When a single monitor just isn't enough for your workflow, you'll need to look at adding a second to increase the amount of real estate available at any given time. We'll be taking a look at how you can set up and configure multiple displays in Windows 10. Thankfully, Microsoft has done a solid job in implementing multiple display support right into Windows so we don't have to install third-party software to fiddle around with settings and whatnot.
Before we get started, you'll need to make sure that all necessary cables are connected to your displays. This includes power, audio and any VGA, DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort cables. Be sure to hit up your display manual if you're confused with which port is which and where cables are connected to. Once both screens are plugged in and ready to go, fire up Windows 10 as we'll need to change a few settings and make sure everything is working as intended.
- Switch between display modes
- Configuring display settings
- Hide the taskbar on displays
- Change out wallpapers
Microsoft improved how Windows 10 handles the desktop experience, which now has the taskbar on both screens with full Windows menu integration. Should you be a fan of task view, this feature also works on both screens for a quick glance as to what windows are presence on each display.
Switch display modes
There are four display modes available in Windows 10, which can be quickly accessed by hitting Windows + P. This will bring up a sidebar with four options. Depending on whether you're on a laptop or desktop PC, either extend or duplicate will be selected by default. Here's a quick run down on the differences between each option:
- PC screen only — Only the primary monitor is used.
- Duplicate — Secondary monitor shows duplicate desktop.
- Extend — Both monitors combine to offer an extended desktop.
- Second screen only — Only the secondary monitor is used.
Customizing displays and how they are managed by Windows is real easy. We'll need to gain access to the display section of the control panel.
- Right-click anywhere on the desktop and choose "Display settings".
Choose "identify" to show numbers on corresponding displays. (1 is primary.)
- Re-arrange displays by clicking and dragging the numbered boxes.
- Use the scaling slider to make text and other content larger. (Ideal for higher resolutions or impaired vision.)
Choose between landscape or portrait to change the selected display orientation.
- "Multiple displays" allows you to switch display modes (as described in the section above).
This section of Display settings will enable you to not only play around with display ordering, multiple display profiles and more, but also change various options that aren't available in the main view. Here's how you can use these advanced settings to alter more technical options.
Optional: Select "Color management" to open up the corresponding window for editing ICC profiles.
We only recommend you tweak International Color Consortium (ICC) profiles if you've researched a little and have a rough idea as to what to do. Generally, you should be fine with Windows calibration and altering monitor settings.
- Choose "Color calibration" to fire up the Windows calibration wizard.
- Follow the wizard to calibrate brightness, gamma, colors and contrast.
- Follow the links under "Related settings" for further configuration:
- ClearType text — Change settings for the font smoothing technology used in Windows.
- Advanced sizing — Alter the size of title bars and more.
- Display adapter properties — Check the properties of your connected graphics card.
Hide taskbar on displays
If you don't like all apps and even a second taskbar, Windows 10 makes it painless to make some changes.
- Right-click the taskbar.
- Choose "Settings".
- Scroll down to "Multiple Displays."
- Toggle "show taskbar on all displays."
Two further options can help you define just what is displayed on the taskbars. The former lets you configure where taskbar app icons are shown, depending on which monitor they're presently using. Choosing "all taskbars" will show all pinned and open apps on both taskbars. The combining labels option lets you choose whether or not Windows will show window titles next to open apps on additional monitor taskbars.
With a second monitor connected, it's possible to have a little more fun with wallpapers and really personalize your desktop experience. We'll have a quick look how you can configure everything so a folder full of images are randomly shuffled as desktop wallpapers, with a different image on each screen.
- Right-click the desktop.
- Select "Slideshow" from the background drop-down menu.
- Hit "Browse" under "Choose albums for your slideshow."
- Change "30 minutes" to however often you wish a new image to be selected.
- Ensure "Choose a fit" is selected as "Fill".
Windows 10 will now randomly select a new image every 30 minutes from the folder you selected, displaying a different image on all connected monitors. If you'd prefer to stick with one image for your wallpaper and have one with sufficient resolution to cover connected monitors, switching "Fill" to "Span" in step 7 will have the same image span across all desktops.