Multiple Monitor Tips?

by David Battino

Pummeled by palettes, I've been thinking of connecting the extra DVI output* on my G5 tower to a second monitor. That daydream got a boost when my terrific eye doctor raved about his multi-monitor home setup recently.


Multiple monitor photo collage by c2k2e.

So...what advice do you have for setting up and using multiple monitors? Do you like them side by side? Over/under? Same size/brand? How do you arrange programs, windows, palettes, and the Dock?


David Battino
2007-08-15 17:10:07
There's a bodacious multi-monitor setup here, though not too many details on how it's used.
2007-08-15 17:26:22
You still thinking about it!
Set up your second monitor -side by side works well for me- give it a week to get used to it and you will never go back to a single monitor set up. Even with applications that are not palette happy is great to leave your mail client open and just glance at it every now and then. Is been years since I've done any work in Peak and I don't use LIVE but in any application that has a timeline with multiple tracks the extra monitor will greatly improve your efficiency. If you have two of the same great, if not you will still find use for the extra room.

2007-08-15 17:31:37
I'm a big fan of portrait orientation instead of landscape. Two portrait displays is even better, or one-and-one. I'd guess that portrait would work very well for Firefox, Eudora, Tex-Edit, Fireworks, and Dreamweaver. Might want to keep a widescreen for the audio apps.
2007-08-15 18:05:54
i used to keep one monitor landscape and the other portrait. depending on what i was working on. i rarely do the portait thing anymore though. i barely work on anything like long spreadsheets anymore
Paul Naro
2007-08-15 18:32:23
I say go for the biggest monitor you can afford. I run a 30" on my MBP and it is awesome. That's at home. At work I have a crappy 19" LCD as a second monitor. I like the side-by-side approach. With the 30" there is no need for a portrait monitor!
2007-08-15 18:53:10
I use dual monitors as seen here:

They are idential monitors which is nice, 20" 4:3 screens (1600x1200). I think its nice to have at least the same vert. resolution. I do plan to add a 24" (1920x1200) either as a 3rd monitor on the Linux box, or as an external display on the Macbook and use synergy to use a unified keyboard/mouse.

For usage, I like to have a browser on one screen, and work on the other screen. As a Linux user, I've always made great use of virtual desktops. But with 2 monitors I hardly need to anymore, and with a 3rd I'll probably never have to which should allow me to regain my focus quicker after an interruption.

2007-08-15 21:15:09
I used to use dual monitors, they were both fairly small CRT's, and now I have a 24" iMac. Functionally I don't think there is really much difference between having two monitors and having one really big monitor. That said, why replace your decently large 20" display when you can just add to it? More screen real estate is always a wonderful thing.
Mark Bate
2007-08-15 22:05:27
I like to go with the side setup, I think it's much easier to see things if they are at one level, and there's likely to be less neck pains from left-right turns, than from up-down movements.
I use a 17" MacBook Pro, and at home have a generic brand 22" widescreen monitor, works great because the resolution is the same, however the colour profiles are very hard to match.. so what looks great on the laptop can look different on the secondary.
Although it can also be used as an advantage if you're in a design industry, to see how things look in different profiles.
At work I have a 19" 4:3 Apple monitor, which again has a different colour profile, and aspect ratio to the 16:9 of the laptop.. but again that can be advantageous for figuring out how things will look for both widescreen & 4:3 users.
It really depends what you are after, sometimes it can be good to not go with the same brand.
2007-08-15 22:12:04
I've found any old second monitor is a help. For web developing it's great for comparing browsers, leaving palettes open, etc. It's nice to be able to focus on the main screen and push secondary stuff to the second monitor, yet quickly refer to it. I like that division.
2007-08-15 23:13:10
I have two monitors, side by side - a 23 inch Apple Cinema and an inexpensive 19" model from some other mfr. I would prefer to have both the same height at least to avoid one minor problem with mousing from monitor to monitor, but it's not a major problem. For the most part, I put all the major stuff on the 23 incher, and then use the 19 incher for palletes (like in Photoshop), status windows, and other stuff that I like having available but out of the way (including the dock).
David Battino
2007-08-15 23:25:58
Thanks, everyone! Am I right that most of you keep your secondary monitors positioned statically instead of mounted on spring-loaded arms?
Saint Fnordius
2007-08-16 01:58:26
I use a setup similar to what Wolfy uses: a main 20" monitor for primary work and an old 17" monitor for palettes or chat panes. I even once worked with three monitors once, but that's overkill.

(Actually, three monitors would be wicked cool for many cockpit-style environments, but that means writing the app to exploit the three different monitors...)

