Windows XP Multiple Monitor Settings

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A guide to setting up and managing multiple monitors in Microsoft XP.

Note: This article assumes that you have successfully installed any graphics cards and monitors you intend to use in your multi monitor environment.

Accessing the correct menus

The quickest and easiest way to access the settings required is to simply right click on a blank area of your standard desktop screen.

On the resulting menu which pops up select the last option called 'Properties' which then brings up a window called 'Display Properties' full of options.

Select the last tab option from the top of this new window labelled 'Settings', you should see a panel similar to the following image:

Windows XP Display Settings

Note: Depending on your specific graphics card arrangement you may have more or less screens numbered on your settings panel.

This window allows you to arrange the order of your monitors, set screen resolutions and decide which will be your main display screen.

Extending your desktop

By default, the screen identified as number 1 is highlighted and is set as your 'main monitor', if you have another monitor installed you can select it to change settings associated with it.

To extend your desktop onto a second (or third / fourth) screen simply click on the box next to the 'Extend the desktop onto this monitor' setting.

The second monitor should now display your standard desktop wallpaper and moving your mouse 'off' the edge of your main monitor will see it instantly appear on the second screen. You have now successfully extended your desktop onto another monitor.

Arranging your monitors

Often when you install an extra monitor they will physically be arranged in a certain way, perhaps 3 monitors in a row, or 1 monitor on a shelf / stand above a primary monitor.

You can match the physical layout in the Display Settings screen easily by simply dragging the monitor icons around to suit your setup.

Doing this has the advantage of ensuring that when you move your mouse off the left of your main screen, the mouse actually moves to the left most monitor.

Setting screen resolutions

Screen resolutions determine the amount of pixels which make up your viewing area on any given monitor.

Resolutions which are able to be applied depend on the ability of the graphics card and the supported modes on your monitor.

To change screen resolutions simply click on the required monitor in the Display Settings window and adjust the resolution slider up or down.

When working with multiple monitors of the same size (i.e. 3 x 19" screens) we strongly recommend giving them all the same screen resolution as this makes working with applications that span multiple screens far more efficient.