I use two monitors when I write. I have done this for over four years. I bought a new monitor about a year ago. It’s bigger and HD. I love using two monitors. Here’s why:
With dual monitors, you can have your current work open in front of you and have an array of other programs open on the second monitor. No more switching back and forth. I simply look to the right to see my second or third program window.
Because you can extend the desktop, when you slide your mouse to the second monitor, as soon as it leaves your main monitor, it shows up in the second. I often copy text from monitor two and paste in monitor one (my main monitor).
Actually, I’d love to have three monitors. For now, space and finances require that I remain at two.
Normally, for writing I keep Word open in my main and Chrome is takes up half of the display on monitor 2. The other half of 2 is usually either OneNote 2010 or Priority Matrix (an awesome tool for projects and for laying out a book outline or novel plotting).
If I’m doing a non-fiction post or article, it’s usually dependant on Scripture references. So Word is open in monitor 1 and my Logos Bible program is fully open on monitor 2. Since monitor 2 display is 26 inches and monitor one is 19, I’m able to see the multiple segments of my Logos program in monitor 2. I often set the view to 115%. That really works out great for close study, especially of footnotes or cross-references.
For Writers Especially
For writers who work on non-fiction, monitor 2 can be your research display. Monitor 1 can by your main word processor.Or monitor 2 can have your outline open (assuming you use one). If I had a third monitor I’d have my Cloud Player and Calendar open on it, both of which I always have open in back on monitor 1.
For writers who are working on fiction, monitor 2 can keep track of characters or timeline. Whatever software you use to plot or keep track of characters or images can be open on monitor 2 while you keep your manuscript open on #1.
Two monitors work especially great with floating windows (which many programs make use of). You can simply float out a window and drag it into either monitor. Of course, all of this works best if you have Windows 7 or better. But it will work with XP as well.
When you purchase your second monitor, make sure that the monitor can be turned vertically as well as horizontally if you use lists. Long lists or excel sheets look great on a second or third monitor when turned vertically.
Today dual or even triple monitors are not out of reach for the pocket-book either. Some really nice, large format monitors can be purchased for below $200. So sell an article or two and do yourself a great favor.
When you buy your second monitor, make sure that you purchase an adaptor that will allow you to plug into your VGA plug on the back of your computer and give you a splitter into either 2 or 3 monitors. For 2 monitors, you don’t need any special software. I’m not sure once you get above 2 monitors. I hope to find out though.
If you’re not using two monitors yet, please do yourself a favor and make it a priority. Develop a motto. Sell your typewriter (no, on second thought . . . don’t do that yet). Whatever it takes, even making your own favorite coffee beverage instead of going to Starbucks. And save for that second monitor. You’ll be glad you did.
QUESTION: Anyone using three? If two, what’s your array look like?
[photo by me]