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4.1. Using multiple monitors

You're not limited to just two monitors; Windows 2000 supports up to ten. Because each monitor requires its own adapter, however, it's unlikely you'll be using more than two or three (though some adapters do support multiple outputs). Plus, except in rare circumstances, two or three is plenty.

But why use multiple monitors in the first place? The main reason is to gain more desktop space. Programming, web site development, data analysis, desktop publishing, financial analysis, and even working with large spreadsheets are prime situations for using multiple monitors. You might even use multiple monitors in a word processing task to view one reference document while working on another. And for those few games that support it, multiple monitors offer a nice advantage over single-monitor systems.

Each adapter must be either AGP or PCI. The adapters don't have to be the same model or even manufacturer. The computer's BIOS detects the adapters according to their slot order, or in some systems, based on a BIOS setting that enables you to specify the default VGA device. One adapter serves as the primary display, where the logon dialog appears and where most applications will open by default. Some BIOS will let only the AGP card be the primary display; others are configurable.

Setting up the displays in Windows 2000 is relatively easy. All configuration happens through the Display Control Panel object. Each adapter can have different resolution and color depth settings, and you have full control over the arrangement of the desktop on the monitors.

4.1.1. Add and configure multiple monitors

The first task, even before you install additional adapters, is to make sure the adapters are compatible with Windows 2000. Check the adapters' documentation to make sure, or check the manufacturer's web site for the latest Windows 2000 drivers. When you have everything you need, follow these steps to add and configure the additional adapter(s):

  1. Shut down the system and install the new adapter(s).

  2. Restart the system. Windows 2000 should automatically detect the new hardware and install the necessary drivers or prompt you to provide the driver disk. If it doesn't detect the new hardware, run the Add/Remove Hardware wizard in the Control Panel to install the adapters.

  3. Open the Display object in the Control Panel or right-click the desktop and choose Properties to open the Display properties.

  4. Click one of the numbered display icons or select an adapter from the Display list.

  5. Adjust the settings for the selected adapter based on the following list:


    Select the display adapter whose properties you want to change.


    Select the color depth for the selected adapter.

    Screen Area

    Specify the screen height and width (resolution) for the selected adapter.

    Use this device as the primary monitor

    Show the logon dialog box, desktop icons, and taskbar on the selected display.


    Briefly show the monitor number on the display to help you identify it.

    Extend my Windows desktop onto this monitor

    Enable the selected display and include the desktop on it.

  6. Repeat step 5 for the other adapters.

  7. Click and drag the numbered monitor icons to arrange the displays according to your physical monitor layout.

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