Time Saving Tuesday

The one thing that I hate about using my desktop computer is that all of my information is typically stored on my laptop. So I end up having to crawl through the networked folders and transfer files anytime that I want to work on my desktop PC. Eventually I end up just switching back to my laptop but I quickly miss the the productivity that my 24″ LCD monitor brings to me with its whopping 1920 x 1200 resolution. :)

One day I decided to hook my laptop up to my monitor because I was just going to disable the laptop’s screen and use only the monitor. Little did I know that there was a setting in the display properties that lets you use another monitor as an extended desktop. That means I get to use my 24″ monitor in addition to my laptop’s 14.1″ screen!

 Vista Display Settings

Once you have the video cable plugged into your laptop just open up your display settings and, click on number “2,” and select “Extend the desktop onto this monitor.” That’s it. You’ll now be able to drag windows over onto the other monitor. I have illustrated above how you can adjust the positioning of the monitor relative to the laptop’s position which is useful depending on which way you want to be able to drag windows off of your laptop and onto the monitor.

You can also choose which screen will be the main one by checking the “This is my main monitor” box. Whichever is considered to be the main monitor will be the one that shows the Windows Taskbar.

There is an alternate solution available that is completely software based and uses your network in order to share monitors. The program is called MaxiVista and the newly released version is even compatible with Windows Vista (as well as 2000 and XP). Once you have the software installed you can extend your desktop on up to four displays totaling a resolution of 7,680 x 1600 pixels! Yikes!


I would be interested to see how it performs when viewing videos or other high-bandwidth activities on another monitor since it is using your network. I could see there being some lag time with the mouse movement which could quickly get annoying, but I haven’t tried it out so I’m not sure how well it works.

As you can see there are a few different alternatives available if you want to get the most desktop space possible using multiple monitors. I haven’t tried the MaxiVista software because it does cost $30 but it does appear to be an easy and cost-effective solution. Luckily I was able to hookup a monitor to my laptop without any additional costs so that proved to be the better solution for me. 

Hopefully you’ll find this as useful as I have. :D

There Are 9 Comments

  1. This topic fores me to ask this question : Is there any software/service that synchronises multiple computers? When I say synchronize I am referring to (primarily) file and folder synchronization.

  2. To synchronize files and folders SyncBackSE is probably the most extensive, but it isn’t free.

  3. I looked in to using software for external monitors to see if I could use my laptop screen as a monitor (so I could hook up a mac mini for mac testing). Apparently it can lag a bit with videos, but it should be fine for general PC usage.

  4. I have been seeing more and more about the MaxiVista software, and I am wondering if it is just a glorified remote control program, or if there is something more to it. Either way – I would think the latency would be too much to work like a realtime monitor connection.

    Steve Wiseman

  5. Steve Wiseman wrote:
    I have been seeing more and more about the MaxiVista software, and I am wondering if it is just a glorified remote control program, or if there is something more to it.

    I think that it is essentially a remote control program because it is going to be limited to your network connection, but it is unique in the fact that it lets you extend your desktop onto another monitor.

  6. If you really want to use multiple monitors, though on one computer, use UltraMon software. I’ve been using two monitors, both different sizes, for a few years and ultramon lets you set costom wallpapers for each monitor, allows the second monitor to have its own taskbar and other neat stuff.

    Also, I know that there is software out there to make two different computers display to separate monitors but behave like its one computer with dual monitors. When you move the mouse from one monitor to the other control will switch to that computer. It gets a little wonky when the network connection is bad and when one is using a lot of processing power, though.

  7. UltraMon looks pretty sweet but it doesn’t explicitly say that it supports Windows Vista. Maybe I’ll try it anyways.

  8. I have been using ultramon with vista since beta 2 with no problems works like a champ. The only thing that dosen’t work is the theme is not applied correctly to the second tool bar. Not a big deal just makes it a little hard to read.

  9. Ryan,
    Thanks very much for posting this information! You saved me a good bit of money on a 4 monitor video card! I run 2 monitors from my desktop and a 3rd monitor synced with my laptop screen. All of my work is web-based, so running two computers is quite functional.
    Thanks again!

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