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Series: Multiple Monitors!
Take advantage of one of the Mac's best-kept secrets
Article 1 of 4 in series
When Tonya and I were visiting family a few months back, we learned that Geoff Duncan was in a panic after experiencing a catastrophic hardware failure back at TidBITS HeadquartersShow full article
When Tonya and I were visiting family a few months back, we learned that Geoff Duncan was in a panic after experiencing a catastrophic hardware failure back at TidBITS Headquarters. The dead hardware was not a computer or a hard disk, but one of his two monitors, which had gone out with a puff of smoke. Understanding the urgency of the situation, we immediately told Geoff to borrow a monitor from one of our machines while we were away; luckily, he already had a line on borrowing a 17-inch monitor from another friend.
By now you're thinking, "Surely you only need a single monitor!" After all, that's what most people have, want, or think they can use. However, I'd argue that adding a second monitor to your Macintosh is possibly the single most important thing you can do to improve your productivity (assuming you have a relatively fast Mac with enough RAM).
Why Two? Here's the basic argument for why anyone who does serious work on the Mac needs two monitors. For most users, the Macintosh interface is graphical. The important information in the interface is what you see on the screen, and you constantly interact with what you see, generally via an external pointing device. If we assume a monitor is necessary for a graphical interface, it's a small step to agree that a larger monitor is better than a smaller monitor. Almost no one would choose the small built-in screen of an SE/30 over a 13-inch monitor with 640 by 480 pixels. Similarly, given sufficient desk space, a 13-inch monitor would be rejected instantly in favor of a 17-inch monitor that could provide 832 by 624 pixels. Most 17-inch monitors can run at different resolutions, so 1,024 by 768 pixels is usable if your eyes are good. In fact, most people immediately set their monitors to the highest possible resolution for the simple reason that they can see more onscreen.
In short, the more pixels, the better. A 640 by 480 resolution provides 307,200 pixels; an 832 by 624 resolution comes in at 519,168 pixels; and 1024 by 768 increases the total to 786,432. Obviously, one way to get more pixels is to buy a bigger monitor or to run your existing monitor at a higher resolution (check the Monitors & Sound control panel for the possibilities - not all will work, but it's worth playing with). That's exactly what PC users do.
But we're not PC users, and we're not using PCs.
If you install a video card in your Mac (most Macs have internal video for the first monitor) and connect another monitor to that video card, the Macintosh will Do the Right Thing and treat the two monitors as a single, big desktop space. This is nothing new - with the right system software and monitor adapters, I believe even the Mac Plus and SE can support multiple monitors (though you'll have a tough time finding the necessary hardware and software now). Add a cheap 13-inch monitor running at 640 by 480 to your 17-inch monitor running at 1,024 by 768, and suddenly you jump from 786,432 pixels to a whopping 1,075,632 pixels.
Expansion Strategies -- So far, my platform has been based on the single plank that more pixels are better. Although this seems self-explanatory, most people don't realize how to take advantage of extra screen real estate. Desktop publishing folks were the first to adopt larger monitors because they wanted to see a full page - or even a two-page spread - without scrolling. That rationale is still the most common: people want to see more of a word processing document, more of a Web page, more of a spreadsheet, or whatever. When I wrote my Eudora book, I had to write in QuarkXPress using an existing template file. The font sizes were too small to read comfortably on screen unless I zoomed to 150 percent, but then I couldn't fit a two-page spread on one screen, even on my large monitors. So, every time I opened one of my documents, I sized its window across both my screens (QuarkXPress remembered window size and position, but only on a single monitor) so that I could see one page on each monitor. Decadent, perhaps, but being able to avoid constant scrolling left and right saved me a good deal of time and frustration.
In fact, working with a single window spanning both my monitors is extremely unusual. Normally, when I write a book, I position my Nisus Writer document on one monitor and keep the program about which I'm writing on the other. Some publishers require full-screen screenshots, so it's handy to take screenshots without hiding and showing different applications. When I've had to write cross-platform Internet books, I open a Timbuktu Pro window to the PC and position that on my secondary monitor so I can write without jumping back and forth between machines.
