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Get More Done With Two Monitors

I remember the days when I only had one monitor connected to my computer. How did anyone get anything done in the those B.T.M. (Before Two Monitors) days? New research shows that working with dual monitors increases your productivity by at least 40%. Just imagine how much more genealogy research you could get done with two monitors.

As an example, on the left monitor, you could have your genealogy database open. On the right monitor, you could have the Internet open and view census images. If you find information in the right monitor, just copy and paste it into your application on the left.

If you have digital images on your computer, you could use the right monitor to view your digital image collection, while on the left you could preview one of the images at full screen.

As I write this article, I have my blog editor open on the left monitor. On my right monitor I have my email software and an Internet browser visible. I can easily go back and forth - it's like having one big screen.

How does it work?
Adding a second monitor is quite simple. Tony Northrup explains it simply in his article, Two monitors are better than one. Or watch Marshall Brain's two minute video demonstrating the step-by-step instructions. If you use a laptop as your primary computer, chances are it is already set up for dual monitors.

Once you use dual monitors you will never want to go back. You will honestly wonder how you ever used a computer with just one.


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Another way to accomplish the same as using two monitors is the use one large monitor. When my old 17 inch LCD died. I purchased a 24 inch monitor, and am able to do the same things described above. If some is looking at these two options, a consideration would be cost.

The time has come when any really earnest genealogist will have multiple screens at their home workstation. LCD monitors are at their lowest prices ever, and additional graphics (monitor) cards can be had for next to nothing. I have THREE monitors and wonder how I could get along with just two. For example, my center screen will show the NewFamilySearch website, my right-hand screen has my Legacy program on it, and my left-hand screen displays GenCircles (or allows me to do some web searches for other files.) Down at the bottom of the center screen is the nifty little control panel for the Windows Media file that is playing selected Tab Choir music, or whatever is my current interest. Needless to say, I'm in 'hog heaven' with my set-up.
One other advantage of multiple screens is that 'pop-ups' related to the program I'm working with can be 'dragged' over to another screen temporarily, if that pop-up is in front of something I also want to see. I know, I could minimize either one or the other, but there are great advantages to be able to see everything at once. Multiple screens can also allow for two or more displays of the internet showing at the same time (there's no limit as to how many times you can access your internet connection and have multiple internet screens displaying different data.) Here's an encouraging word for those of you who are technically timid -- get someone (neighbor, grandchild, child) to come and help you with the set-up. You'll never regret the extra 'screen power'.

I fully agree!

Few additional tips for advanced users:

- A feature of having two monitors is that you can maximize the opened window of a programm to ocupy two monitors. This way you can observe huge family charts which you can't print at home.
- You should use a software which comes along with a graphic card. This helps you configure a shortcut key combination to move an application window to the other monitor without a mouse. This is greate, since you can have more than two applications open and move the windows on the desktop left and right as you desire. This is faster and fare more efficient than minimizing and maximizing windows on the taskbar.

I realy can't remember how I was getting along with just one monitor!


On the other hand, you should see how much I can get done with four (4) that's right four. A friend of mine uses 5. We do everything from bookeeping to comparison shopping for yarn. They were a real life saver when I was trying to print a huge wall sized family tree for a reunion last year. Personally, I would like to have 12-- like those guys you see on TV once in a while. It makes it so easy to organize family records and recipes and photos. It is much simpler than it looks too. You will never be able to use just one again!

My son is a dedicated two-monitor person. But I achieve the same effect by switching between windows. I stretched my task bar so that I have two rows of task-bar buttons. I avoid grouping similar task bar buttons. So I can display the buttons for 22 windows at a time and switch back and forth instantly (as quickly as shifting my gaze between two monitors). Coping and pasting between windows is the same whether the windows are open in one monitor or 10 of them.

So I am unconvinced of the benefits of losing the desk space.

A much better solution is to just get a new LCD Widescreen monitor and you can do the same thing. The prices have really dropped and you can open two documents or programs side by side and it is very productive.

How pleased i was to see this article about dual monitor working as this is what i have been doing for the last four years. Exactly as the article states, i have my database open on my monitor directly in front of me and i have the Intenet and other windows open on another monitor on my right hand side. It really is much quicker and easier and its not hard to set up. If you haven't done this yet, go for it - as they say - you won't look back! Regards Chris Wareham.
p.s. i'll gladly swop any info on Wareham's you have. Thanks.

If you can't afford or don't have space for two monitors, you can imitate having two monitors by right clicking on the task bar at the bottom of your screen and selecting "show windows side by side". If your monitor is large enough, it is very effective.

