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My desktop computer has three displays, and I usually use all of them at once - but not always. In order to save electricity, I would like a way for monitors to automatically go to sleep when not in use. Windows can put all of the screens to sleep after a period of inactivity, but I'm unaware of any way to put just some screens to sleep after a period of inactivity on that monitor.

How I envision this working is that the computer would detect mouse/keyboard movement focused on a particular monitor, and after a period of time, would turn off that monitor if there were no activity.

Is there any way to configure this from within the OS? Alternatively, is there any third-party software that can do this, or even some way to just tell one monitor to turn off, without turning them all off? Another question references a Win32 API to disable monitors, but it seems to work on all of them at once.

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Mouse movement, maybe, but are keyboard events treated as per monitor only, even if only an app on one of them is focused and being used? If it's a global thing and there's no way to isolate the events per monitor, this might not be possible (except maybe for the mouse). – Karan Oct 29 '12 at 18:48
@Karan good point. Using the relative position of the mouse it might be possible at least. If there's some API to put a monitor to sleep then it might be possible to code a system for it. – nhinkle Oct 29 '12 at 18:59

**Native OS functionality (I'm not familiar with 3rd party apps of this kind)

I suggest using the built-in win + P method to change the display type. Changing it to PC screen only will allow 2 of your 3 monitors to sleep.

Note: This will only allow you to switch from 3-monitors to one - but this is as close as it gets natively to the functionality you're talking about.

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Win+P, and not sure how this would help solve the problem? – Karan Oct 29 '12 at 18:44
This disables the monitors, yes, but it completely changes the desktop configuration - windows get moved around and such. I want everything to stay where it is, just for the monitor not being used to turn off without altering the desktop configuration. – nhinkle Oct 29 '12 at 18:57
@nhinkle, That would be a challenge - and would lead to "lost" windows. What happens when you open an application that by default opens on the far right monitor (but that monitor is currently asleep)? You would either have to turn the monitor back on manually, or use context menus/shortcut keys to retrieve the application. Unless you're asking for software that will detect if an application is open on a sleeping monitor as well. I don't think this functionality exists... – James Hill Oct 29 '12 at 18:59
@JamesHill basically, I want it to say "if mouse doesn't go in this area, turn off this monitor". If that's possible, it should also be possible to say, "if the mouse goes back in that area, wake it up again." – nhinkle Oct 29 '12 at 19:00
@nhinkle, we'll see what the community comes up with, but I disagree with your logic. How would the software know when a monitor needs to be turned back on if the mouse can't enter the screen (because it's off)? How the the software distinguish between your desire to pull up the charms bar and your desire to turn on another monitor? I don't think what you're asking for is possible. – James Hill Oct 29 '12 at 19:03

Not sure if there is anything built in to Windows 8 to handle this, but I know that UltraMon will do what you want.

From here: With Ultramon the solution is simple, you can rightclick on the Ultramon icon in your taskbar to see a predefined list of actions. One of those actions is "Disable Secondary". You can either just select it from there or map a key combo to it (which is what I did) and now you have the ability to just turn off your secondary monitor with a click, or combo key press. This effectively allows you to switch from dual display mode to single and back again immediately. My second monitor just blacks out into power saving mode when I use my key combo and restores when I activate dual display with the same key combo when I am ready to use it again.

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Hi, I'm interested in this too. Can you elaborate on which UltraMon option is to be selected to achieve this? – Karan Oct 29 '12 at 18:45
@Karan edited it in for you – corwin01 Oct 29 '12 at 18:50
Thanks, but that's not quite the same as it being automatically activated on per monitor inactivity. – Karan Oct 29 '12 at 18:52
Yea, I found the other page and jumped the gun. It does sound easier than the Win + P, but still. Honestly reaching over and physically turning the power off would probably be faster =) – corwin01 Oct 29 '12 at 18:58
I'd prefer for it to be automatic, and don't want to disable the monitors, just turn them off without altering the configuration. – nhinkle Oct 29 '12 at 18:58

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