Windows 10 Dual Monitor

When you connect an additional monitor to your computer, Windows will automatically detect the monitors and displays your computer’s desktop. You can then choose how you want your desktop to appear and customize the display settings such as Display Style, Screen Resolution and Color Depth.

Adding an extra monitor to your desktop can do wonders for your productivity. Just ask anyone who’s already done so — they’ll make a believer out of you. In Windows it’s surprisingly easy to use more than one screen, though exactly what you need depends mostly on what you already have.

Windows 10 New Features

  1. Easily move Windows apps to another monitor
    • You can easily move Windows apps to another monitor by grabbing it along the top edge and dragging it from one monitor to another. If the app is snapped, it will be snapped on the other monitor as well.
    • You can also move Windows apps from one monitor to another using the keyboard shortcuts Win + Pg Up and Win + Pg Down.
  2. Taskbars are now shown on all monitors by default
    • With multiple monitors attached, Windows 10 will draw the taskbar across each monitor. By default, all taskbar icons are displayed on the main monitor, and the taskbar on all other monitors.
    • The Taskbar is configurable in multiple displays using Taskbar Properties.
  3. Span desktop background across all monitors
    • You can now span a single panoramic picture across multiple monitors. We are also including a new panoramic theme in the personalization options for Windows 10.
    • To set this up, pick a panoramic desktop image and select Span as the picture position.

Per Monitor Action

After you connect the monitors to your computer, you can select the Display Style that best suits your needs. You can choose from one of the following four options on how the desktop is displayed:

  • PC Screen Only: The second monitor is ignored and only the primary monitor is used.
  • Duplicate: The second monitor mirrors the primary monitor.
  • Extend: The desktop of your PC is extended across the two monitors and allows you to have a desktop that spans across both monitors.
  • Second Screen Only: The primary monitor will be disabled and only the secondary monitor will be used.

To get started, right-click on an empty space on your desktop and select Display settings towards the bottom of the context menu. Alternatively, you can go to Start > Settings > System > Display.

Once you’re there, you’ve won half the battle. You should see a graphical layout of your monitor set-up. In this case I have a laptop display labeled 1 and an external monitor labeled 2.

Underneath that you’ll see a slider called Change the size of text, apps, and other items: 100% (Recommended). This is where we want to be, but before you start moving the slider around, check to see which monitor is highlighted.

In this case, the laptop monitor is highlighted in blue, but I don’t want to change the scaling for this display as the 1366-by-768 view is just fine. The larger 1080p monitor, however, would look better with a little scaling applied.

All I do is click on monitor 2 in the Settings screen as seen above, and then start moving the slider. Windows 10 offers pre-sets for each monitor. In the case of this 1080p monitor my choices were 125, 150, and 175 percent, while the laptop’s 1366-by-768 display maxes out at 125 percent. Your mileage may vary. Once you’re happy with the scaling percentage you’d like to try, hit Apply and that single monitor’s scaling will change while the others remain the same.

You’ll also see a warning that says you should sign-in and out again from Windows to make sure your apps look their best. That’s no joke. Definitely sign-in and out again at this point. This may be a crucial move for some. In my initial tests, the taskbar disappeared after I scaled up and I only got it back after signing out.

Once you’re back, you may notice that some apps completely suck at the new resolution, while others rock. If I had to guess this is more about developers packaging low DPI assets in their programs than anything else. Using per-monitor scaling isn’t a perfect switch right now, but at least the taskbar is easier to see and Windows itself looks great.

Hardware for Laptops

Laptop owners, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that your laptop probably already has the ability to use a multi-monitor setup! The bad news is that you can probably only use dual monitors — one external monitor and your laptop’s built-in screen.

Check on either side of your laptop and find the video port. Depending on your manufacturer and the age of your laptop, it may be VGA, DVI, HDMI, or DisplayPort. Most modern systems offer HDMI or DisplayPort. A few — Macs in particular — use Thunderbolt, which is compatible with DisplayPort monitors.

Most laptops have only one video-out option, so depending on the compatibility of your external monitor, you may need an adapter on top of a video cable. If you have HDMI-out and a DisplayPort monitor, for example, you’ll need an adapter to connect. Plug the cable and any necessary adapters in, turn your monitor on, and Windows should detect it automatically.