Up until very recently, I considered myself a dual monitor skeptic. The idea of doubling my screen space seemed appealing, but the potential hassle outweighed the upsides.
As of the past couple of weeks, however, I have been fully converted to #TeamDualMonitor. A second screen is an investment that most people in a tech or white collar industry would benefit from — doubly so if you’re working from home.
The best way to use dual monitors
If both of your monitors is the same size and you’re able to place them side by side, then congratulations, you can expect to have a smoother dual monitor experience.
In my case, however, the first of my two screens happens to be my laptop, which is smaller than my second monitor. Actively switching between them is therefore a tad disorienting.
If this is similar to your situation, your best bet is to keep one screen active and the other static. Your static screen should display a window that you’ll have to interact with infrequently or not at all. Your active screen, which should be the screen closest to you, will be where you do most of your work.
Generally speaking, the static screen is best for communication. Work-related Zoom calls, for instance, often demand your attention while only rarely requiring interaction, and are therefore ideal for the second screen. Another possibility is to reserve the static screen for your email inbox.
If you’re trying to solve a difficult problem, the static screen can also be used to display instructions, walkthroughs, or tutorial videos, saving you from the friction of having to change windows at each stage of what you’re doing.
A second monitor is inexpensive compared to the price of a laptop or desktop computer, usually running no more than $200 for a spacious model. Nonetheless, the price is substantial enough that it should be considered when budgeting for a new setup.
Powering two displays at once may also be taxing on your computer’s graphics card, and some older card models cannot handle a second display at all. Ensure that you do due diligence when buying or building a new computer if you intend to use dual monitors.