Monday, 9 February 2009

Multiple Monitors

My MacBook supports two monitors (showing different things) via its external monitor socket. From my unused office PC I do have a spare screen, and have occasionally used it as a second monitor, but I didn't really think it was all that useful.

One reason for this is that Mac programs have a central menubar at the top of the screen, unlike Windows and other OSes which attach menubars to the respective application windows. It's somewhat of a pain to have to move the mouse to the main screen for a menu item, when your application is actually 30cm to the right.

However, my Heureka-moment came when I tried putting the external screen above my laptop. Now, instead of landscape I work in portrait mode. Much better, as I find it easier to glance up and down as opposed to sideways, especially if the monitors have slightly different resolutions. And the menubar? It's now in the middle of the workplace. Easy to reach from wherever I have the mouse, even though it's not supposed to be the optimum according to some law of UI, which suggests that the edge of the screen was best, as it is easiest to reach with the mouse–no overshooting possible!

I feel much more productive, and was supported in this feeling when watching Randy Pausch's lecture on time management (available for free on iTunesU): he advocated using three monitors (like he did), or at least two. Working on two screens is more like working at a desk, one screen is like the little fold-down table in a plane. And especially when doing stuff with the browser I find it useful, as the browser usually fills the whole screen, and leaves no space for other applications (such as text editors) to work with.

How many screens have you got?


  1. At home, just the one. Per computer, that is. Everyone says the multiple monitor setup is wonderful, and I believe them; the thing is, I like to work at the laptop sitting on the sofa, and not even my beautiful Mac cinema display screen will drag me away from it. People are strange...

  2. Hmmmm, yes my son is also a fan of multi monitors but one is more than enough for me thank you very much!!!
    What's the teaching timetable Ol? Are you just showing off or have you put it here because it is useful?

  3. I was checking what kind of gadgets were available, and that one actually looked useful. It's one of my google calendars that I've made public, so everybody can see when I'm busy. Of course they can't see all the other things on my other calendars!