Dualing Monitor's With ATi


There has been quite a bit of interest shown of late regarding Dual Monitor setups on computers.  As most mid- to high-end graphics cards come with the capability to run two monitors people want to get the most out of their hardware.  Monitor's have also come down in price to where you can afford two, and let's face it - Dual Display is cool.

Today we going to take a very quick look at setting up a dual-display system on ATi graphics cards.  We will cover both Cloned Display mode (same picture on both) as well as Extended Desktop Mode (different picture on each).  It's really quite simple once you know what's going on.  This is more of a n00b guide.

Before you begin, it's always a good idea to set a restore point, and to grab the latest drivers for your ATi Graphic Card.  You can get the Catalyst 5.1 drivers over here.  Also, make sure both monitors are hooked up and powered on before you continue.

Enable/Disable Clone Mode:

Clone mode is the display feature where both monitors display the same picture.  When you add a second monitor to your system, often Windows will detect the other display automatically and clone your first display.  While this can be nifty if you want other people to be able to see what you've got going on, it doesn't help personal productivity.  To disable or enable clone mode you have to go to the settings tab under "Display Properties".  To get to the "Display Properties" simply right-click your Desktop and choose Properties.

What you may find confusing is that when your displays are cloned by Windows, it shows your second monitor grayed out.  The idea of the two monitors on the "Settings" tab is to control each monitor independently.  When you are running cloned, you don't have that capability.  To enable or disable cloned mode, you must go to the "Advanced" settings by clicking the button on the bottom of this window.  Once you're at the advanced settings, head on over to the "Displays" Tab.  Click the "Power Button" on the second display to turn it on or off.  Then click apply.

Cloning you display or disabling it is just that simple.  Keep in mind that when you're cloned, you cannot adjust independent refresh rates or screen resolutions for each monitor.  They will both be the same.

Enable/Disable Extended Desktop Mode:

If you want to enable the Extended Desktop mode for dual displays, you must first make sure that you are not currently "cloning" your display as mentioned above.  Once your secondary monitor is dark, right-click the desktop, select properties, and head on over to the "Settings" tab once again.

This time, either right click the greyed-out monitor or try to drag it by left-clicking and holding.  When you do this you may be met with the following message:

At this point, click Yes, and then you may have to click apply.  Make sure that the "Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor" is selected in the Settings tab shown above and your second display should spring to life with a blank background.  You should be able to move your mouse out the side of the main screen and onto the new desktop.  To disable the extended desktop, simply right-click the display you want removed and "Unattach" it.

With extended desktop enabled you have the ability to change which monitor is the default monitor and even which side the secondary monitor is on.  Simply drag and drop the monitor in the settings tab to their desired location.  You can even stack them on top of each other.  I've used this when using a laptop on a keyboard drawer with a larger monitor behind it.  Very cool stuff indeed.

Making Making The Most Of Two Monitors:

Having two monitors greatly increases productivity, but there is still a drawback with the setup at this point.  While you now have the ability to view two applications at once, moving them back and forth between monitors can be a pain.  Enter Ultramon.  This little software gem allows you to simply click and send the application to the other monitor and back again.  It also allows you to assign hotkeys, different wallpaper for each monitor and different screensavers for each monitor.

Below is a screenshot of some of the features and settings available.  Notice the two new buttons at the top right of the window.  The button on the left allows you to span the window accross both desktops.  The button on the right of the aforementioned one allows you to send the window to your secondary display.  One click goodness.

Having two monitor increases productivity by over 80% in my opinion, and when coupled with a nifty little app like Ultramon, it just increases from there.

Hopefully this little guide helps you to figure out how to enable/disable both the clone mode and extended desktop mode on your ATI graphics card.  If you have any questions or comments, please head on over and post them in this forum thread here.