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Using Dual Monitors
2005, Q3 (July 03, 2007)
by David Coverston, STC Orlando Chapter Secretary

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2005 edition of Memo to Members, the newsletter for STC Orlando, and appears here at the suggestion of Erika Coto, the Editor. See http://www.stc-orlando.org/newsletter/newsltr.asp for the current and archived issues of this newsletter.

A few months ago I began using a dual-monitor setup on my work PC. I asked for this setup because I was using FrameMaker in structured mode, and the floating palettes obscured the documents I was working on. I knew I could address this problem by using a bigger monitor and stashing all the floating windows off to one side. I tried this method using a 19 CRT monitor, but it was still a bit difficult. If you have tried both, I think you will agree that the dual monitor setup works better.

In order to use two monitors, you have to have an operating system that supports it, such as Windows 98 or later, and a video card that supports two monitors. I understand that you can install two PCI slot video cards and get the dual monitors to work, but I haven't tried it myself.

My setup is Windows 2000 with a Geforce 5200 F/X video card. With the Dell Optiplex I am using, both monitors have to be plugged into the video card with the onboard video disabled. Quite honestly, it was difficult getting it set up, but I am fortunate to have great technical support people, and they helped me get it up and running.

Right away I noticed that with the dual-monitor setup with the second monitor did not have a taskbar. I use my taskbar a lot because I usually have four or more applications running at one time and I use the taskbar to switch between running applications.

Roman Voska, aka Oscar, offers us a choice of taskbar or no taskbar on our second (or third) monitor. If you visit his web site, http://www.mediachance.com, you can download Oscar's Multi-Monitor TaskBar. Like most of the tools I have presented to you, this tool is also free. You just need to download the ~500 KB executable and run it. The software installs and starts working right away.

The web site says that the secondary monitor must be on the right, the monitors must have the same resolution, and it doesn't work with Windows 95, 98, or ME. If you are using three monitors, the primary monitor must be the one in the middle. Since none of these limitations applied to me, I set it up and was running in a couple of minutes.

This application is simple, but I love it. The applications you have running on the second monitor only show up on that monitor. I like to display Acrobat files on my second monitor and my FrameMaker files on my first monitor. The Acrobat icon displays only on the second monitor's taskbar. I like having the time show on that monitor as well.

Taskbar adds a Move to Monitor button to your applications, shown below in Figure 1. Just click the button and your application moves to the other monitor. If you have three monitors, then Taskbar adds two buttons to your application's titlebars.

The Windows Explorer with the Move to Monitor button
Figure 1. The Windows Explorer with the Move to Monitor button

The Text Clipboard Extender, shown below in Figure 2, is a secondary feature of the Taskbar.

The Extender captures and stores the last 100 text copy operations, and lets you select any of the text entries and paste them into a document. Simply click the drop-down arrow, and double-click an entry to paste it into a document.

Figure 2. The Text Clipboard Extender
Figure 2. The Text Clipboard Extender

When you right-click the Taskbar, a pop-up menu displays three choices: Properties, Shut Down Windows, and Unload Toolbar (Figure 3). Choosing Properties brings up the Properties sheet (Figure 4) where you can set your options. Choosing Un-Load Toolbar removes the Taskbar from the second monitor. You can unload it and reload it without having to restart the computer. The Shut Down Windows command did not do anything on my PC, but that is a small bug I can live with. End of article.

Figure 3. The Taskbar pop-up menu
Figure 3. The Taskbar pop-up menu

Figure 4. The Taskbar Properties sheet
Figure 4. The Taskbar Properties sheet

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