How to Setup Dual Monitors and Why You Should Do It

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There are times where a single computer monitor just isn’t enough of a digital workspace. Sometimes you might want more room while playing video games or perhaps you’re editing videos and you’d like additional space to include editing features and the display screen. Whatever the reasoning, you’ll find a second or even third monitor can improve your productivity. Of course, when you use a desktop computer setup you will by default have a single monitor. To take advantage of a second monitor, you need to know how to setup dual monitors. This works for both Windows and Mac computer systems, so no matter what kind of equipment you currently have, you shouldn’t have any trouble setting up the second monitor.

What Are Dual Monitors?

What Are Dual Monitors

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 Before you learn how to setup dual monitors, you need to know what dual monitors are. As the name suggests, there is a second monitor. However, the monitors do not compete with each other. Depending on the program you’re using, the second monitor just expands your display space. For example, if you have a single 17-inch computer screen and bring in a second 17-inch computer screen, it will double your work space to 34 inches. For some programs, you can adjust the display. Once the computer has identified the second monitor, you’ll often be granted additional display features. For a program such as Adobe Photoshop, you can adjust the editing window and move tool controls to the secondary window. The beauty of the dual monitors and knowing how to setup dual monitors is you can make it your own. This way, the configuration you have will not always be the same as the next person.

Why Do You Need Dual Monitors?

Why Do You Need Dual Monitors

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When it comes to how to setup dual monitors and whether you need them, the fact of the matter is not everyone will need this information or the setup. If you use your computer for checking emails or watching movies, you don’t need a second monitor. However, if you’re a day trader and need different monitors on different stocks (and even different stock exchanges) you’ll need more display space than what a single computer monitor can give you. With the help of a second monitor it becomes easier to see everything you need to in real time, without moving different monitors about.

Using dual monitors is a personal preference. You may decide you need a second monitor while others may not need the second monitor at all. This is up to you. But at least once you know how to setup dual monitors you’ll always have the option of bringing in a second screen when one is needed.

Can You Explain How to Setup Dual Monitors?

When looking at how to setup dual monitors there are differences between a Windows and Mac computer. The connection process is more or less the same, although instructing the computer itself will vary slightly. Due to this, follow the instructions specific for the computer system you run. Additionally, the configuration process may vary slightly depending on the version of operating system you have (such as an older version of Windows or, in a year, an updated one). The Mac OS updates remain consistent, so you shouldn’t have much in the way of alterations with them, so stick with these instructions on how to setup dual monitors and you should be fine.

How to Setup Dual Monitors on a Windows Computer

When starting, you’ll need to determine the video port you’re connecting the second computer screen to. Depending on the computer you have you’ll need at least a VGA or DVI monitor port on the back. You probably have an HDMI or DisplayPort connection on your computer. It doesn’t matter which port you choose. HDMI might be the easiest and cables are readily available at your local electronics store (you can also find the cables at Walmart, Target, or any other large grocery store).

With the correct cable in hand, connect your second monitor to a power outlet, then plug the video cable for the second monitor into the port on your computer.

You now need to tell your Windows computer about the second monitor. If you restart Windows, it may automatically stretch out and display the operating system on both screens. If this does not happen (or if the monitors are not displaying information properly), right-click somewhere on the desktop. If you’re running Windows 7 or 8 choose “Screen Resolution.” If you’re running Windows 10 choose “Display Settings.”

This brings up a new dialog box. Click on the “Multiple Displays” pull-down menu and choose how you want the monitors to work together. If you choose “Extend These Displays” it will look at the two monitors as one continuous monitor.


You can now select the “Display” option and you’ll have a new series of commands come up. Here you can tell the computer how to control each. Click on either displayed screen (listed as “1” and “2”). Now choose the scale, resolution, orientation, and night light features. Sometimes you might want a monitor to be in portrait mode (where you turn the monitor on its side). This is helpful if you’re running stock exchange information, although you can use this feature for anything.

Once you’ve finished editing the display, save your changes and exit out of the screen. You can always return to the menu and adjust the displays further. You’re also able to add a third monitor. Again, it’s all about making the display setup your own.

How to Setup Dual Monitors On a Mac Computer

Connecting a second monitor to your Mac computer is trickier, only because you rarely have the same connection ports as a Windows computer. The easiest method for connecting a second screen to your Mac computer is to just purchase a television and connect it to the Mac. This way you can use the HDMI connection ports. However, if you decide to purchase a computer monitor instead (which is usually cheaper, unless you buy a Mac monitor, in which case you’ll likely save money just buying the TV) you’ll need to determine what cable you need.

Your Mac likely no longer has a VGA connection port on it. VGA connections are made up of three rows of pin connectors with two screws, one on each side of the connector, to secure it in place. You might have a DVI, and then instead of circle pin connectors it will have a series of square connectors. If this is the connection you want to use between your Mac and the second monitor, you’ll likely need an adapter to run between the two. DVIs are broken down into several connection methods (such as dual link, single link, DVI-A, DVI-I Single Link, etc.). It’s easier to use the Thunderbolt connection (which is a rectangular hook-up with slight curves on the bottom and is about the size of a USB connection) or HDMI.

Once you’ve decided on the cable connection you’ll use (and have picked up the adapter, if you’re trying to use a VGA or DVI connector), connect the second computer to your Mac.


With the second monitor connected and turned on choose “System Preferences” on your Mac computer. You can choose it from the dock (it’s the gear icon) or just type “System Preferences” into the search bar in the upper-right corner of your MacOS screen.

Select “Displays,” then select “Arrangement.” If you want the second monitor to show exactly the same information as the first monitor (which is helpful if you’re hooking up a projector) choose “Mirror Displays.” If not, then drag the illustrated display in the middle of the screen to configure it how you’d like. You will select the dominant screen by dragging the displayed white bar onto the screen in the menu.

If you are connecting a second monitor to a MacBook notebook and want to close the laptop (so you don’t have a second screen taking up space), you can connect the screen to the computer and then turn on a Bluetooth keyboard. Once the keyboard is detected by the computer, close the laptop screen. The connected monitor will flash momentarily and then say “On.” Once this happens you will use the closed laptop as a desktop computer using the turned-on monitor.


When working with computers there will always be professions that require a second monitor. The second screen just makes work easier and boosts productivity. In other times, certain video games may be easier if you have a second screen. Whatever the reasoning, if you’ve ever wanted to add a second monitor to your setup it is possible, regardless of whether you have a Windows or a Mac computer. By knowing how to setup dual monitors you’ll be able to add another screen whenever you want. So even if you have no need for a second monitor now, should you need it in the future you’ll have the knowledge to bring in the second screen, connect it, and configure it on your computer system.




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