Using Multiple Monitor Taskbars – Making the Most of Your Multiple Screens

According to Suzanne Ross of Microsoft Research, if you “Give someone a second monitor, let them use it for a while, and then try and take it away, it just isn’t going to happen.”  But this article is about more than just using a multiple monitor setup; it’s about maximizing the effectiveness of your multiple screens.  Here’s the thing, these days it’s pretty easy to get your multiple monitors setup.  Finding the right parts and a tutorial do so is not a problem.  But one problem that people are running into is that both of your monitors are not created equal.  But there are solutions for that and we’re going to discuss them right now!

Here’s a big problem:  your task bar in Windows only expands into your main Window.  So that means much of the time you’d save is wasted dragging your mouse back and forth between screens.  The solution to that problem is to have your menu bar expanded on to your second screen as well, and this is actually rather easy to do with a program called MultiMon Task Bar (you can download it free here: http://www.mediachance.com/free/multimon.htm).  The neat thing about this program is that instead of display all programs on your main windows task bar, they are displayed on the task bar in the monitor in which they are open.  Originally this was designed as an in house program for the firm that is distributing it, but they decided to release both a free and paid version for all of you multi-monitor people out there.

Yet another problem that some multiple monitor users have is that they are using multiple screens between multiple systems.  For example, they may have a laptop, a desktop with Windows and a Mac on their desk.  Traditionally, you’d be using 3 different mice and 3 keyboards too.  This creates a number of problems, including but not limited to desk space, confusion and more.  It really limits what you’re able to do on your desktop.  Fortunately there is a solution for this problem- a program called Synergy is an open source application that allows you to use only one mouse and keyboard across multiple screens.  It works very similar to having multiple monitors setup on one computer, you simply move the mouse to the edge of the screen to the next screen.  In addition, you can actually use Synergy to synchronize all of your screensavers as well.  It’s a hand program that will save you a ton of time.  You can find it here: http://synergy-foss.org/

While this may not technically qualify as a “problem” per se, having traditional wallpaper on your multiple monitor computer system isn’t exactly cool- and let’s face it, aside from all the time saving advantages you really do want to look cool with your new multiple monitor system, right?  Well here is an easy way to do so, by using multiple monitor wallpaper that will make your desktop look super slick.  According to the guys over at http://lifehacker.com/5114997/best-places-to-find-multi+monitor-wallpaper, here are some of the best places to find multiple monitor wallpaper for a variety of number of screens:

  1.   Devian Art- http://browse.deviantart.com/customization/wallpaper/multidisplay/?order=9
  2.   Adolescent Eyes- http://smoovie.deviantart.com/art/Adolescent-Eyes-sup3-32155008
  3.   Vlad Studios- http://www.vladstudio.com/wallpapers/
  4.   Social Wallpapering- http://www.socwall.com/
  5.   Digital Blasphemy – http://www.digitalblasphemy.com/freegallery.shtml
  6. http://mintywhite.com/tech/category/wallpaper/
  7. http://www.dualscreenwallpaper.com/
  8. http://www.dualmonitorbackgrounds.com/

Of course another trick you can try is just going to http://images.google.com and searching for “multiple monitor wallpaper.”   You should be able to find some nice wallpaper doing that.  If you have high-end DVI monitors then make sure you search for HD multiple monitor wallpaper.

If you are considering putting together a multiple monitor computer system, then you are making a wise decision, and if you follow the tips listed above then you’ll almost certainly get more out of your multiple monitor system.   Little things that you can do, like not having to slide back and forth to find programs in your task bar DO make a BIG difference.  That’s why it’s important to take advantage of all the resources you have available to manage your multiple monitor computer system.  If you do so, you’ll find that using multiple monitors will be a more enjoyable experience overall.