Web Culture

2 Main Positioning Approaches To Make Use Of A Dual Monitor Configuration

Tim Lenahan 28-01-2010

dualmonitorsetupIn the past articles I wrote about using a dual monitors configuration, we have discussed ways to do so more 6 Ways to Set Up Dual Monitors to Be More Productive Read More productive 6 MORE Ways To Set Up Dual Monitors To Be More Productive Read More , what programs 3 Useful Programs That Help Manage Multiple Monitors Read More can help, and different types of users 3 Dual Monitor User Types That Make Good Use Of Their Setup Read More .  Through writing those articles, I have come to realize that there are basically two approaches to making use of dual monitors: having a major and minor monitor and having two equal monitors.  Let me explain what I mean.


Some people (like me) prefer to have one monitor set directly in front of them and they use it for the main tasks.  They have the second monitor either set to the side or above the main monitor and use it for minor tasks such as referencing and background tasks such as playing music, etc.  Personally, I use it for both plus I toss stuff onto the minor monitor that I want to read later and bring them to the main one when I’m ready to tackle them.

Other people like to use both monitors equally and have a dual monitor configuration where they are positioned more equally in front of them.  They could have two very important tasks that they need to do simultaneously.  I suppose a designer could have tools on one site and a view of the project on the other.  Some people may even have something they’re working on span both monitors.

What I did was scour Flickr to find examples of both approaches to making use of dual monitors.  Let’s take a look and see how it’s done.

1. The Major and Minor Monitor Approach

dual monitor configuration

It appears that nicksieger is using one monitor as the main workstation.  Notice that the keyboard, mouse and light are centered over it and how the second monitor is off to the side.  I’m not totally sure what’s going on but the main monitor seems to have some sort of coding but I don’t know about the second monitor.  Either way, it’s off to the side in more of a referencing or glancing position.


dual monitor setup

Andy Beal‘s setup has one monitor set to one side in order to keep an eye on social media, etc. and has some browsing going on with the main monitor.  While I do rely on browser plugins to keep up with my Twitter fetish, having a secondary monitor to keep an eye on Facebook is very helpful.  Andy seems to be doing something similar.

2. The Two Equal Monitors Approach

dual monitor configuration

smemon87‘s setup is a good example of an equal monitor approach.  He is doing what I do when using WordPress: use one for blogging and the other for previewing.  Basically, if you hit the “Preview” button, you get another tab opening to preview the article.  Pop it into its own window onto the second monitor and it’ll refresh whenever you hit “Preview” again.  Very cool!


dual monitor setup

memoreks seems to be doing the “browsing in one and email in the other” thing.  For me, I’d have to do one of these at a time.  Basically that’s why I prefer one monitor to be dominant.  If I’m browsing, I’ll pop the browser into the main monitor.  If I’m working on an email, I’ll switch that program over.  Some people prefer to have them both on an even playing field and that’s OK too.

There you have it, both basic approaches with some good examples of each.  Which approach do you prefer?  Or would you rather have both monitors so close it seems they’re looking back at you? Like tmray02‘s setup here.



Let us know your preferred dual monitor configuration.  What do you use your main monitor for?

Related topics: Computer Monitor, Digital Art, Multiple Monitors.

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  1. Ikomu
    August 29, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Very long stories, too many examples. Doesn't really address the issue or the fix for it in my opinion. Keep tutorials short and to the point.

  2. Techzilla
    May 17, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    The real choice is not as you've presented, becasue the first choice is not an ideal,... even your use senerio describes how it's not ideal.

    The true choice is between 2 equally large monitors, or one large and two smalls. the keyboard always in the center either way. In front of the big of three, or between the two equals. If doing the three, many find it best to flip the wings 90 degrees. Better still if the middle is large enough, and the wings small enough, so it lines up when the minors are flipped.

  3. Ryan
    January 29, 2010 at 7:16 am

    As an Audio Engineer, I have to keep my studio monitors (speakers) at an equal distant from me and to each other. So if I'm 2.5' from the left speaker, the right has to be 2.5' away from the left and 2.5' away from me. Unfortunately, if I use a side-by-side approach to dual-monitors (displays), I would have to sit 4'-5' away from my desk... leaving my keyboard and mouse inaccessible.

    With a Top-Bottom dual-monitor setup, I can have a primary display directly in front of me, and have a second monitor above that (tilted down) to display other essential data. Not to mention, a little neck movement every so often can really help out.

    To do this, you need a vertical Dual-Monitor stand and monitors with VESA mounts. These range anywhere between $150-$300

  4. HIcycles
    January 28, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    i've got two at work, as a major/minor setup. I usually have reference material on the minor to glance at while working in the main monitor. Works really well. I wish I had this set up at home...

  5. Dean Pomerleau
    January 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Why pick one instead of the other. Here is my 4 monitor setup, with my laptop driving its own display, and three 1920x1200 monitors using its native VGA remote display output, and two Tritton SEE2 Xtreme USB2->DVI converters:


    It is sweet to have an effective display area of 4320 vs 1920 pixels!



  6. Michael Wales
    January 28, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    I prefer the side-by-side approach but my desk isn't large enough nor are my monitors the same size so I had to take the major-minor approach.

    It took some getting used to ti but I am actually starting to enjoy this approach now. Major is a 21-inch Dell Widescreen LCD, Minor is a 17-inch Prologic standard LCD.

    When working on a site, major will have my code, Photoshop, etc. while minor will have the site loaded in the browser. When playing WoW, major houses the game, minor houses a browser (for research or surfing the web during boring times, etc).

    Come to think of it, minor is basically just for browsing the web - it always has the browser in it, which is pretty much always up regardless of what is going on in major.

  7. mark
    January 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    As it's a open docked laptop with an external monitior, I use the monitor for all main tasks and laptop for reference tasks.

    Really wish I had a 3rd display.

  8. Bakari Chavanu
    January 28, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I prefer the side-by-side simply because I would hate having to look up to the second monitor. I use the second monitor mostly for viewing and referencing websites and open files. I have a few applications, like Tweetie, that I keep parked on the second monitor as well.