Even with the utility of two monitors while writing books, it's the day-to-day usage that makes the difference for me. I work in essentially four applications all the time, a Web browser (currently Internet Explorer 4.0), an email program (Eudora Pro 4.0), a word processor (Nisus Writer 5.1), and a calendar program (Now Up-to-Date 3.5). Those four programs - plus a few others like The Tilery (an application launcher), the FTP client Anarchie, and Webster's Electronic dictionary - launch at startup. Those programs which open windows place their windows in precisely predefined positions each time, and I almost never move those windows. The final piece of the puzzle is Binary Software's KeyQuencer, which I use to switch between applications using the function keys at the top of the keyboard.
The result is that with a single mouse click or keypress, I've switched to an application. At the same time, my gaze moves to the appropriate spot on my desktop. For instance, if I'm reading email from a friend suggesting lunch, I can check for possible dates with a press of F15 and a glance into the upper left corner of my secondary monitor, where Now Up-to-Date's month view and to-do list windows always live. A click back to the email message on my primary monitor and I can reply to the message while still viewing my calendar. Similarly, if I'm writing an article and I need to verify a URL, F12 brings Internet Explorer to the front on my secondary monitor, I enter the appropriate URL, and while the page loads, I switch back to the Nisus Writer document on my primary screen and keep typing. Once I notice there's no more motion from the Web browser window on the secondary monitor, I glance back to see if the information I need is visible, or work back and forth between the Web and my document.
Few people work the way I do, but I bet many people use multiple applications and have felt frustrated by the window clutter on a too-small desktop.
Multiple Monitor Theory -- Here are some thoughts on using multiple monitors effectively. I've tested these theories on Tonya - who hates being told how to do things - and even she admits these techniques work.
First, make one monitor your primary and the other your secondary. If your monitors are different sizes, make the bigger one your primary monitor. Do this by opening the Monitors & Sounds control panel, clicking the Arrange button at the top, and then dragging the menu bar on the little representative monitors to the larger screen. Choose resolutions and rearrange the monitors as you want as well before closing the Monitors & Sound Control panel. Under System 7.5 and earlier, you can do similar things using the Monitors control panel.
You can arrange the monitors any way you like, but I always make the primary monitor my right-hand monitor because then the default position for drives, the Trash, and new files on the desktop is at the right margin of the right-hand screen, which is almost always visible. If you make your left-hand monitor the primary screen, those icons will still appear on the right-hand side, but that's now in the middle of your working space and they're more likely to be covered while you're working. The goal here is maximum visibility, since moving windows and hiding applications wastes time. In addition, since most applications create new windows on the left-hand side of the primary monitor, I find it's better to have your primary work window be toward the middle of your virtual desktop than at the left-hand side of the left-hand monitor.
Once you've decided on your monitor arrangement, think for a moment about the applications you use most often and classify them as "active" or "passive." Active applications are those into which you type, draw, or generally work. Passive applications are those in which you mostly just read. For me, Eudora and Nisus Writer are active applications: I focus on them constantly while dealing with email and or composing text. In contrast, Internet Explorer and Now Up-to-Date are passive applications. Though I may type a URL into Internet Explorer or create an event in Now Up-to-Date, I mostly look at them for reference while working in Eudora or Nisus Writer. You might also categorize a few windows in the Finder the same way, depending on how frequently you manipulate files.
If you have the RAM for it, launch commonly used applications at startup by placing aliases to them in the Startup Items folder. (Tonya uses a shareware utility called Delayed Startup Items to launch her frequently used programs shortly but not immediately after startup. This saves her from waiting for everything to launch before getting to work.) Most programs have only one or two main windows or palettes (which could be considered a subset of passive applications, depending on how you use them), so take some time to arrange those windows on your desktop, putting active applications on your primary monitor and passive applications on your secondary monitor. Remember that the goal is maximum visibility, so, for instance, I ensure that Internet Explorer's window on my secondary monitor doesn't quite reach the bottom of the screen, where I have four docked Finder windows (a feature of Mac OS 8). Although those docked windows are available from the Finder, they also open from another application with a single click.
