Need to Use Two Displays? Here’s How to Set Up Dual Monitors (2023)

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Most computers only have one display, and this is fine for a lot of tasks. But why just settle for one screen when you can have two, three, or even four monitors at your fingertips? With multiple monitors, you can get plenty of screen real estate for web browsing, office work, gaming, and more.

Dual monitor setups are becoming increasingly popular in the modern world, and it’s easy to see why. Not only do they make life much easier, they also make you feel super-cool as you work from your cyber-Ikea battle station. Of course, though, it’s totally about productivity.



So, let's take a look at how you can set up dual monitors for yourself.

Common Questions About Dual Screen Monitor Setups

It’s important to answer some questions about dual monitor setups before we dive into the juicy stuff of how to setup dual monitors.

Which Monitors Should You Choose?

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Choosing the right monitors for your dual monitor setup may seem simple at first glance. As long as it has the right input type, any monitor should be able to connect up to your computer. A few considerations need to be made to build the very best dual monitor setup, though.

  • Size: The size of your monitors is very important. Most people aim to keep their monitors the same size, though you could also have a small monitor for background tasks.
  • Aspect Ratio: Most monitors have a 16:9 aspect ratio, but other types, like ultrawide monitors, give you more options when you are optimizing your battle station.
  • Resolution: It's commonplace to have monitors of different resolutions, but this isn't usually a good idea. For example, a 1080p screen next to a 4K one can end up looking very low-resolution, even if it looks great alone. You might also run into placement issues, where your mouse jumps from the top of one monitor to the center of the other when you move across desktops.
  • Color: Most monitors will have different color profiles that make them look distinct side by side. This difference is most noticeable between old and new monitors and is worth considering if you care about the colors on your screen.
  • Input Types: HDMI, DisplayPort, USB Type-C, and a host of other display input connectors can be found on monitors. Adaptors help to connect monitors to devices with different outputs.
  • Panel/Backlight Types: IPS, VA, and TN panel types are common on modern monitors, alongside QLED, OLED, and LED backlights. What are the differences between monitor backlights? It's worth reading up before you choose a new screen for your dual monitor setup.

While it is worth keeping all of this in mind, you can still be creative to make the best dual monitor setup for you. Having two monitors of the same brand and model can look really nice. Likewise, though, you can get a little funky with it, and this is what we have done with the two-monitor setup we’ll be putting together later in the article.

How to Mount a Two-Monitor Setup

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Most monitors come with their own stands. And while they're perfectly functional, they often lack the flexibility and wow factor that comes with a monitor arm or wall mount. Although it isn't essential, a monitor arm can help improve your posture. But buying a monitor arm isn't also a simple affair, so you should learn everything you need to know about buying a monitor arm before getting one.

You can find an affordable monitor and television mounting hardware across the web. It’s important to make sure that you choose a mount that has the right type of mounting bracket, along with a monitor that has space for it. The most common type of monitor mount is a VESA mount, though it can still be worth checking our quick guide to VESA mounting standards, as it has a few variations.

Is My Device Compatible With Dual Screens?

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Not every device on the market is compatible with dual screens, whether it’s because they lack the ability or the ports to do so. Obviously, you wouldn’t get very far with your two-monitor setup if your device can’t support them, so you need to figure this out before you get started.

  • Desktop PCs: Both macOS and Windows are compatible with dual screens in their software. Alongside this, you also need a dedicated graphics card or monitors that can work with inputs like USB.
  • Laptops: Creating a dual monitor setup with a laptop is common, and you usually just need to plug an external monitor via HDMI or USB-C. However, attaching two or more external monitors to a laptop might be a bit more complicated.
  • Smartphones & Tablets: Both Android and iOS devices can run with additional monitors attached to them. You are likely to need an adaptor to achieve this with cables, but you can also cast your display wirelessly with devices like this.

How to Setup Dual Monitors

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Now we’re onto the good stuff. Setting up dual monitors is a relatively easy process. It’s worth getting all of your cables handy before you get started, and you can adjust this guide to make sure that it works best for your setup.

1. Setting Up Dual Monitor Positioning

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The first stage in this process is to get your monitors set up on your desk. You have to use your imagination a little, working to ensure that your cables will be able to reach the right locations. As you can see from the photo above, we have a regular 16:9 monitor paired with a 21:9 ultrawide.

2. Plugging in Your Monitors

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Once in place, you can feed your power cables to your monitors and plug them in. This can be followed by the display cables you are using, with special care being taken to ensure that you plug them in correctly and in the right locations. This can be done with your machine turned on and signed in.

3. How to Setup Dual Monitors on Windows 10 and 11

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Learning how to setup dual monitors in Windows 10 & 11 is easy. Both operating systems offer the same settings, but you may see a layout different to the screenshots if you are using Windows 11. With your monitors plugged in, you can right-click on the Desktop, followed by left-clicking on Display Settings.

This will give you access to a window with controls for your monitors. You should see a Multiple displays area, with options that will enable you to control your monitors. We have broken down some of these settings below to get you started.

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  • Identify Monitors: This posts a 1 and a 2 on your screens, showing you which is which in the computer’s mind.
  • Multiple Displays: This option allows you to show the same thing on both screens, extend your displays and make them act as one, or only display content on one of your displays.
  • Positioning: The box at the top of the window you’re looking at allows you to change the position of your screens so that the mouse can move between them. We have laid ours out to match the position of our displays, with the left monitor sitting slightly lower than the right. This setting is changed by simply dragging the boxes into the desired positions.
  • Primary Monitor: Setting a monitor as the primary monitor will mean that it is the default that applications will open on. Alongside this, it will also be home to your clock and other taskbar tray icons.
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Alongside these dual monitor-specific options, you will also have access to your regular monitor settings. This means that monitors can be set to have different resolutions and refresh rates while also giving you the chance to choose how text scales.

Setting Up Dual Monitors With Third-Party Software

Dual monitors can also be set up using third-party software. The most common examples of this are software options that come from graphics card companies, like Nvidia’s Control Panel. You can use programs like these to achieve similar results, though they also often give you additional settings that can be useful in fringe situations.

Setting Up Dual Monitors With macOS, Android, and iOS (and Other Operating Systems).

Android, iOS, macOS, and Linux are just a few examples of other operating systems that can also support dual monitor setups. The settings available in each operating system are very similar to Windows, though you may need to take additional steps in some cases. With a MacBook Pro dual monitor setup, for example, you may struggle to keep the Mac Dock on your main monitor. Thankfully, there are loads of guides around the web to help with issues like this.

You can even setup dual 4K monitors on your Raspberry Pi 4/400, a tiny device that is perfect for light office use.

Using a Dual Monitor Setup

Two monitors are always better than one. Not only do you get more space for work and play, but you also get to feel like you’re using a system from the future. Cool as it may sound, there are genuine benefits to using dual monitors, and this is something that more and more people can fit into their computer budget as time goes on. You just need to learn how to setup dual monitors for yourself to get started.


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