Using Windows 2000's Multiple Monitor Functionality

Windows 2000 (Win2K) has a cool new feature that lets you attach multiple monitors to one Win2K system. The idea is to give you more desktop space than you get with just one monitor. Stretching the desktop to multiple displays can make you more productive, although some people might want to add additional monitors just to impress coworkers. In this week’s column, I'll describe how to install additional monitors and discuss some of the advantages and the limitations of multiple-monitor functionality.

You can install up to 10 individual monitors in Win2K, and it's easier than you might think. Adding additional monitors has several advantages. You can stretch your desktop to hold many more programs than you typically could. If, for example, you're working on a large Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and you want to see as many cells in one Window as possible, you can expand your window across a few monitors and see more cells without scrolling. How about opening a PowerPoint presentation with several pages and dragging them across several monitors? That could be pretty handy.

You can use a Web development tool on one monitor while running your favorite Web browser on another monitor so you can see the effects of your code. System administrators and Help desk personnel can use this feature to monitor several network servers simultaneously. As you can see, this new functionality has many advantages.

Installing Additional Monitors
To install an additional monitor, turn off your computer, install the video adapter, plug the monitor into the adapter, and turn your computer on. Win2K will detect the new adapter and automatically install the appropriate drivers.

Once the OS has installed the drivers, right-click anywhere on your desktop and select Properties (or go to Control Panel, Display). Click the monitor icon for the additional monitor on the Settings tab. If you want to drag items across your monitor onto additional monitors, check the "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor" box and click OK. You have the choice of moving an item from one monitor to another or resizing a window so it stretches on to more than one monitor. What if you want to change the screen resolution of a display, say from 640 x 480 to 800 x 600? Simply click on the monitor you want to adjust on the Settings tab. In the Screen area, drag the slider to the desired setting and click OK.

Let’s say you want to view the same desktop on two monitors. Go to the Settings tab, click the primary monitor, then click the secondary monitor. Check the "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor" box. You should get the same view on both the monitors.

The Primary Display
When working with additional monitors, you should keep a couple of things in mind. You always have one monitor that acts as your primary display. When you start your computer, the logon box will display on your primary display, and most applications will use the primary display when they start up. If you want to take advantage of additional monitors, simply drag items to additional monitors. To designate a monitor as a Primary monitor, select the monitor on the Settings tab and check the "Use this device as the primary monitor" box.

As I mentioned earlier, you can set a different screen resolution for each monitor. However, depending on your monitor and video adapter, you might not be able to change the resolution on some displays. Another limitation is that you must use a Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) or Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) video adapter to take advantage of multiple monitors, so you might not be able to take advantage of multiple-monitor functionality on older systems.

Give this new feature a try. I am sure you'll find many more advantages of multiple monitor functionality in Win2K.

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