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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 120: Optimize Your Dual Monitors

Level Advanced

Platform Windows

Cost Free

Studies show that the extra screen real estate afforded by multiple monitors can increase computer users’ productivity.1 If you’ve added another monitor to your computer setup, you’ve got double the screen real estate to get things done — but are you putting all that space to good use? Whether you want to stretch your desktop wallpaper or taskbar across two screens or perfectly snap all your windows into place every time, a few utilities are available that can help you make the most of every last pixel of your dual monitors. Read on to take a look.

The Basics

If you haven’t taken the plunge into doubling up on monitors and your computer doesn’t currently support two video outputs, you have a few options. You can install a second video card inside your computer or replace your current video card with one that supports two monitors. Alternatively (and most easily), you can just plug an external display into your laptop and use your laptop’s flip-up screen as your second monitor.

When you have your dual screens hooked up, go to your system’s display settings to configure their arrangement. (Right-click your desktop and select Screen resolution.) One of the screens will be your primary monitor (numbered 1) and the other will be the secondary (numbered 2). Click the Identify button to throw numbers up on each screen, letting you know which is which. If one of your monitors is smaller than the other, drag ...

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