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Extend your desktop

If you have a laptop, you may have noticed the VGA output. You may even have used it to plug in a projector, but did you know you can plug in a second screen and extend your desktop?

wallpaper

What does this mean, well in essence it allows you to work across two desktop, effectively doubling your work space area.

Why have a dual desktop

Other than the “geek factor”, having a dual desktop allows you to have full windows open side by side.

Imagine you are working on a word document where you want to copy text from one document into a second document. A dual desktop allows you to have both documents open side by side and then you can simply highlight the text you wish to copy in document 1 and drag it across to document 2.

dual screen word

As a webpage developer, dual screens make life much easier as it enables you to have one screen display your work as it appears in your browser and the other screen can be used to display your html editor. Then it is simply a case of save and refresh to see the changes.

webpage development

Of course you can also use your second screen to watch a movie while browsing the net or simply use one screen to display open windows of applications like chat and email clients while you work.

Setting up a dual desktop (Windows 7)

Naturally the first thing you will need is a spare monitor.

Turn off your laptop and connect the VGA cord from the screen to your laptop’s VGA output.

vga

Now turn on the laptop. Windows 7 should detect the second monitor and clone laptop picture onto the second monitor.

While a cloned desktop is great for a project, we need to adjust the settings so that your desktop is extended across both monitors.

Windows seven makes this a simple task.

Right click on your desktop to open the menu and select “Screen resolution”

desktop right-click

The following window should open:

display-appearance

Use the drop down menu next to “Multiple displays” and select “Extend these displays”.

multiple displays

Now select the recommended “Resolution” for each screen.

screen resolution

You can select the second monitor by clicking on the icon labelled 2.

select monitor

And now you should be set.

Third party applications

While Windows 7 handles the basic setup of a dual desktop well, additional features are lacking like the ability to display different wallpapers on each monitor or having separate taskbars on each screen. Fortunately applications like display fusion exist which will make these sorts of functions available to you.

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