Best Software to Manage Dual Monitors

If you’re in IT, you probably have a multi-monitor setup in your office or home, right? I currently use dual monitors both at my office and at home. Once you start using a computer with more than one monitor, it’s nearly impossible to go back to just one!

Dual monitors are great because you simultaneously work with multiple programs full screen. Though many people only perform one task at a time on their computers, IT folk usually have at least 10 to 15 different windows open at any given time.

Dual monitors makes us more effective. However, if you are using dual monitors with just the default Windows XP or Windows Vista graphics options, you are really missing out on a lot. There are several things that I hate about a default dual monitor setup:

1. In order to move one application from one monitor to the second or third, you first have to minimize the application and then drag it over to the other monitor! Royal pain.

2. Even though some applications will be on your primary monitor and some on your secondary monitor, all of the applications shows up in the taskbar. This makes it very hard to figure out which program is on which monitor. It’s a lot easier to have a separate taskbar for each monitor with just the programs showing on that specific monitor.

3. There is no way to stretch one application all the way across both monitors. This is really awesome if you have a long Excel spreadsheet that requires a lot of scrolling. If you can stretch the app across two or three monitors, you can see two to three times as many columns!

In order to overcome these limitations, you need to use third party multi-monitor management software. There are really only two worth mentioning, but they are not free. I will also mention one free app that has a small subset of the features in the commercial programs.

UltraMon

dual monitor software

UltraMon is probably the best utility for multi-monitor system because it has the most features. Unfortunately, it costs $40. However, what you get is this:

  • Ability to quickly move windows or maximize windows across the desktop
  • Control the position of applications with shortcuts
  • Ability to have different wallpapers and different screen savers on each monitor
  • Ability to mirror the primary display to a secondary monitor for presentations
  • Ability to segment programs onto the appropriate taskbars

They have also released a new version that supports Windows XP and Windows Vista. Overall, UltraMon is a great program for managing multiple displays. However, the second program I am about to mention, DisplayFusion, has all of the features of UltraMon except for the ability to maximize one program across screen, but only costs $15.

DisplayFusion

multi monitor software

For my own dual monitor setup, I ended up purchasing DisplayFusion because it has nearly all of the features of UltraMon and only costs $15 (after you convert Canadian currency to USD).

Actually, except for the fact that DisplayFusion cannot maximize an application, it works better than UltraMon. For example, in DisplayFusion, you can simply click the middle button on your mouse while hovering over the title bar of a program to instantly zap it onto another monitor.

With UltraMon, you have to press a button that sits in the top right of the title bar or you have to use a keyboard shortcut. Another advantage DisplayFusion has is that it connects to Flickr and allows you to automatically rotate your desktop wallpapers using Flickr pictures.

UltraMon only allows you to choose a picture already stored on your computer. Both programs allow you to drag a fully maximized window to another monitor. All of the other features are pretty much the same according to my testing.

 

MultiMon

software dual monitors

MultiMon is a third candidate for managing multi-monitor setups. The program comes in two flavors: free and PRO. The free version basically adds a second taskbar to your second monitor. That’s about it for the free version, there are really no other useful functions.

However, if you want to spend no money and get two taskbars that show only the applications from that monitor, then this works well. The PRO version add some more features such as the ability to stretch one program across multiple desktops, better handling of windows between screens with different resolutions, theme support for second/third taskbar, etc.

The PRO version costs $28, so it’s almost right in-between DisplayFusion and UltraMon, making the choice even tougher!

Really, it all depends on what features you want. If you can’t live without the stretchable programs across multiple desktops, than you can cut out DisplayFusion. What is your favorite dual monitor software? Let us know in the comments! Enjoy!

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  1. Rick says:

    Actually, without using any 3rd-party software you can stretch a window across multiple monitors just be resizing it…but if you do it often you'll want a tool for the job.

  2. Aseem says:

    Rick,

    Can you explain how you stretch a window across multiple monitors without any software? I tried to maximize the window, however, it just maximizes on one screen.

    I know you can un-maximize the window and then drag out the edges across both screens, but is there a way to do it without having to manually resize the windows?

    Thanks

  3. Steve J says:

    Great Article Aseem…

    Right now I am using UltraMon but I'm thinking about switching to Display Fusion because UM is a tiny bit buggy (although they are always improving it).

    This was useful though in explaining some of the small variants in each program. I think I'll switch over and see if I like DisplayFusion better.

    Thanks again

  4. Frank says:

    Umm, I know this article isn't very old, barely a month… But the current version of DisplayFusion DOES allow you to span a window across multiple monitors. I'm using it right now and it works flawlessly.