Speaking of the Finder, if you like to use drag & drop, consider positioning copies of StuffIt Expander, DropStuff, and maybe your desktop printers on your secondary monitor near the bottom right, which isn't likely to be covered. I like using Rick Holzgrafe's The Tilery to provide tiles for active applications and a few others - I generally have it draw tiles vertically down the right edge of the secondary monitor, which puts a visual interface to my active applications in the middle of my work space. If something covers it, it's not a big deal since I have multiple ways of switching between applications.
After you set window positions, work with them for a day or two, noting when it seems awkward to use an application on the secondary monitor or when you must hide applications to switch back and forth easily. Once you find the best positions for your standard windows, don't move them! Much of the productivity gain of multiple monitors is that you can be assured your calendar window, for instance, will always be in the same place. Think of how annoying it would be if the keyhole for your car door moved every few days rather than staying put.
Negatives -- I won't pretend that there aren't problems created by working with two monitors. There's the expense. You must purchase a video card (although a few Mac models, including some of the first NuBus Power Macs, came with a video card in addition to the internal video port). New cards start at about $200 and go up to about $500. Similarly, you'll need another monitor, and new monitors can range from $200 to $2,000. If you're not independently wealthy, I recommend scavenging for a video card and monitor. If you know anyone who uses two monitors and has upgraded to a new computer, they probably have an extra video card. My previous desktop Mac, a Centris 660AV, is doing backup work now and doesn't need two monitors, so I lent its NuBus video card - which I couldn't use in my PCI-based Power Mac 8500 - to a friend with a Power Mac 7100. Monitors can be easy to come by, since many people start with a relatively small monitor and are happy to sell it when they upgrade to a larger one. The best place to look for used equipment like this is your local user group.
If you have two monitors of different sizes, your Mac's desktop won't be rectangular, but you can arrange the screens so they work. I like the top edges of the monitors to be at the same level, and I'll put blocks under the smaller monitor so that both screens line up. Two identical monitors are ideal, though.
If you want to join the multiple monitor crowd, you need a desk that can support the weight. For years, my desk was a hollow-core door that wasn't strong in the middle, and I couldn't use my first 21-inch monitor for several months because my desk couldn't support it. When shopping for a new desk at IKEA (see "You Move Me" and "Keep on Moving" in TidBITS-301 and TidBITS-302), I surreptitiously sat on one before buying to test for strength.
Physical position is important. Position your primary monitor so you can look straight at it - cranking your neck constantly is guaranteed to cause health problems. I have my monitors positioned so the gap created by where the cases meet is directly in front of me, and both monitors are rotated in towards each other slightly, giving me an almost direct view of both with minimal motion of my head.
The final problem caused by multiple monitors is that moving around that much desktop space can be difficult. I tend to set the speed settings on my Kensington TurboMouse trackball fairly high so I can zip around quickly. I've never gotten the hang of the TurboMouse feature that sets "sticky" spots on the screen and jumps to them quickly. It's possible that trackballs work better with large desktops; however, both Tonya and Geoff prefer to use a mouse. Finally, before Mac OS 8 came out with its Command-Delete keyboard shortcut for deleting selected files, I used to make an alias to the Trash and place it on the second monitor, to shorten the distance to the Trash.
Maximize Productivity -- Apple has never sufficiently promoted the capabilities of most Macs with regard to multiple monitors. I say "most Macs" because recent PowerBooks can only do "video mirroring," a confusing term that means the image on one screen is duplicated on the second. When I raised that as a significant issue with the PowerBook product managers, they blamed the limitation on companies that took advantage of their PC development to cut costs on the PowerBook video controllers. They claimed to be working with these companies to bring complete video support back to the PowerBook video controllers, but those folks left Apple shortly thereafter to start another company.
