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Why Use Two Monitors On One Computer?

Saturday, April 20th, 2013 by | Filed Under: I've Always Wanted To Know...

I Always Wanted To Know:

Why do people use two monitors on one computer?


Dual monitor, where two monitors are connected to the same computer, have become increasingly popular among business and home users. With more computers coming with multiple video output ports almost anyone can enable two screens. What advantages do two monitors bring and what potential drawbacks are there?

The Benefits:

The benefits of two monitors is twice the screen space. Web browser on one screen and e-mail client on the other? Monthly budget on one screen and bank statement on the other? Video game on one screen and work on the other? The possibilities are endless. Most people who use dual monitors never want to go back to a single.

The Drawbacks:

Twice the screen requires twice the video processing power. Most modern computers can handle this task with ease when it comes to webpages, e-mails and word processing. Once you combine video games, HD video or other graphics intensive tasks you can see slowdowns because the computer has to update two monitors not one.

What Do You Need?

If you want to use two monitors the list of items you’ll need is pretty basic. Start by checking the manufacturers specifications (or look on the back of your computer) and see if you have two video outputs. You’ll then need two monitors compatible with those video out ports. A popular combination is one monitor connected via VGA or DVI cable and another monitor connected via HDMI cable.

You can configure the way the monitors display information ( split screen, duplicate, which monitor is on left/right) inside of windows display properties in control panel. You can find detailed instructions on how to do so for Windows 7/Vista by clicking here.  Windows XP instructions can be found by clicking here.


Do you have a general technology or electronics question you always wanted to know like “How does a Microwave work?” or “Why do LED’s last so long?” Write me at and your question may be answered in an upcoming “I Always Wanted To Know.” For specific computer support questions ask our writers by clicking here.

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6 Responses to “Why Use Two Monitors On One Computer?”

  1. Hedley Grenfell-Banks says:

    For me as a desktop publisher, the biggest advantage of two screens is that one can be landscape, one portrait.

  2. Denise Roche says:

    I started using two monitors when I started back to college online. It allows me to keep an e-book open and several Word documents so that I can write more efficiently. I couldn’t really get much done without the extra space. It also allows me to have one screen down low, to accommodate my bifocals, and one higher up for such things as movies or my file manager.

  3. Bill Leach says:

    Tim, I believe that some video cards only have a single connector but that connector will support 2 monitors. In fact the Del that I am using at work is one of those machines.

    Good article

  4. Mark says:

    Bill Leach is correct my HP desktop at work is that way also. You connect a special splitter to the one connector and then voila two monitors. Another option if your older system doesn’t support 2 monitors on one connector or different connectors is to put in a separate video card with two VGA ports; this is what we used to do.

    BTW, like you said, I would have a hard time doing without my 2 monitors at work. In fact when I have to travel or work from home and only have the one monitor on my work laptop that is a pain. On my home system it is not an issue as I am rarely doing 3-4 things at once there like I usually am at work.

  5. Susan says:

    I use Photoshop daily and having dual monitors really helps as I can have all my pallets on the second monitor which frees up a lot of PS real estate. I usually keep Explorer open on the second monitor so I can easily drag graphics directly into PS instead of browsing or using Bridge. I use a dual port graphics card and my motherboard has a monitor port, so the only thing keeping me from using three monitors is not enough desk space.

  6. Ron says:

    I’ve been doing it for several years now. Like Hedley, I have one portrait and one landscape. It is great! Spreadsheets are naturally landscape, while websites and Word documents are more naturally portrait.

    And now in Win 8, my second monitor is always on the good ole “traditional” desktop while my other monitor defaults to the Win8 “start screen”. (in theory, I’ve read that the Win 8 “Blue” update will unfortunately spread the “start screen” to the secondary monitors).

    Once you get used to a second screen, going back to one is a real handicap.

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