2007-08-16 03:04:50
I've had an Apple 23" connected to my MBP (and before that a HiRes PB), it's great to have to monitors, but 23" is not enough. As long as I'm on a laptop (which I have to be for various reasons) I'm stuck with two monitors, but I'd love to have a 23" with a 20" on either side. It's quite a step, but I'm seriously considering going for the 30" for my next monitor.
Rob Rix
2007-08-16 06:44:07
I love multi-monitor setups in general, but with Leopard and in particular Spaces coming (if you plan to upgrade), you might want to hold out a bit to see if you need it.
2007-08-16 08:16:30
I agree with the side-by-side consensus. I set it up with the main monitor directly in front of me (so I don't have to turn my neck to look at it) and the second monitor to the right. When I work with Logic, I put the main editing window (Arrange, Mixer, or Score, depending on what mode I'm in) on the main monitor and the effects and/or secondary editing windows on the second monitor. When I'm doing other tasks, the document I'm working on is in front of me and things I'm glancing at (Mail, etc.) are on the second monitor.

I don't think it's a big deal whether or not the two monitors are the same make/size. Your brain is very good at compensating for any differences.

2007-08-16 13:25:19
I work on a 20" iMac with a 17" 4:3 moniter with the same vertical resolution an physical height.
Witch is a nice setup to work on.
A second monitor basicly frees your main monitor from clutter (panels and any other none core functionality). It also enables you put two application side by side; bbedit next to firefox for those nasty css bugs or to get those error linenumbers, fullscreen Virtual PC next to your code for crossbrowser/ platform testing)

It basicly makes you more productive... because its nice

Dennis Whiteman
2007-08-16 19:12:30
I've been using multiple monitors for nearly 15 years. Recently, I turned my Dell 24-inch display side ways so it's 1200x1920 and I love it. It sits side by side with an older Samsung 17-inch on the right and I have a 32-inch HDTV on the left which I use for previewing and coding. Recently, I added a Macbook Pro and I use Synergy to share a keyboard and mouse with my G5, which drives the three displays.
2007-08-17 06:43:24
I am a Web developer, so I am constantly showing clients and co-workers something on my screen. I use a G5 Tower with two side-by-side 19 LCD flat screens. On of them is mounted on a lazy Susan so that I can swivel the display around to show work. I find this much more comfortable than having some one looming over my shoulder.

For my work, it is essential to have identical monitors, so that color, gamma, etc., doesn't shift from one to the other.

2007-09-09 20:31:47
Dual monitors are a thing of beauty. Even if I owned an Apple 30", I'd still want dualies.
Here's my set up. Those are two Samsung SyncMaster 204B 20" LCDs (run Landscape, obviously). I'm actually trying them out in Portrait for the first time. Jury's still out, not sure if I'll keep them that way. If I do, I may investigate what it would take to add a 3rd identical monitor. I'm running them on my new Mac Pro 2.66Ghz, so I'll need to see what it takes to put another video card in to handle the 3rd screen.
Jeff Clark
2007-10-11 18:41:35
Hi all,

Am a book designer. I've used a circa-2003 G4 for a while now, with a 23-inch Cinema Display.

Have put off moving to OSX for ages now--afraid to lose even an hour of worktime making the leap, also have used Quark 4.1 for so long that I've been reluctant to give up my metabolic relationship with it: I use it like a garden tool without even looking at my hands.

But thought I'd get a MacMini, set it up, and slowly learn OSX.

But! My nice big 23-inch Cinema display isn't compatible, unless I bought that 100-dollar adaptor, and I refuse to.

So I returned MacMini and got a 2-inch iMac.

And hate the glossy monitor!

My questions are: why is my old 23-inch Cinema Display showing my designs/images so much more wonderfully.

And: can I add a second monitor to the iMac, a better monitor? or--somehow--even my old 23-inch Cinema display?



2007-12-01 03:26:55
I use 2 monitors (2 c 19" Philips with Mac G4, OSX). Really works well except for 2 big annoyances:

(1) When I try to put open Firefox windows both monitors, they often jump back to the monitor showing the first window opened.

(2) Often on the 2nd monitor, the top strip of a firefox window will disappear beyond the top edge of the screen meaning I can't move it and end up having to restart Firefox.

Any fixes welcome!



Robin Duggan
2008-02-17 09:59:15
What is the correct aspect ratio set up for creating HD content for dual (matrixed) 1366x768 monitors? The content needs to run across both monitors.
2008-07-10 12:49:46
The best place to get a Multiple Monitor Computer system is . I got the quad Array SUPER PC for less than $2900 and it has made multi-tasking a blast! Here's a video of the same model I got:
2008-07-31 12:45:59
I have to agree with jsaury, you're still thinking about it?! I recently purchased a multiple monitor day trading computer from and the quad monitor array and I can't believe how much I love working now! Ha, well not really. But the setup is killer.
David Battino
2008-07-31 13:56:02
@Jared: you're still thinking about it?! I recently purchased a multiple monitor day trading computer from —

You don't happen to work for them, do you? ;-) Thanks for all the tips. I spend most of my tech budget on audio gear, so the computer peripherals get more scrutiny.