These days it’s almost impossible to be productive on a single monitor. With multiple tabs, windows, and applications all running at once, you’ll want the most screen real estate possible, which is where using multiple monitors comes into play.
To start using multiple monitors on your Windows 10 machine, you’ll need to start by verifying that you actually have the hardware capable of supporting it. Every monitor you add to the equation effectively doubles the amount of graphical output your PC needs to handle, so we recommend using a rig that has an independent graphics card or at the very least a native chip that can power two or more 1920 x 1080 displays at once.
In that same vein, you’ll also need to be sure you actually have the ports available to handle multiple monitor inputs. On a graphics card you’ll have a minimum of two HDMI ports, and more beefy cards will usually have the option to add up to six independent displays through a mix of HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI outputs, depending on the model. Standard workstations with native chips may only have one or two outputs at max, usually in the form of an HDMI/VGA combo.
Detect Multiple Monitors in Windows 10
Once you have all the displays you want to use hooked up to the back of your computer, it’s time to get Windows to see them all. No modern monitors will need any sort of drivers installed, and your Windows 10 machine will automatically recognize them from the moment they’re plugged in. (This goes double for any monitors connected through VGA).
To manage your monitors, start by right-clicking on your Desktop and then selecting “Display Settings” from the menu show below.
This will open the following window where you can see the monitors that are currently connected to your PC. In my case I have one 21:9 ultrawide monitor, as well as one 4K monitor hooked up to the same workstation, which is why the orientation of those two squares looks the way it does.
To get your monitors set up in multiple monitor mode, start by clicking the “Detect” button highlighted above to guarantee that Windows sees all the monitors you want to use. Windows will automatically assign numbers to your enabled monitors which you can use to identify which are the main monitors and which are the supplementary displays.
Manage Multiple Monitors in Windows 10
Next, you can choose how you want your monitors to behave. The first option is to “Extend these displays,” which can be enabled by selecting the option from the menu below.
This is the most common implementation of multiple monitor setups, as it allows you to take any windows you aren’t currently focused on and drag them to the other monitor for safe keeping or something that you can just glance at quickly without much effort.
Another way to manage multiple displays is to “Duplicate these displays.”
This is much less common but can still be useful if you’re trying to display a presentation on your laptop and an external display simultaneously. Finally, while most general users will want to keep this setting as a default, sometimes people who are using their multiple-monitor setup for programming or streaming might want to put their second or third monitor in portrait mode in order to get a more vertical layout for their information.
To do this, click on the menu labeled “Orientation,” and then on the monitor you want to be displayed vertically, choose “Portrait.”
Having multiple monitors can be very helpful if you know how to configure them correctly, reducing screen clutter and increasing productivity across the board.