says:

      I use to run multi-girlfriends but that required a lot of maintainants.

      1. blogdinero says:

        😮 dos esposos equivale a dos billeteras

      2. blogdinero says:

        😮 dos esposos equivale a dos billeteras 😳

  37. Josh Kaufman says:

    Hello there John, Long-time, no comment. I like your setup but I think still prefer my 32inch lcd monitor from poloroid. It makes my 19inch monitor at the office look really small!
    Anyway, I wanted to thank you for helping me learn to make money online. I have followed your formula and it has paid off. Although joshkaufmanblog.com has screeched to a halt, the Video Tabs Archive is thriving and growing everyday! Between TLA and adsense I am now making almost a few hundred a month. Perhaps you could write a post about how one could fill more ad spots on TLA.
    Furthermore, I am planning starting a small network of niche video sites based on the same model as the Video Tabs Archive.
    Keep up the amazing work here and I’ll see you in another comment soon.

  38. Ronbo says:

    Hey John –

    I’m new to the blogging world and I’m trying to learn as much as I can as quick as I can. I subscribed to your blog just a few weeks ago, because well, you’re blog rocks. Since you’ve given me a wealth of information, I want to contribute a little something by recommending a little piece of software to everyone that uses dual monitors – UltraMon.

    http://realtimesoft.com/ultramon/

    I use three monitors to get through my day (yes, just like Bill 😀 ), and UltraMon has made my “multi-tasking” life so much less painful. Basically, UltraMon will extend your task bar across your monitors so that the windows will be minimized on the appropriate monitors. This is mainly what I use it for, but in addition to that it has many other features. I’m pretty sure you can just demo it to see what you think…

    Keep up the good work!

    ~ Ronbo

    1. John Chow says:

      Yes I use Ultramon. It’s great for adding separate wallpapers on each monitor.

  39. Oyvind says:

    You may want to read my post “buy a bigger display”, with data on why a bigger display and better, links to research etc.

  40. Tyler Ingram says:

    I run dual 19″ monitors at work. Can’t work without it, if I had the money I’d have dual monitors at home too.

    I tried setting up 2x 20.1 WS Dells like Johns but one of my video cards is too old and can’t support the resolution is needed.

    So I have to stick to the dual 19s until I get better cards.

  41. Rich Minx says:

    Once you’ve had two monitors you never go back. I’d go wild and buy three!

    1. Now that would be a hellofa video card there.

  42. I like how you adjusted the second screen. 🙂

    I have a three screen setup like this:

    http://www.massmultiples.com/products/c17/c3p17d.htm

  43. I use one 19 ince and another is my laptop screen…but i have been thinking to move to a 20 inch wide….but i guess you need a more powerful machine(dual core) to supprt the load

    1. Tyler Ingram says:

      why would you need a more powerful machine?

      Machine specs have really nothing to do with what monitor you use unless the video card can’t support the resolution.

      You could be running like an old AMD K62 500Mhz with 3, 20″ WS LCDs if you had a video card that would work with the system, and I know Matrox did in those days 😉

      1. hhmmm thats good to know. 🙂 ..currrently i m runnin a P3 733Hz(i know old school) so things kinda slow down at times on one monitor so i m guessing i need a upgrade before a dual monitor could provide a good experience

  44. James says:

    I guessing you took the photo of your wife and kids of the left one just for this post? 🙂

  45. This is actually a little bit of a shock. I would figure more of your readers would know how to do simple things like this.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. But then again, there must be a lot of Mac users that doesn’t support dual screen.

  46. Nice wall paper you got on those screens John 🙂

    1. The car is making me salivate, that’s for sure; not too thrilled with Miss Mandy in a bikini though.

      1. Entrepreneur says:

        shows you how much I know, I thought it was Jessica Alba 😮

  47. Wolf Stone says:

    I use my two 20″ monitors to multi-table poker games but they are fun to have for other daily dealings also.

  48. So does a laptop already had the ability to run two monitors at the same time? Considering it has one installed, and another monitor port in the back? I use my laptop as my main computer and rarely move it, so this could work. I’m assuming the video card within the laptop can already support two monitors. Anyone know for sure??

  49. Shawn Knight says:

    I have been running dual monitors for a few years now and they are great! I would never even consider going back to a single monitor setup. I have two 22″ widescreen LCDs on my main work system.

    http://shawn.ocia.net/photos/workarea1.jpg

    If you do any type of work on the internet, I would highly recommend looking into dual mons.

    1. Looks like your dorm Shawn…what machine do you have…the casing is slick?

    2. Gotta love that Mountain Dew…pretty cool set-up you got there, Shawn. Now I REALLY want another monitor. :mrgreen:

  50. Eric says:

    I know a lot of professional poker players who keep three monitors up… just to keep track of all their games.

    I’m not one of them

    1. Lol, I’ve seen a video of 7 monitors with 3 operating systems in Youtube, all powered by Synergy, take a look:

      http://youtube.com/watch?v=Id3GHAruhAk

  51. thushara dissanayaka says:

    I like to have this card

  52. Glenn says:

    Here is my setup with 2 dual monitor cards…
    http://www.dehtrader.com/stuff/monitorsfront.jpg
    And I now have 5 flatscreens. 1 more to go.

    1. That’s quite a lot of graphs you got there, Glenn. Do you really need six of those? You know what, John could have a contest on the coolest looking workspace; that would be awesome. With 5-going-on-6 monitors, I’m pretty sure you’ll be getting a lot of nods. 😎

    2. I think 3 is enough for me, but that looks cool! 🙂

  53. I dual monitor between my laptop screen and LCD monitor, and your right once you get used to this setup you will never want to go back to one screen.

  54. vinay says:

    Hi John,
    Could you please post up the full high-res version of that picture of your dual set-up. I really like the background of the uh.. Koenigsegg.

    -Vinay

  55. I am counting the hours until my second monitor arrives — can’t wait! 😀

  56. Chicago 2016 says:

    Ha, I assume what’s pictured on the monitors are two of your favorite things, eh?

  57. Chicago 2016 says:

    If anything, you can buy an extra monitor that has a TV tuner card. Talk about multitasking…

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