That whining aside, support for multiple monitors has long been a great differentiator for the Macintosh, and one that both the Mac community and Apple would do well to encourage and explain. For years, PCs were incapable of using multiple monitors to create a larger desktop. Now, at least Matrox offers a video card that can support multiple monitors when used with Windows NT, and Windows 98 is supposed to offer multiple monitor support as well. Will Apple expand and enhance this fabulous existing capability, or will it gradually become yet another feature that Macs had and PCs popularize?
Reportedly, multiple monitor support is considered a "must have" feature for Rhapsody, and it should even work on Intel-based machines with the proper video cards. In addition, Rhapsody DR1 is supposed to support multiple monitors already. I'd be unlikely to switch to Rhapsody when it comes out if it won't support my monitors. Protected memory, preemptive multitasking, and a fully functional Blue Box wouldn't make up for the loss.
Article 2 of 4 in series
I was almost overwhelmed with the responses to my "Double the Fun with Multiple Monitors" article in TidBITS-421. It seems that many people use multiple monitors, and those people who have several screens are as addicted to them as I am. Show full article
I was almost overwhelmed with the responses to my "Double the Fun with Multiple Monitors" article in TidBITS-421. It seems that many people use multiple monitors, and those people who have several screens are as addicted to them as I am.
Finding Another Monitor -- Several people bemoaned the cost of using multiple monitors. I sympathize with the problem and agree that it's not easy to find video cards and monitors for free; however, with an inexpensive monitor adapter most Macs can use most PC monitors. It's best to use a multisync monitor, but even a straight VGA monitor should work. [In addition, Marc Zeedar
It's almost impossible to buy new grayscale monitors these days, but the fact that many consider them outdated may prove helpful in finding a cheap used one. You can use it for situations where color isn't important (such as network monitoring, email, or word processing).
A few people commented that if you have an AV Mac with video-out capabilities, you can use a television as an additional monitor. The resolution isn't great, and you may need extra VRAM, but it's a decent way to preview Web pages at 640 by 480.
Running Interference? Many readers asked about interference between monitors pushed close together, resulting in waviness or color shifts on one or both monitors. I'd forgotten about this problem since upgrading to my Apple 21-inch monitors, since they don't suffer interference problems. However, here are some suggestions for eliminating interference.
Move the monitors apart until the interference goes away. This is what I did with one set of monitors long ago, and although I didn't like the inch of space between them, it was acceptable. Tonya solves the problem by cocking her monitors so the fronts touch but the backs are several inches apart.
Make sure the interference isn't caused by video or power cables overlapping each other. Geoff had this problem after his kittens redecorated behind his desk.
Set monitors so they run at the same refresh rate, if possible. You can see and choose the rate in the Monitors & Sound control panel; the rate appears as the number listed after the resolution, as in the "67" in "640 x 480, 67 Hz."
Use newer, low-emission monitors, which are generally better shielded than older screens.
Check for sources of emissions nearby. I've noticed problems if AC power adapters are plugged into the same power strip as my monitors.
Place metallic shielding between the monitors. I've heard a couple of suggestions for the metal to use, ranging from steel to tin to lead, but if anyone can offer a definitive explanation and shielding solution, please let me know.
Other Uses for Multiple Monitors -- Probably the most commonly suggested use for a secondary monitor was to store the many palettes used by desktop publishing and graphics applications. Putting those palettes on a cheap 13-inch monitor frees up space on the primary screen, which is often an expensive 21-inch color monitor running at 24-bit color. Victor Gavenda
"It's important that the two monitors are closely matched in color, so when you pick a color from the color palette it looks the same in your image. For this reason I always specify Trinitron monitors and make sure they're set to the same color temperature and gamma. I find it best to pick resolutions for the two monitors that give you the same or nearly the same "pixels per inch" (not necessarily the largest supported resolution); so that type, for example, appears the same size on either monitor. It's easy to check this by choosing a desktop pattern that features an obvious repeating pattern, or by dragging a small window so it straddles the monitors, and see if the edges line up."
