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Multiple Monitors: One Way To Get More Display Space

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Daniel Dern wanted to be able to see more onscreen when he's working, without ponying up the $600 or more for a large high-quality LCD flatscreen display, so he did a bit of research and found a myriad of multiple-monitor solutions that might work for various hardware configurations. Check out his experiences as he experimented to find the least expensive, if not necessarily most workable, solution.
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More Display Space = Greater Productivity?

Some months ago, in considering how I could be more productive and get some of my work done faster, I wondered whether one answer might be more display space than my 17-inch CRT offers.

  • What if I could do tricks like the following?
  • View a full 8½-by-11-inch page
  • See two pages side by side
  • Display a browser window alongside my word processor window
  • Have windows open on mail, news, calendar, schedule, and buddy list—all visible concurrently

As it turns out, I’m not the only one with this idea. Aside from the obvious reality that bigger monitors are available, and increasingly common in other peoples’ offices, in a recent press release, NEC cited some examples of how increasing screen space has dramatically improved productivity for organizations such as Forbes.com.

Like me, you may be tantalized by the possibility of more screen space—but also, like me, feeling that dangerous combination of frugal and adventurous. This article covers some techniques and products that you can try. A few notes before we jump right in:

  • I haven’t tried all of these methods, so I can’t vouch for how well they’ll work—although I hope to try one or two more approaches in the months to come, notably the MaxiVista software hack.
  • Your computer, workspace, budget, or other constraints may not accommodate some of these suggestions.
  • Some of the advice, workarounds, and/or products here are Windows-specific. This shouldn’t be construed as an endorsement or recommendation for any particular OS. I know that Linux and Mac OS computers can handle multiple monitors, but that’s all I know so far; I haven’t had a chance to play with my Linux installation yet.
  • If you’re running Windows, one marginal (but free) space-making tweak is to banish as many of the toolbars as possible, starting with the Windows Taskbar.
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