Why spend the money for a second monitor when there is a downloadable program called Split View that will do the same thing on one screen? I have found it extremely handy to have my Legacy file running on one side while I either run searches or copy and paste data from the other side. Split View runs in the background with a pair of left-right arrows at top right of the screen. Just click on them in any program, and you are in business, able to view two different screens in one program or views of two different programs running side by side.

ok so everyone thinks its a good thing... how do i do it???

I'm a graphic designer who used two monitors for awhile and found it less convenient and ergonomic than just one big one. The 22"-or-larger one should be set for digital viewing and the highest resolution possible in order to display the most stuff. Having multiple browser windows and tabs available make switching between websites or programs so easy. Resizing windows allows you to view one or more simultaneously. Haven't tried "Split View" but it could be useful as well. (The idea of more than two screens makes my head hurt, and where would one put 'em all?)

Can you do this with Vista too? The directions on both the video and in the article mentioned XP.

I have a 24" main monitor, and still find the extra monitor handy. There is nothing that beats being able to see data side by side for comparison without extra keystokes, or having it too small to read.

One word of caution: If you use a laptop and have two windows open with Legacy be sure you move everything back to the laptop window before shutting down. I"ve found that if I've been using Legacy (and this is true of some other programs as well) and have had a dialog box open in the second window when I shut down, I can't open Legacy correctly away from home. To correct the problem I have to wait until I return home, attach the second monitor, and make sure Legacy and associated dialog boxes are closed from the laptop screen.

Could you not achieve the same thing by using Mozilla Firefox, which allows you to have multiple screen working? Even before i used this, in Outlook, I just had two things open in half a screen each - surely flashing from one screen to another simply causes problems with refocussing - sounds like an easy way to a migraine to me!!

I thoroughly agree with Sue Tyler | January 22, 2008 at 12:59 PM. Why have Windows or Firefox or another windows style browser and then use an extra monitor when opening a second or more windows would solve the problem!
Surely that IS the idea behind the windows style of browser!?

If a user thinks the widow size would be to small then perhaps it's time they tried glasses!

Why all the talk about split screens, huge monitors, and the such when for a $100 or less you can have another full size display at your elbow (or, for a coupleahundred, at both elbows if you want.) Yes, you can toggle between programs on a single display, but why suffer the agony of trying to type onto your genealogy program the family data shown on the hidden display. Unless you have a better memory than I do, it's (toggle) read the first name (toggle) type it onto your display (toggle) read the last name (toggle) start to type it and then wonder, 'Is that Mc or Mac?' so (toggle) verify name (toggle) type (toggle) and so on. OR you can be looking at the full data on the screen at your elbow WHILE typing superspeed into your main screen record. Believe me, most of us cannot afford a 24" display and on a regular (not widescreen) 17" or 19" display, split screen fonts are difficult to read unless you have very young eyes. It's not that hard nor expensive to move out of the old mindset (one computer - one screen). Once you've moved to a multiple screen format, you'll never, ever, want to return to the old ways.

I realize I am a technology dinosaur but I was able to set this up with no problem at all. I dug out an old monitor I had and it was easy as pie to get it up and running with my laptop. I just wish someone had told me how to do this years ago!!! I have the census records up and running on the left monitor and I have Legacy on my laptop. It is so nice not having to toggle between screens. Thanks so much for posting this but I won't forgive for not doing it sooner :)


I would walk through shark infested waters for two monitors. I feel that my research rate has increased 10 fold with my two 20" monitors. I did not like dragging the screen over or toggling between programs.

I've been using 2 monitors for quite some time now, and it's really great. It saves a lot of time transferring between windows
The only issue I'm facing is when I want to "drag and drop" information into Legacy fields, as the only ones I can do this to are the notes field. Otherwise, I have to "cut and paste".

Perhaps this could be an enhancement in the next release ;)

? I have a dell XP is there a way to connect my older laptop 98 to use it for the 2nd moniter?

Since reading this article I've started using dual monitors. It's unreal. No more trying to toggle back and forth. My only problem is when I shut down for the night, the next time I turn on my computer, the settings have to be reset again. Most times the 2nd monitor has become the main one. Any ideas?

I have two computers and two monitors. Is there any way possible to connect both together? Just wondering.

For those who may be technically challanged [don't have or don't want to mess with installing another video card] but still want the advantages of dual computers - that was me - I recommend getting "Viewport" from P I Engineering. Plugs into your USB port and works like a charm! Dual monitors beats split screen hands down.

this sounds great nowhow do I get it setup?

Harold - click on the link for Marshall Brain's demonstration. Basically you just need a video card (the "thing" in the back of your computer where you plug your monitor in) with two inputs. It's even easier if you use a laptop and a monitor together. I think the video shows how to do both.

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