Those who work in Macromedia Director also benefit from multiple screens. Max Heim also noted that when he did Director work, he used three monitors: a 20-inch color monitor for the Paint and Cast windows, a 20-inch grayscale monitor for the Score window, and a 13-inch color screen for the Stage.
Web designers chimed in loudly in favor of using multiple monitors so you could write HTML on one screen and preview it on another. Inexpensive monitors running at 640 by 480 are popular, since they provide a least common denominator reality check. Finally, a few mentioned using three monitors for previewing in both Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. Web designers doing double duty as network administrators also found secondary monitors useful for keeping network status windows open.
Programmers also claimed a special need for multiple monitors to keep a debugger open on one screen while an application runs on the other. I'd also encourage programmers to use multiple monitors to make sure their applications behave properly on multiple monitors. Some applications don't zoom properly on a secondary monitor, and I once saw an application that actively prevented you from moving its window to the secondary monitor.
Several folks who use either SoftWindows, Virtual PC, or PC Compatibility cards noted that it's easier to work back and forth between the two operating systems if each has its own monitor. I've certainly found this when controlling my PC via Timbuktu.
Finally, the gaming crowd strongly recommended ParSoft Interactive's A-10 Attack and GSC's F/A-18 Hornet 2.0 - a pair of flight simulators that use multiple monitors for additional views (though reportedly, subsequent versions of F/A-18 Hornet dropped multiple monitor support when the program went cross-platform).
Utilities -- A number of people passed on utilities that they found useful when working with multiple monitor setups. For those not running Mac OS 8, several readers suggested the Secret Finder Features extension, which enables the Command-Delete keyboard shortcut for sending selected files to the Trash, a great time saver when the icons in question are far from the Trash. Similar features are available in the equally unauthorized Hidden Finder Features control panel.
Another popular utility, WestCode's OneClick, can be scripted to reposition windows automatically for poorly behaved applications that don't properly remember window positions. In addition, there's a Load/Save Desktops button for OneClick that can restore Finder icons to a pre-assigned configuration, which is useful if you do anything that confuses the desktop layout. If you're just concerned about Finder windows, Brookline Software's Window Set Manager can be useful for opening and positioning sets of windows for a particular project.
For those who just can't afford a second monitor, Martin Sweitzer recommends Virtual, a $10 shareware utility that provides a larger virtual screen as well as several virtual screens. Virtual might also be useful for those of us who still use SE/30s as servers, since occasionally I run across software that simply requires a larger screen.
PowerBook Users -- Finally, a number of readers wrote that the only reason they weren't upgrading to a new PowerBook was the lack of multiple monitor support. However, at least PowerBook 1400 users have some hope. John W. Fox
Article 3 of 4 in series
The letters surrounding "Double the Fun with Multiple Monitors" and "More on Multiple Monitors" in TidBITS-421 and TidBITS-422 continue to stream inShow full article
The letters surrounding "Double the Fun with Multiple Monitors" and "More on Multiple Monitors" in TidBITS-421 and TidBITS-422 continue to stream in. Several have offered explanations of why two monitors might interfere with one another, plus solutions for interference problems.
First off, a few quick notes. Don Kleinschnitz <email@example.com> wondered how you would recover windows on a second monitor if that monitor were to go bad. The Mac should recognize if the second monitor is disconnected and move windows and icons to the remaining monitor. If it doesn't, zapping the PRAM by holding down Command-Option-P-R at startup should help. Ill-behaved applications may still refuse to show their windows, and for that the best solution may be to record necessary settings, then move that application's settings files to the desktop, forcing the application to build fresh ones.
Marc Schmitt <firstname.lastname@example.org> noted that Village Tronic markets the MacPicasso 523 video card, a 2 MB PCI-based video card with a VGA connector for about $100 in the U.S. [A predecessor to this card was a user favorite in last year's TidBITS Holiday Gifts issue; the U.S. distributor is Software Hut (see "Rare MacPicasso Unearthed" in TidBITS-409). -Tonya]
Steven Kan <email@example.com> passed on the URL to his experiences with multiple monitors, which show graphically some of the concepts I've written about in the previous articles.
