I cleared off some space on my desk and plugged in a second monitor a couple days ago. The problem is that I haven't used it at all yet. What do people normally use multiple monitors for?
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Doing IT work hasn't been the same since I started using multiple monitors. I find it increases my productivity quite a bit and I couldn't imagine juggling all those RDP and VNC windows around with 1 screen. Multiple monitors are handy for a lot of things...
- Watching logfiles
- Watching status monitors on applications (eg. Cisco SDM/ASDM)
- Working on multiple remote desktops at once
- Keeping track of e-mail/chat windows while busy with something else
Not so IT stuff:
- Saving you from boredom while working on something else (ie. watch a video on the other screen)
- Working with graphics while a video finishes rendering (lets you keep track of what you're doing instead of maximizing windows to check on things all the time)
- Quickly changing songs in your music player
... and so on.
What it boils down to for me is the second monitor makes it easier to manage windows, and keep an eye on things while you're busy with something else. After a short while, using the second monitor becomes second nature. I find myself working on others' systems and looking for a place to shove application windows sometimes!
If none of this applies, maybe you aren't busy enough! :)
The area where i don't want to work without a second monitor again is programming, where its useful to e.g.:
- keep documentation or web searches and the IDE open
- have the application to debug open on one monitor, the IDE on the other
- keeping an eye on log-files etc. on the second monitor
You might find this tool useful:
It provides a set of short cut keys to "throw" windows to the left or right monitor and to further organise the currently focused window, I can't live without it on a single or dual monitor setup!
With a dual-monitor setup, you can use your computer for web browsing, music, and programming, as you say - SIMULTANEOUSLY!
A dual monitor setup seems almost useless to me in a "mirrored" mode. Set it up so you can use one monitor for one purpose, and the other monitor for another application.
Personally, I use my laptop screen for web browsing, and my larger monitor for programming and word processing. Add in Virtual Desktops/Spaces, and I almost never have to go looking for a buried window.