Configure Multiple Monitor Display in Windows XP

Windows XP Professional supports using multiple displays simultaneously, which means that you can attach more than one monitor to your computer and have your desktop spread across all attached monitors, as shown in below picture. Windows XP Professional supports the extension of your display across a maximum of 10 monitors.

Note : You must use Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) or Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) video adapters when configuring multiple displays.

If one of the display adapters is built into the motherboard, note these additional considerations:

■ The motherboard adapter always becomes the secondary adapter. It must be multiple-display compatible.

■ You must set up Windows XP Professional before installing another adapter. Windows XP Professional Setup disables the motherboard adapter if it detects another adapter. Some systems completely disable the onboard adapter on detecting an add-in adapter. If you are unable to override this detection in the BIOS, you cannot use the motherboard adapter with multiple displays.

Typically, the system BIOS selects the primary display based on PCI slot order. However, on some computers, the BIOS allows the user to select the primary display device.

You cannot stop the primary display (in other words, there will always be a primary display, although you can switch the monitor that is the primary display). This caveat is an important consideration for laptop computers with docking stations.

For example, some docking stations contain a display adapter; they often disable, or turn off, a laptop’s built-in display. Multiple display support does not function on these configurations unless you attach multiple adapters to the docking station.

How to Install Multiple Monitors ?

Before you can configure multiple displays, you must install them. When you configure multiple displays, you must configure each one in a multiple-display environment. To install multiple monitors, complete the following steps:

1. Turn off your computer and insert one or more additional PCI or AGP video adapters into available slots on your computer.

2. Plug an additional monitor into each PCI or AGP video adapter that you installed.

3. Turn on your computer and allow Windows XP Professional to detect the new adapters and install the appropriate device drivers.

4. In Control Panel, click Appearance And Themes, and then click Display.

5. In the Settings tab, click the monitor icon that represents the monitor you want to use in addition to your primary monitor. Click Identify if you are not sure which monitor corresponds to which display.

6. Select the Extend My Windows Desktop Onto This Monitor check box and then click OK.

To configure your display in a multiple-display environment, complete the following steps:

1. In Control Panel, click Appearance And Themes, and then click Display.

2. In the Display Properties dialog box, click the Settings tab.

3. Click the monitor icon for the primary display device.

4. Select the color depth and resolution.

5. Click the monitor icon for the secondary display device.

6. Select the Extend My Windows Desktop Onto This Monitor check box.

7. Select the color depth and resolution for the secondary display.

8. Repeat Steps 5 through 7 for each additional display.

Windows XP Professional uses the virtual desktop concept to determine the relationship of each display. The virtual desktop uses coordinates to track the position of each individual display desktop. The coordinates of the top-left corner of the primary display always remain 0, 0. Windows XP Professional sets secondary display coordinates so that all the displays adjoin each other on the virtual desktop, which allows the system to maintain the illusion of a single large desktop in which users can cross from one monitor to another without losing track of the mouse.

To change the display positions on the virtual desktop, in the Settings tab click Identify and drag the display representations to the desired position. The positions of the icons dictate the coordinates and the relative positions of the displays to one another.

Using Multiple Displays

Using multiple displays is a great way to increase your desktop space (although it can quickly consume the space on your actual desk). Many video adapter manufacturers have adapters that already have ports for more than one monitor—an easy way to set up a multiple-display configuration. Some of these adapters come with extra software to help manage the displays that provides features like controlling the particular display on which applications appear, limiting the appearance of dialog boxes to the display on which the parent application is shown, using separate screen savers for each display, and so on.

When you are purchasing extra monitors, you should try to use monitors that are roughly the same size and set them to use the same resolution. The reason for this decision is that when you arrange your displays on the Settings tab, the location of the monitor icons accurately predicts what happens when you move your mouse pointer between displays. For example, assume that you have two displays side by side. One of the displays is a 19-inch monitor and one is a 15-inch monitor. You can arrange these displays on the Settings tab so that either the tops or the bottoms of the displays are aligned. If the tops were aligned, whenever you move your mouse pointer from the bottom of the bigger display toward the second display, the pointer would get “stuck.” To get the pointer over to the smaller display, you would have to move the pointer upward to the point where the bottom of the smaller display was. Although it seems as if it might not be a big deal, losing track of your mouse pointer because of this arrangement is a common complaint among multiple-display users.

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