Finally, Joe Mithiran <firstname.lastname@example.org> mentioned another virtual desktop utility for the Mac, called Virtual Desktop, that's part of Ross Brown's AWOL Utilities. It's been updated recently for Mac OS 8 and is worth a look if you want to simulate a large screen.
Victor Guess <email@example.com>, who worked for a number of years as an electrical design engineer in the television industry, explained the problem with monitor interference:
The interference between monitors is caused by low frequency magnetic fields generated by the yoke coils that surround the neck of the tube. These scan the electron beam horizontally and vertically across the phosphor-coated screen. These fields are best shielded by iron or steel and the more of it the better. Try putting a thick piece of steel between the monitors. Certain steels are specially designed for magnetic shielding, and they require considerably less steel than other alloys. (Stainless steel is about the worst!) Most monitors have some built-in shielding and some newer ones have a lot more. Internal shielding is far more effective than external. Obviously external shielding isn't too practical and it's best to purchase well-shielded monitors.
Magnetic shielding affects both the radiated magnetic fields (a feature often mentioned in the monitor specifications) and also the susceptibility of the monitor to magnetic fields (a problem which is rarely, if ever, mentioned by monitor manufacturers). For instance, the image on my Apple 1705 wiggles a bit whenever the ceiling cable heat is active in the room downstairs.
Greg Staten <firstname.lastname@example.org> passes on advice for shielding monitors:
The best product for magnetic shielding is known as Mumetal. It's what we recommend at Avid for those having interference problems between their computer monitors (shielded) and their NTSC monitors (generally unshielded). Call Magnetic Shield Corporation at 708/766-7800 and ask for their magnetic shielding catalog. They also sell a lab kit with Mumetal and steel sheets/foils for $129 that includes a magnetic field probe (only $79 without the probe).
[Though Greg had never heard of them, I found two other companies that also appear to sell magnetic shielding products: AD-Vance Magnetics and MuShield. Victor Guess also commented that bending Mumetal can hurt its effectiveness unless it's re-annealed (heat treated) afterwards. -Adam]
Jay Nelson <email@example.com> offers a pricier solution:
I've been using NoRad's JitterBox ($395 to $595) for several years, at first because my monitor was backed up against a wall at the same place where, outside, all the power for the building came in. The monitor swam constantly. When I installed NoRad's JitterBox (which fits around the outside of the monitor), the swimming stopped.
Jon Pugh <firstname.lastname@example.org> passes on the historical story of multiple monitor support:
The Mac II and System 5 first supported multiple monitors (as documented in Inside Macintosh IV). Multiple monitor support was originally done with the Mac Plus, but only with special hardware and software from Radius (QuickDraw hacks written by Andy Hertzfeld). That monitor was the first full-page display - the portrait unit that was roughly the same size as the Plus itself. Apple later rolled multiple monitor support into Color QuickDraw, so only machines with Color QuickDraw support multiple monitors via the system software now, which includes the Mac II and up, but no 68000-based Macs.
Eric Baumgartner <email@example.com> comments that he hasn't seen any research about the productivity boost from multiple monitors:
While I agree with your argument, it's interesting to note that, as far as I can tell, there isn't a lot of research that links increased screen real estate with productivity. A few weeks ago, a friend asked for pointers to this kind of research because a large medical center where he works is proposing a massive upgrade of its computer infrastructure. The proposal is to purchase about 3,000 new machines, which may be Dells with 14-inch monitors.
Upgrading these machines to 15-inch to 17-inch monitors will incur a significant cost. But what's the cost of thousands of folks chugging around a smaller screen every day? A cursory search of human factors research didn't turn up anything that addressed this issue. As someone pointed out on <comp.human-factors>, you would think that if such research existed, monitor manufacturers would be all over it.
One way to get those bigger monitors without increasing overall cost is to buy slower, low-end machines. This raises an interesting question: for your typical user (i.e. the bulk of those 3,000 users), what makes a bigger difference - 50 percent more screen space, or a 50 percent faster processor? And if it's the former, how do we convince CFOs?
