I have a media computer running Windows 7 hooked up to a projector as the primary display. I've hooked up a cheap secondary monitor so I can play music and do other simple tasks without turning on the projector (waiting for it to warm up, wearing out the expensive bulb, etc.).

I have it set up as a secondary monitor. I'd like to duplicate displays, but the secondary monitor doesn't support the projector's resolution. I can extend the desktop across both displays, but when the projector is turned off I can't easily access applications running on that display.

I know how to use the Win+Left / Win+Right buttons to move a focused application, but that will hopelessly confuse my wife and kids. How would you recommend managing applications from the secondary monitor when the primary is turned off - bringing them to the secondary monitor so I can change music on Pandora, etc.? Is there a (preferably free or cheap) utility you'd recommend?

  • 1
    The correct answer is 'Train them to use shortcuts', unfortunately. It's not exactly rocket surgery... – Shinrai Mar 11 '11 at 20:09

Do you try to use hotkey Win+P. Pressing Win+P allows you to run the Windows 7 dialog to cycle through the different output options (clone, extend, second only, first only). So, you can quickly disable your projector and start to work on secondary monitor.


Check out Borderline



That's a tricky one, as Windows doesn't know if the monitor is just 'off' or not.

Check out Realtime Soft's UltraMon, its got swappable monitor profiles and a bunch of other features that may help you accomplish what you're looking to do. Example features that may help:

Display profiles make it easy to switch between different desktop configurations. A profile stores the display mode, position and state (enabled/disabled) of each monitor, as well as which monitor is primary.

With UltraMon, you can create shortcuts that open programs on a specific monitor or at a specific position, and optionally change display settings before launching the application and restoring them when you close the application.


Also check out DisplayFusion. It offers similar functionality to Ultramon, but has a better price and seems to be under more active development.


(I know this doesn't answer your question directly) but here's what I do:

I have setup VNC to control the PC. And use either an iPad or laptop to control it.

It works well, because with the iPad, you can stretch & zoom or the laptop if I want to move files around etc.


The cheapest (and easiest, imo) is to just set your secondary monitor as Primary if you know you're going to use that for the time being. Before your wife or kids go on, you can quickly assign it as Primary/single monitor mode and all the windows will open from there. Once you/they are finished, just set it back to dual monitor mode, with Projector being Primary.

I'm not sure what graphics card you are using, but I use Nvidia cards and I can switch back and forth through its control panel in less than 3 seconds.

EDIT: As someone already mentioned, you can use Win+P to switch between dual/single/extended even quicker!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.