Productivity Self Improvement Windows

How to Be More Productive with Dual Monitors

Sandy Writtenhouse 10-09-2015

You buy a larger desk and file away supplies so that you can have more workspace. When you have a limited area to work in, things get cluttered and piled on top of each other. You end up wasting valuable time to get to the items you need, if you can even find them.


The same can be said for your monitor space. Why squish and squeeze your much-needed workspace? Treat it like your desk and expand it using dual monitors. Not sure how having more than one monitor can work in your favor? Here are just a few ways the use of dual monitors can improve your productivity 6 Ways to Set Up Dual Monitors to Be More Productive Read More .


Battling the Split Screen

There is no doubt that the split screen view available to users comes close to the same thing as dual monitors. You can simply open two applications side-by-side Manage Start Screen Tiles & Modern Apps Like A Pro Some things take time to grow on you. The Windows 8 Start Screen is one of them. I bet you'll appreciate it more after learning about these tips and tricks. Read More . If you use the apps in Windows 8 or 10, you can easily pop them into a split screen view by just dragging them to either side of the screen. In Windows 8, you can even dock your desktop to one side How To Use Windows 8 Productively Despite Its Modern Interface Windows 8 has been getting plenty of hate, partly because people resist change. But change can bring improvements. Let us lift your veil of ignorance and demonstrate how to be more productive with the new... Read More , while having an app open on the other. In Windows 10, apps thankfully open in their own window and behave like desktop applications.


What is wrong with this approach? Well, nothing except the items you have open in the split screen view are not full-sized. You may have solved the problem of lesser clicks to maximize or minimize your applications, but you really have not expanded your workspace. You have just shrunk two applications down to fit and squeezed them into one space.


Now, if you do not have the option to use dual monitors for one reason or another, then definitely give the split screen option a try. But, if you can get that second monitor in action, you will be much happier with full views of your apps rather than mini-views.

Spare the Mouse and Stop the Click

First, think about the piling of items when you have limited space. If you can only fit one printout onto your tiny desk and have a report from your boss that you are comparing it to, how does that work? You cannot fit them side-by-side, right? Think of your monitor space the same way and take split screen views out of the picture.

You have your Web browser open for research Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: The Death Match for Research Writing Online solutions are becoming the norm. We decided to see how Microsoft Word stacks up against Google Docs. Which one will do the better research paper? Read More and your Microsoft Word document open to take notes. So, you read the website article and then click on your document to type some notes. You then either minimize the document or click the browser window to get it back. Then the cycle starts again. Click, click, up, down, up, down, click, click.

What you are doing is de-piling. Wouldn’t it be easier to have that browser open in one monitor with your document open in the other? You get a clear view of each application and never have to take your eyes off of the article or your fingers off the keyboard to capture your notes. No more click, click, click and no more wasted time with up, down, up, down.



An interesting study conducted by the Software Usability Research Laboratory, Witchita State University, involved 60 participants. Here are their findings on this specific aspect of dual monitor usage as compared to single monitor usage:

Participants tended to switch windows more often and click the mouse more in the single monitor configurations. Given the smaller amount of screen real estate, participants were forced to manage the windows by overlapping them or minimizing them.

Reduce the Risk of Errors

During your clicking, minimizing, and de-piling, have you ever accidentally closed out an application? Being able to see both full-sized applications at once means you are reducing this type of time-wasting mistake.

By extending your display you can also quickly drag items from one screen to another. Did you download all of the images for your brochure into the wrong folder? With the wrong folder on one display and the right folder on the other, just drag your items over to move them.



While copying from one document and pasting into another, have you ever made a mistake and didn’t realize it immediately? Try highlighting the text 10 Essential Microsoft Word Routines You Have to Know The word "routine" is the very image of boring. Except when it comes to a productivity app like Microsoft Word. Every second saved adds to the comfort of using it for our daily needs. Read More on one screen and just dragging it to its destination on the other without the need for a copy/paste action.

These are the types of efficiencies and error-reducing activities you can perform with dual monitors. With a quick glance of your eyes, while not even moving your head, you can easily see the applications you are working between and spot mistakes faster.

How Can This Really Help ME?

You might be thinking that two monitors works for some jobs or industries, but not yours, so why bother. Sure, programmers and developers How to Learn Programming Without All the Stress Maybe you've decided to pursue programming, whether for a career or just as a hobby. Great! But maybe you're starting to feel overwhelmed. Not so great. Here's help to ease your journey. Read More  can gain a lot of efficiency by writing their code on one monitor while having their output on the other. Seeing immediate results of their work this way certainly helps them be more productive. But, from experience I can tell you that this can work for far more jobs and industries than just Information Technology.