    I tried out both UM and DF (they both offer free trials), and I ended up going with DF for one or two minor reasons, but the biggest reason is the way it handles wallpapers. With DF you can define a different folder of images for each monitor, and having one 16:9 display alongside a 4:3 display that was a very welcome feature.

    The only way to get random wallpaper switching on UM is via a script and although I imagine you could write it to work like that, I wasn't sure if it's possible, but DF does it outright so…

    I felt like DF had a couple more useful hotkeyshortcuts than UM too. UltraMon was a bit more tweakable overall, but some of the options were just common sense windows behavior stuff that 90% of people would leave at default settings imo.

    If you're on the fence best bet is to try them both out. Oh and if you like UM better and you're running two displays with identical resolutions, you might wanna take a look at John's Background Switcher, it's another app I ran into which compliments UM well (has a lot of the same scaling/randomization functionality for wallpapers that DF has, plus some extra montage/facebook/flickr features).

  5. squirrel says:

    I am using UM and it does everyhting I need it to do although the tweaking for size is a bit time consuming and I think that a great feature to all of these would be a built-in Vectorscope and or color bar and a way to balance whites against one another.

    This would be an excellent feature when using multiple mons for photo or vid editing.

    It took me forever to get to dissimilar screens to match in UM.

  6. Malcolm says:

    Interesting items on this, which I am just looking into, but not very IT.

    Have just bought a new PC with Samsung 24" screen and the old PC has a Flatron LG 18" and was thinking of retaining that. Have Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit and wondered if the DF or UM software would work equally as well with that?

    Thanks

    M

  7. richardp says:

    Another New Cheap Dual Monitor Software out there at murgee.com/MurGeeMon/ offering shortcuts, indivual monitor background images, way to move window across dual monitor, resolution controller, orientation controller and lots of monitor control related stuff.

  8. Alex says:

    I've recommend to take a look at Actual Multiple Monitors. This very nice tool adds the taskbars to all the secondary monitors, with the Start button, toolbars, clock and even tray (notification area). It also allows to set multi-monitor wallpapers, and screensavers.

  9. Michael says:

    My personal recommendation is Actual Multiple Monitors (actualtools.com/multiplemonitors/). It is a most powerful utility among others and it works fine under Windows 7.

    The most important feature for me is an additional taskbar on my second monitor that has all features of main taskbar like Start button and tray area with notification icons. Even more, it has Pin to Taskbar feature of Windows 7.

  10. Thejr007 says:

    Display fusion for the win.

    I was running ultramon for years before I found out about DF. It does everything Ultramon did and more… but the best feature is the live preview like windows 7 does out of the box… It would be nice if DF made an exact duplicate of the functionality that the main taskbar does ( without the start button and notifications section )

    Oh and as for wallpaper software… You are all wasting your time and money on this software.

    Go right now and download JBS ( johns background switcher ) its free! Puts both of these packages to shame and I dare say any other pay for wallpaper changing software! Links to over a dozen sites and handles multi monitor no problem with tons of options.

  11. big_BAG says:

    Actually, Multiple Monitors 3.0 is the BEST for me and my Windows 7 Ultimate x64. =)

    It allows me to use all Win 7 features on each monitor. Thus, I have three fully functional desktops, each with its own start button, system tray, taskbar, pinned buttons, etc. GREAT!! =)

    I really recommend it.

  12. Alex says:

    Another dual monitor manager software inspired by ultramon, etc., at murgee.com/MurGeeMon/. And, yes it works and is cheap: $5.00 only.

  13. Chris says:

    Thanks for the recommendations. I'm going to tryout UltraMon.

  14. Frank says:

    Use Wiki's Comparison Table of Multi-Monitor Software to select the best software for you:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_multi-monitor_software

  15. mvisser says:

    Totally frustrating! No one addresses the following: Download 2 Web programs. Try running them independently on dual monitors. No go. One replaces the other. Only place to see them is on the WEB page tabs. But you CANNOT RUN THEM SIMULTANEOUSLY ON 2 MONITORS. Who has an answer?

  16. Raj says:

    another new software for managing multiple monitors – murgee.com/MurGeeMon/

  17. Sam says:

    Actual Multiple Monitors has freeware edition now – actualtools.com/multiplemonitors

  18. frag88 says:

    You can buy Actual Multiple Monitors with 40% Christmas Discount now. Only for $18.

  19. saman says:

    thank you very much

  20. Dan says:

    Stop spamming your program! If we want to buy it, we’ll refer to the other 5 posts you already made about it. Unfortunately in software, the best program wins without much advertising needed…

  21. Dennis says:

    I use DisplayFusion and have yet to run into anything that requires an “extra” program to be downloaded along side it. DF Has worked wonderfully for me for 8 months now, I’m a bit of an IT and have multiple monitors open at any given time. Highly recommended and top on my list of Multi-Monitor applications.

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