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Multi-monitors. What do you do with them?


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Hiya.

I recently bought an HD widescreen monitor. My old monitor is flatscreen, small footprint, actually longer (taller) than this new one, and is still perfectly good. I've noticed much stuff about people using more than one monitor, but nothing about what they actually use the extras for.

This is a request for you to tell me how and why you use more than one monitor.

I mostly work serially; one job at a time. I began with this lot when only MSDOS and DRDOS were available, and multitasking was not an option. Maybe I'm just being habitual. The only time I ever have two things going on at the same time is when I'm writing (Main), and doing a disk defrag or virus scan in the background.

Even when multitasking finally appeared, the CPU and memory were so rubbish that multitasking slowed everything down as to make it unworkable, and so I have avoided it. Habitual.

So, what do you use your extra monitor for? Input appreciated - I may learn a whole new use/practice.

Many thanks, Peewee.

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It's nice to have two monitors for coding, one for editing the code and the other as a preview pane to see how things will look as you progress. Of course, if your code is split between two or more files then both could be used for editing code. Instant messengers often take up much more space than they should (for advertisements, et cetera) so it's often easier to carry on conversations when you have dedicated space for the messenger window in addition to whatever else you're working on.

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I mostly work serially; one job at a time.

That's why multiple monitors is useless for you. Most people always have a few apps open at once. Like a browser (I never close it basically), a mp3 player app of some kind (WMP), pretty often either a mail client (outlook, especially at work) or pdf app (acrobat), something downloading in the background, an instant messenger and so on.

Many apps these days work very well with multiple monitor setups, like Visual Studio 2010, Altium Designer and many others. And even when you're using an app on just one monitor, it can be extremely helpful having something else opened on the other e.g. you're working in Photoshop on one monitor, and on the other you have some notes from your client (acrobat or outlook opened) -- it beats having to walk a half mile to collect slices of dead trees at a networked printer. Or Visual Studio on one, then SQL Server Profiler tracing on the other. Or some sort of HTML/CSS editor on one screen and a browser on the other for some. So many options and uses! Most CAD/graphic design/programming workflows work great with such setups.

But even without multiple monitors, I can't even imagine working with just one app open at one. I typically have a dozen apps running at once or so.

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Multi task to the extreme at least at work. Normally have at least three computers doing something, which equates to 5 monitors.

Ont machine runs multiple VM's for various testing and I can have a different VM on each monitor. Other machine with two monitors usually has something up for reference on the second monitor while I work on something in the first, easier than switching between applications (especially when you have 6 to 8 open at a time. The poor machine with a single monitor is usually some specialized project I'm working on and doesn't normally need two monitors for that work.

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Even at home I have two monitors attached to my desktop - one 21" monitor is in portrait mode (very tall, not very wide in this format) and running Outlook (very useful to have a tall monitor for email with the reading pane at the bottom); one 30" monitor is in landscape mode where most of my other work is done. Email is critical to my day-to-day, and as such it occupies one monitor entirely.

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Multi task to the extreme at least at work. Normally have at least three computers doing something, which equates to 5 monitors.

This is it exactly. I work with 4 computers which equates to 5 physical screens. 1 Notebook and its screen. 3 on my workstation. And one monitor is set up to 2 PCs, one of which has its own desktop and two VM Consoles running, so it seems even more!

For my workstation, the screens are usually Email - Browser - an IDE. It is almost required for me to have one screen with a browser, which is immensely helpful if you do any web development too.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Often I have a schematic on one screen and circuit board (or code, if I'm working with a microcontroller) on another.

Or, when doing programming, an editor/terminal on one and a bunch of PDFs/documentations/papers on another.

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Me again. Meant to ask, forgot, is VM = Virtual Machine? Does that mean you are running programs like Sandboxie on other monitors, as virtual machines dedicated to that monitor? I can see how that would be useful.

I was recently grabbing some screenshots and editing them. I then had to re-edit several of them. Trying to remember what was in the original and needed changing was impossible, and the flipping back and forth was a pain. What I did was manually split the screen in two, using the central on/off button as the centre guide, and used the right window to display the JPG that needed editing, and the left window to make the changes. It made life really so much faster and easier. I could not have done this with the previous monitor.

Similarly, since I got this wide monitor, I have often split the screen with two instances of Explorer, and it does make manipulating files a lot easier. Can such file copying and moving be done between monitors?

A side issue, but to me just as interesting. Earlier I said that I split the screen in two for editing of JPGs, with the right screen showing the original - only for consultation, and the left where the editing actually takes place. Is this the same for you? Do you work handed?

Again, many thanks for your contributions, Peewee.

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When I used to use one monitor, I would make use of my available screen space like you, splitting up the screen. As far as VMs go, it ends up being the same as just using programs. On the PC I have the vSphere client on, it is a wide screen so I have enough space to run both consoles, but if I didn't have a widescreen monitor, it would be a real pain.

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Yes, VM = Virtual machine. I usually have at least 2 running at a time depending upon what I am doing that day and I flip back and forth between them and my host OS as I work to do different thing. It can be a real pain when I am away from my office with only my laptop and a single screen having to swap between applications/VMs especially when you are used to being able to just look at the other screen to find or do what you want.

As far as copying things around moving between monitors it is just like having one huge monitor, for the most part anything can be move from one monitor to the other. I have run across a couple of applications that do not like being on a secondary screen or all of their pop out windows show up on the primary screen instead of the screen the main application is on.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Again, still reading. Thanks for all your replies. My widescreen monitor opened up many possibilities, and that and your mostly positive replies mean I'm definitely going to connect up the old monitor as 2, and see what else I can do. Cheers. And a Happy New Year.

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At home I have two widescreens. Use them for my photography work, one for editing, other for browsing via Bridge. If I am not doing that then I am using one for Web and one for Email, or one for Web, One for Music...and so on!

At my other work I have 3 monitors, IT Technician, so I use left for Remote Desktop, Middle for Web, general work, and right one for Email...(mainly - on a day to day basis). Sometimes I use 2 for Remote and one for Web...and so on!

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