From writers to business analysts to video editors to account managers to sales people, if you work on a computer and use more than one application per day, dual monitors is sure to make you more productive 6 MORE Ways To Set Up Dual Monitors To Be More Productive Read More . Just think different applications on separate screens.


Respond to emails using one display while keeping your photo editing software up in the other, exactly where you left off. Perform cross-browser testing Ultimate Free Tools for Cross-Browser Testing If you have a website of your own, whether it is a large business site or a small blog, the importance of cross-browser desktop testing is the same. Read More and comparisons with Internet Explorer on one monitor and Firefox on the other to quickly spot differences. Drag and drop items like text and images from one display to your content management system on the other, reducing errors.

In a Microsoft post, John Swenson expresses his opinion on the use of dual monitors in relation to Windows 7:

Suddenly you’ll spend a lot less time flipping through open files, programs, and emails, hunting for what you want. With all of that screen real estate spread out before you, you’ll soon realize how much time you used to waste switching windows and looking for things. You’ll then ask yourself, “How did I ever get by with just one monitor?”

For Windows 10 users, you can still take advantage of the snap and quadrant features 10 Compelling Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 Windows 10 is coming on July 29. Is it worth upgrading for free? If you are looking forward to Cortana, state of the art gaming, or better support for hybrid devices - yes, definitely! And... Read More while using dual monitors. You can also use the multiple desktop feature introduced in this version of Windows to show them on two separate displays. You can see which applications you have open easily and just click to open them where you want them. Below is a good video explaining how to use these features for your dual monitor setup.

Wrong Uses for Dual Monitors

Some people disagree that the use of two monitors can increase productivity. Some might even argue that it could decrease it. Honestly, this is certainly possible, but most likely dependent on what those screens are being used for.

If you intend to use your second monitor for your favorite movie, new video game, or the latest Jason Derulo music video, then chances are your eyes will be there instead of on your work. The point of dual monitors is to, again, expand your workspace, not invite a playground that takes your mind off of your work.


What Is Your Preference?

Do you use dual monitors and cannot imagine what you would do going back to a single display? Or, are you resistant to getting that extra monitor set up 3 Easy Steps to a Dual Monitor Setup and an Extended Desktop A dual monitor setup is wonderful. But does your PC support multiple monitors? We'll show you how to use two monitors or more. Read More for some reason, and if so, why? Since there are still varying opinions on whether or not a dual monitor setup can really make you more productive, we would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credit: PrinceOfLove via

Related topics: Multiple Monitors, Multitasking, Windows 8, Workspace.

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  1. Richard Miller
    February 4, 2017 at 2:18 am

    I work in creative services and prefer 4 monitors. I keep two in portrait mode and use those the most. The other two are landscape. One for when I need that orientation or for overflow tasks. The last monitor typically has my desktop icons, palettes, and the like. I have used this setup for about 5 years and I am very happy.

  2. GB
    June 24, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    I don't like having to click twice to go from one screen's app to another. I don't think I'll ever get used to it.

  3. Anonymous
    September 18, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Well, dual-monitor setup is a blessing if used in work environment - one screen is for work tasks, other is best way to keep reference materials/outlook/spreadsheet open and not interfering with your CAD/CAM.
    Only bad thing is that my 'secondary' monitor is on the it's primary one for Windows and some floating windows from CAD opens there first time after reboot...

  4. Anonymous
    September 14, 2015 at 4:09 am

    I didn't start using a second monitor until early this year, but now I can't imagine not having it on my main desktop machine. Just for starters, I find it very useful for working with multiple documents such as balancing my finances on a spreadsheet while having a pdf of my bank statement open beside it. It's also very handy for working with topo maps and also for identifying landscape features (mountains) in photos by having the photo up on one monitor and a peak identifying webapp open in the browser on the other side.

  5. Anonymous
    September 12, 2015 at 10:19 am

    dual monitor is a productivity myth unless you are a security guard, watching multiple places. For most of the people who needs to focus one task at a time, bigger or multiple monitor just creates distraction.

    • Guy McDowell
      September 14, 2015 at 10:41 pm

      I have to disagree. Especially as a programmer. I can write the code in one screen, execute and watch the output in the other screen. Any error that happens I can keep on the screen while I go back to the code to debug it.

