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I am wanting to get a nice, lightweight solution to having multiple monitors display different background images. I know that the existing thinking is install UltraMon or Display Fusion. I am also aware of the technique of knitting two pictures together and stretching them across both monitors. Is there anything else or are these my only options?

(There is also a similar discussion for Windows 7 here but I wanted an XP based discussion as well)

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9 Answers 9

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I realize you already know about Ultramon, but for the sake of timeliness and completeness for everyone else.

If your using a multimonitor it is worth your time and effort to install Ultramon. Not only does it provide settings for wallpapers in a multi monitor environment, it provides functionality not provided by Microsoft out of the box.

See here for extended wallpaper features introduced by Ultramon.

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As much as I really don't want to pay for software to do something this simple, this package is worth it. –  Craig Nov 30 '09 at 16:50

No, those are your two options.

Since the other question does not mention the method of knitting the two pictures together, the general idea is to resize the pictures you need to the exact resolution of your monitors and connect them side by side. If you use this as your background with Position set to "Tile", the images will fit onto each monitor.

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Try this:

  1. Go to Display Properties --> Desktop --> Customize Desktop
  2. On the Web tab, pick the New button. (Web content includes images).
  3. Go through the wizard the pops up and select the image you want.
  4. Once done, make sure your new item is checked on the Desktop Items Web tab.
  5. Hit the OK buttons to back out.

You should now see your new content on the desktop overlaying your background. You can drag this by the header bar around and resize it (or maximize). To get it back down, move your mouse to the top of the new picture and use the bar the appears like a normal title bar.

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You can alternatively download and install DisplayFusion, the free version offers plenty of customization in the multiple-monitor background area.

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I use this:

http://www.johnsadventures.com/software/backgroundswitcher/

free & works just fine for me.

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If you are familiar with basic HTML, you can create an HTML document to use as your background. A sample for dual monitors might work like this (assuming your monitors are oriented |1| |2| and are both 1280x1024, YMMV so adjust accordingly):

<html>
 <head>
  <style type="text/css">
   #left { /* this is your left image (Monitor 1)*/
    background-image: url(image1.png);
    height: 1024px;
    width: 1280px;
    margin: 0px;
    position: absolute;
    left: 0;
    top: 0;
   }
   #right { /* and this is your right (Monitor 2) */
    background-image: url(image1.png);
    height: 1024px;
    width: 1280px;
    margin: 0px;
    position: absolute;
    left: 1025px;
    top: 0;
   }
  </style>
 </head>
 <body bgcolor="#FFFFFF">
  <div id="left"></div>
  <div id="right"></div>
 </body>
</html>

I recommend putting all of these files in one folder (My Documents is a great place to keep them), so imagine My Documents\desktopHTML containing desktop.html, image1.png, image2.png.

Finally, when you have it all ready to go (check in a browser to make sure it looks right) you can right click -> properties -> background and browse to desktop.html, and it should show both.

Some notes:

  1. if you monitors are oriented so that your secondary monitor is left of your primary monitor, then set the "left" property of the image you want on the left to "-1024px;" If your height is not aligned to the top (you can see this on the "advanced tab" then adjust the height accordingly.
  2. this assumes the images are already the right size; if not, you will need to either resize them (best option) or put them in image tags (which need to have margin: 0 set); should be pretty basic stuff, though.

This solution may seem a bit more complicated than any of those apps, but here are (what I believe to be) the advantages to this method:

  1. Works across all versions of Windows from XP to 7
  2. Does not require you to download or install any 3rd party components
  3. Does not stitch your images together
  4. If this didn't make you too uncomfortable, try adding links to web pages and/or common applications to your desktop. It's easy and fun, and absolute positioning is your friend!

HTH

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I use Wallpaper Master. Multi-monitor support only available in the paid version though ($18).

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Actual Windows Manager does this (and much, much more, e.g. Start Buttons on the extended taskbar for each monitor)

enter image description here

AWM is shareware, try before you buy.

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It is actually much easier than that. right click on the desktop, choose personalize. at the bottom click desktop back ground, hold down the control key and click however many photos you want for your monitors. I have three so I click (you will see a checkbox beside them) three photos and when I click apply, one photo on each monitor.

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