Ralph Lord <firstname.lastname@example.org> offers some thoughts on why multiple monitors increase productivity:
I found your recent article on using two monitors interesting and thought you might be interested in some information that explains in a more basic way why using more monitors increases productivity. It's a simple case of information density. If you haven't yet seen the books by Edward R. Tufte on displaying information, you must rush out and get them. In "Envisioning Information," on page 49, he writes:
"Nearly all micro/macro designs of this chapter have portrayed large quantities of data at high densities, up to thousands of bits per square centimeter and 20 million bits per page, pushing the limits of printing technology. Such quantities are thoroughly familiar, although hardly noticed: the human eye registers 150 million bits, the 35 mm slide some 25 million bits, conventional large-scale topographic maps up to 150 million bits, the color screen of a small personal computer 8 million bits."
No wonder then that you feel that more pixels is better, it is! We can obviously register more information than our screens are capable of showing and according to Tufte, a computer screen is one of the least dense information displays we deal with. One might reason that what we need is not faster processors, but screens with much higher resolution and greater size.
Ian Blanton <email@example.com> offers consolation for those who fear Windows NT catching up too quickly:
Windows NT does support multiple monitors. The head of our PC support group and the Mail Admin (both sharp guys), tried to set up a Pentium with multiple monitors after seeing my triple monitor setup. I won't bore you with the labours that they went through, but four hours after they started, they got it running. Unfortunately, NT treated the larger desktop as one giant monitor, with the result that status messages, etc., all popped up in the "center" of the screen, between the two monitors. They took out the video cards and gave up.
Article 4 of 4 in series
If the Mac's support for multiple monitors weren't one of my favorite bragging points, I'd have stopped these notes long ago. However, useful information continues to trickle in, much of it on TidBITS Talk, and it's of sufficient interest to pass on here as well. First, Tarik Sivonen comments that an article by Chris O'Malley in PC Computing's May 1998 issue reviews 17-inch and 19-inch monitors, and more importantly, includes the results of usability testing and return-on-investment analysisShow full article
If the Mac's support for multiple monitors weren't one of my favorite bragging points, I'd have stopped these notes long ago. However, useful information continues to trickle in, much of it on TidBITS Talk, and it's of sufficient interest to pass on here as well.
First, Tarik Sivonen <firstname.lastname@example.org> comments that an article by Chris O'Malley in PC Computing's May 1998 issue reviews 17-inch and 19-inch monitors, and more importantly, includes the results of usability testing and return-on-investment analysis. The conclusion? In comparison with a 15-inch monitor, a 19-inch monitor can pay for itself within two months. Overall productivity gains in spreadsheet tasks, word processing, and Web browsing increased between about 12 percent and 27 percent for users of 19-inch monitors (again, as compared to those using 15-inch monitors). 17-inch monitors were almost as good for word processing and Web browsing, though not as good for spreadsheet work.
Second, readers submitted additional ways of recovering windows and dialog boxes you can't see after disconnecting a second monitor.
If your Mac supports duplicate monitors (video mirroring), you may be able to recover windows by dragging one onto the other in the Monitors & Sound control panel. Not all desktop Macs have this feature.
Install the $10 shareware control panel DragAnyWindow (a 111K download) from the prolific Alessandro Levi Montalcini. DragAnyWindow enables you to move any window, including dialogs, alerts, game windows, and windows that have disappeared. DragAnyWindow would also be useful for older Macs with 9-inch screens when dealing with overly large dialogs.
Install the $10 shareware program Virtual. When you quit Virtual, it moves all open windows onto the main screen. Virtual is a 329K download.
Use Ross Brown's freeware Virtual Desktop 1.9.2, which, upon launch, adjusts its scroll bars so you can scroll to any existing window or desktop icon. Virtual Desktop is a 217K download
Finally, if you've removed only the monitor, also try removing the video card, since sometimes the Mac will see a monitor if the card is still installed.