      For people that work with Computer Aided Drafting tools, they can be working on a wireframe of the object in one screen and see the 3D rendered product in the other simultaneously. Then they can adjust accordingly and immediately see the effect.

      • Gavin Phillips
        December 9, 2015 at 12:05 pm

        I flit between a few different configurations, and the difference comes down to the screen size for me. I can happily work on my 24", and the split screen isn't really an issue - but if I introduce my second 24" it can sometimes swing either way (but that is largely down to me!). It is incredibly useful having information relating to an article on one screen without having to alt+tab every few minutes.

    • Richard Sage
      May 5, 2018 at 4:08 am

      I disagree.
      I often have two applications side by side, but for Excel often extend the one window (so agree with the comment below about it being good to have the monitors the same size)
      I work so much slower when I have to use a laptop.
      I find it odd that employers resist - the cost is typically about 1% of annual salary for someone on the minimum wage, so even less than that for higher paid workers.
      I would be interested to see the gain - I estimate 10-20%

  6. Anonymous
    September 12, 2015 at 3:45 am

    I have used dual monitors for years and it’s such a help. About five minutes after I started using them, I wondered how I’d ever lived with only a single monitor!

    Having dual monitors cuts down on printing! For example, if I’m reviewing a journal article I need to refer to it constantly while writing my review so I used to print out the article manuscript and have it on my desk while typing my review. Now, I just have the article open on one monitor and my review on the other – no printing out required. Saves money on toner and saves trees as well!

    It’s also great for troubleshooting or if you are trying to figure out how to do something. You can have the program or problem open on one monitor and have tutorials, help screens, online support, etc. open on the other. Saves a ton of time and much less frustrating!

    I also find it helpful when I’m Skyping – I can have Skype open on one monitor and see my colleague or student while on the other monitor I can bring up the documents we’re discussing, or take notes, or go onto the Internet to look something up.

    I use a post-it note program on my desktop and I have all the post-its clustered on my secondary monitor. That way, when I bring them up, they don’t get in the way of whatever I’m working on.

    One suggestion – make sure that both monitors are the same size. Mine aren’t (long story) and it can be a bit of a pain sometimes, although it’s not a huge problem. As in, it’s not bad enough to make me go out and purchase a different monitor for my home office but it is enough of an annoyance that when I finally got a dual monitor setup at work I made sure to insist that both monitors be the same size.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 12, 2015 at 5:41 am

      What a lovely reply! Thanks for sharing :)

  7. Anonymous
    September 11, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    One of the best uses of my second monitor is during collaboration sessions.

    The Professional Video Client allows the screen shares of my team to be detached, re-sized, moved around, and magnified. Doing this, and shifting one or many shared items to the second screen, retains the valuable visual communication adds the ability to compare, contrast and focus on each team members content.

  8. Anonymous
    September 11, 2015 at 8:31 am

    I've used dual monitors for years - primarily I have my main task on the screen directly infront of me and then use the second one to either run conference calls on Skype, or have IM conversations with colleagues.

  9. Anonymous
    September 11, 2015 at 3:41 am

    I've used dual monitors at home for more than 10 years.

    The trick I use is one is rotated to "Portrait" orientation. That way things like spreadsheets are moved to the "landscape" monitor while Word documents and my browser are running on my Portrait monitor.

  10. Anonymous
    September 10, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    I am in both situations for work. At the office I have dual monitors, while when working remotely I only have the laptop screen (I use a remote desktop). Working with dual monitors is a breeze, but I'm fairly proficient with a single monitor; as, I use the keyboard, not the mouse as my primary navigation (meaning I've never accidentally closed an application).

    A huge benefit of dual screens is video tutorials. Have the tutorial on one screen, and the practice workbon the other. Easy to watch and work at the same time.

    At home the multiple monitor setup is awesome. Whether for gaming, hobby programing, or photo editing. Having the extra real estate is just so convient.

    So, yes I agree; having more than one screen, if possible, is definitely the way to go.

  11. Anonymous
    September 10, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I disagree with the generalization that the point of dual monitors is to expand your workspace. I think it depends on your context and personal needs. At work, sure, I use multiple monitors to expand my workspace, but at home I often have a video playing on my second monitor while I use the primary to do whatever I'm focused on. The video might distract me, as you've mentioned, but if I'm at home scrolling through some websites I probably don't care.