SCORE Small Business Blog

Technology: Extend Your Computer Desktop with a Second Monitor

You probably already have a powerful tool that will save you a lot of time, but it’s sitting around collecting dust. What is it? An old monitor. Dust it off and put it to work by using it as an extension of your desktop. Simply connect it to your laptop or computer.

Here are some things you’ll be able to do:

It's easy to set up your second monitor and it will save you so much time.

  • Research the Net on one and drag the information to the other.
  • View your Outlook calendar on one and email on the other.
  • Read instructions on one and perform the steps on the other.
  • And so much more!
On my laptop, I plugged a monitor into the same blue port that I use for a projector. If you use a desktop, you’ll have to take an extra step. Instructions for connecting an additional monitor to your computer/laptop for Windows XP are at this link.

Note: Under the instruction “to move items between monitors” add the following:

  • Double-click the top of a display screen (your blue bar) to resize your screen (Restore).
  • Then drag an item on your desktop across your screen until it appears on the other monitor.

If you use Windows Vista, the instructions at the link work the same except getting there is different. Instead of clicking Properties when you right-click on the Windows Desktop, click Personalize, Display Settings, and go from there with the same instructions.

This monitor can function in landscape or portrait mode.

This monitor swivels to portrait mode.

You will love using dual monitors. It’ll take you a few minutes to get used to it, but you’ll be glad you did. To take it to another level, purchase a monitor that you can swivel to portrait view (check out Hewlett-Packard’s w2408 24 inch LCD Monitor…Google it). Also check out UltraMon(TM) from Realtime Soft if you want to do more with multiple monitors such as having a Taskbar on each one.

One more thing: to view your Outlook calendar on one monitor and email on the other, right-click the Calendar icon, Open in New Window. Then drag the calendar to the other monitor.

If you went from one monitor to two or more, let me know how much it has helped. Or once you set yours up, let me know what you think.

Peggy Duncan, SCORE Atlanta
View more posts by Peggy

I’m a productivity and technology speaker, trainer, author, and consultant. I own The Digital Breakthroughs Institute in Atlanta GA.
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Discussion (15) Comment

  1. ShaneVisitor

    This also works on ANY digital Television with an S-video connection. Some TV’s also have a monitor connector. I use (2) 65″ Sony TVs, side by side. Half of the picture is on both sides which creates 1 full 130″ picture. Have’nt had a cable bill in almost 2 years! Anyone who is not using this feature is missing out!!!!!!

  2. Peggy DuncanVisitor

    Cate, drag the document to the other monitor and see if it will correct itself the next time you open.

  3. CateVisitor

    Thanks so much; I, too, have been wanting to set up dual monitors, and your instructions were spot on. However, i’m having trouble getting my monitors to behave. I can drag a folderto the extended monitor, but when I attempt to open the word document, i opens in the original monitor. Do you have any clues what I am doing wrong?

  4. RuriVisitor

    I ever try this method. But unfortunatelly my computer table is not wide enough. So If I use 2 monitors. I should put one of them on the floor and this is not really good to increase my work effectiveness.

  5. These are great tips.
    Very usefful for those who needs to work two or more softwares at same time. For exemple when I have to simulate some programs.
    Nice article! Congrats.

  6. Peggy DuncanVisitor

    Hi Rick, thanks for your comment. Some days I wish I had 3 or 4 monitors, but I’m afraid I’d start multi-tasking, which is not good.

  7. Rick JVisitor

    Another way to view spreadsheets across monitors is to stretch Excel across your two (or three!) monitors (not Maximize).

    Maximize fills 1 monitor’s screen. Instead, de-maximize (restore, don’t minimize) the window and expand the view across your monitors. It’s not my favorite way to work with two documents (I prefer having 2 instances of Excel going), but if trying to run two instances is not working for you, the stretch will work no matter how your monitors are setup.

    Sometimes, space problems force you to stack monitors versus place them side-by-side. One of my co-workers used 3 monitors setup with one on a stand and one to the side.

  8. Jason DragonVisitor

    Actually you can simply open different excel files in different instances of excel. The key to this is to run excel more than once. First you open the first file you want to edit. Then to open us more files in different excel boxes simply run a NEW copy of excel by clicking on the icon for excel, then open your file. This will let you put your spreadsheets on different screens.

    One thing I have used a lot is to arrange duel screens one on top of the other. I used to use a 21″ CRT and I put a 17″ LCD on top of it, I would use the CRT for most things and the LCD for my videos and such.

    Jason Dragon

  9. This is a really terrific idea–I’ve been working on a copy writing project for weeks, where I’ve had to go back and forth between my Word doc and two web sites–and it’s taking much longer than it should. I’m going to pull together a dual monitor set-up this afternoon! (The unwieldy nature of what I’ve been doing is keeping me from wanting to work on the project.)

  10. PeggyDuncanVisitor

    Thanks for all the great comments.

    Lisa, unfortunately, you will not be able to send a different Excel spreadsheet to each monitor in native Windows. When I’ve needed to compare, open all spreadsheets, then click Window, Arrange, Tiled. Click a spreadsheet to make it active.

    Or you could open all spreadsheets, then click Window, Compare side by side with…

    I like the first option better because it’s less confusing to my eyes.

    Note: Some software (e.g., FrontPage) will allow you to open in different Windows.

  11. Lisa JeffriesVisitor

    I read online recently (probably that a second screen can increase productivity something 20-30% (if I remember correctly)… having two screens today would been SO helpful when working with 3 different excel spreadsheets! Thanks for a super easy run-down and for thinking of those on laptops, desktops, XP, and Vista!

  12. MartiVisitor

    I had recently heard about how the use of two monitors increased effectiveness by reducing the “switching” time, so your post is timely. I now understand how this could help me and I’m going to dig that old monitor out and get it going.


    Marti Benjamin
    Business Energetix–Success Coaching

  13. ErikaVisitor

    Thank you for the information and simple lesson. My husband is a computer programmer and has this setup at work. He is wanting to do this at home and after reading your post I think it is a great idea.


  14. everydaymanVisitor

    I’ve always wanted to try this one.. having two monitors just feel like those hardcore hackers in the movies and I’m gonna take a picture of myself as soon as I get a chance to try this one.

    And that revolving monitor… nothing beats that yet..

  15. Peggy DuncanVisitor

    Ruri, first, is your desk cluttered? If so, I guess you know what I’d suggest you do to make room for the monitor. Another option is to get a small table and put next to your desk. The newer monitors aren’t as heavy as older ones. Or a bracket of some sort might fit your desk. Do a quick Google search on “dual monitors” to find some ideas. If all else fails, buy a bigger desk…it’ll be worth it in time saved.


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