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If I have a 1-over-3 monitor (shown below), is it possible to split the desktop experience into two sections -- one for the bottom three, and a separate for the top one?

For example, I want to use the top one as an HUD of sorts, with various instrumentation that I will interact with only rarely, or video from a video conference call. So I want my main experience to be limited to the bottom three monitors, and then have a shortcut to switch between the two experiences as needed.

I know there are virtual desktop apps, but from what I'm seeing, this is more about having an experience like OSX Spaces.

I just want one set of desktops -- the four that are visible -- but I want the bottom three and top one to be switched between with a shortcut.

Is this possible?

1 over 3 monitors

  • If I understand you correctly, you don't want the mouse to be able to access the top monitor unless you use some type of shortcut? If correct, that's such a weird requirement that I seriously doubt anything out there does this. To get the same effect you could have a separate computer drive the top monitor and just use a KVM switch to swap between the two. OR, much simpler, just don't move your mouse to the top monitor. – NotMe May 22 '14 at 19:06
  • @ChrisLively Yeah, I know this is weird. But it's a UX+psychological thing. Windows has a lot of subtle UX tied to the edges of screens, and that edge goes away if Windows sees another adjacent monitor. For example, when I want to close or move a Window, I automatically push my mouse to the top without regard to distance. If another screen is up there, the UX is affected. Again, this is very subtle, but after all this is the "super user" site, where subtlety is important. – Jerad Rose May 22 '14 at 19:27
  • Well, I have to admit that that makes perfect sense. – NotMe May 22 '14 at 19:29
  • @ChrisLively I think I found the best solution that may be possible. Check it out below. – Jerad Rose May 23 '14 at 14:51
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I found a good tool that I believe will accommodate this. While I'm not sure it's possible for Windows to recognize the top screen as independent from the bottom three screens, there are tools that allow you to lock the mouse within a screen.

This thread on Gaming lists several mouse locking tools, but unfortunately, most of them assume you want to lock the mouse within a single screen (and maybe this would work with with Eyefinity).

But I found DDMM which allows a pretty open configuration of "screens", which can be any area. So I can define one "screen" for the top monitor, and another for the bottom three monitors.

As you can see in the options, you can allow a "soft" lock which will just delay the mouse crossing borders, or you can have a "hard" lock which will require holding the CTRL key down to cross borders.

I don't have this monitor setup yet, so I can't confirm for sure that it will work. But based on some tests I did across two monitors, it seems to work like I want it.

Like I said, the caveat is that Windows still will not recognize these borders, so you can't, for example, drag a window to the top of the screen for it to maximize. But there are workarounds for that I should probably be using anyway.

DDMM Screenshot

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This is not possible in Windows natively. Having said that, check the control center that comes with your graphics card, as well looking for 3rd party apps.

For example, I have the same physical monitor configuration as you do in your question. With my graphics card (and the PhysX drivers installed), I can set up any number of monitors into a "Surround viewing space," essentially letting me make the bottom three monitors a single scree, and leaving the 4th monitor, center-top as an independent display.

  • I'm pretty sure he's asking for the names of any 3rd party apps that support this. He already knows how to set up multiple monitors. The question is how to prevent accessing a particular monitor without using a hotkey. – NotMe May 22 '14 at 19:31

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