ForumsTime ManagementYour thoughts/exp using dual displays for text oriented tasks

Your thoughts/exp using dual displays for text oriented tasks
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Posted: Oct 21, 2009
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I expect to re-think my computer and work environment after 4 years and have read a few of the "papers" on productivity and dual displays. These tend to be anecdotal and ?aire type soft research, yet the idea intrigues me as the cost of LCDs has dropped considerably. My inclination is toward 2 19" LCDs as opposed to a single wide panel.

For work and personally I do some similar tasks:
1) Web research with cut/paste of relevant information into a word.doc file
2) Comparison of the entry of product titles across several application files where the entry typically had been done independently and not by cut/paste e.g. comparing spreadsheet with both word doc and Indesign file.
3) Comparing content and/or pricing/features of a product on several web pages

I am familiar with but would NOT be using this potential setup for working in Photoshop and having the palettes on one screen and the actual work on another screen; OR having two edited versions of the same photo on two identically calibrated side by side screens.

So I wonder about your experience:
1) What kinds of things do you do and does it seem to improve your productivity? Is it simply a matter of time saving (less keystrokes as you are not moving amongst open windows as frequently), or is there also a boost to productivity as it is simply more energizing to work with more things open simultaneously and in view?
2) Are there drawbacks to this (aside from the extra cost)?
3) Ergonomics: Do you find a difference in eye strain, or neck/shoulder problems as I expect that there is greater head/neck movement to look from one display to the other?

I imagine that I will mock up the situation and do some experimentation myself, but knowing what others have experienced will give me additional ideas of how to experiment and what to observe in my own behavior. Given the estimated boosts in productivity of 15 to 35% the additional cost of $200 for a second 19" LCD panel is not much. Even a time savings of 3 minutes per day is 12.5 hours a year so the pay back might be quite quick.

FYI: This website ( sells an interesting multi display management software that seems to allow some good optimizing of a multi display approach so that you can repeat the "layout" that you like for certain tasks and apps very easily.

Posted: Oct 22, 2009
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I switched this year to 24" displays at both work and home, and I am very happy. The larger screen makes it much easier in working on manuscripts where I am looking at a pdf, a text editor, and perhaps another window (web, graph, mathematica). The larger screen is also good for seeing calendar in one window and task list in another. I don't know if I would be as happy with two smaller screens, as this seems to me to be more suitable for monitoring one thing while doing another.
Vin Thomas

Posted: Oct 22, 2009
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I used to use dual 19" monitors, but have recently switched to a single 23" monitor. I use it in conjunction with Spaces (for mac) which is a nice desktop manager. It's basically like having dual (or more) monitors, that you can manage with easy keyboard shortcuts.

If you're on windows there are plenty of alternatives:

I don't think having dual monitors saved me any time over this setup.

Posted: Oct 22, 2009
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As usual forum comments are wonderful - thanks to both of you for sharing and for links (I use PC). Think I will take the time to setup some different environments at work (dual display versus one larger screen) and get some direct experience.

Posted: Oct 22, 2009
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I have been using Dual LCD's for a long time and would never go back to a single screen.

I currently have 2 19" LCD's and prefer them over one larger Wide Screen LCD.

I can give many examples of productivity gains.

1. The ability to have a document open on one screen while entering data in a spreadsheet on the other is a good one.
2. Responding to an email on one screen while viewing the data on the other.
3. Working on a 3D Model/Design on one screen while referencing the original design on the other.
4. Having Toodledo open on one screen while actively getting the task done on the other.
5. Coding a website on one screen while having the output on the other.
6. Designing something in Photoshop while having a tutorial open on my browser on the other.

I can list hundreds.

I don't think anyone who has seen the benefits of Dual Screens would disagree with the productivity gains. My next setup will be 2 24" LCD's.

My ultimate goal is this:


Posted: Nov 15, 2009
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I recently went to a wide display (24") and my productivity definitely increased. I run everything un-maximized so I can see other windows or the desktop for dragging/dropping etc. A good way to work!

Posted: Dec 22, 2009
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At work I have a 24" dual with a 19". Works for me. Det 19" is mostly used for email, toodledo, calendar. Sometimes while working in excel and db cubes I use the 19" for excel. I'm not sure if 2*24" will boost my productivity...maybe too much space.

The most essential when buying 24" inch is to get the best resolution. Do not fall for 1080 setup. Get at last 1600 * 1200.

Posted: Jan 10, 2010
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Going dual monitor is possibly one of the best things you can do, although a few people don't adapt well and don't make use of the second monitor (kind of tunnel vision or something).

I've been using dual 24" Dell monitors for about three years now, and could never go back. Up until about a month ago I had them side by side in landscape mode (3840x1200), and have always loved that setup.

More recently though, I decided to try out leaving the right hand monitor in portrait mode permanently and am amazed I never did this before. Suddenly large web pages don't need to be scrolled so much, or I can leave multiple windows there and still have them within the field of view when looking at the primary screen. Anyone who uses spreadsheets will immediately fall in love, but anyone who uses a computer for anything more than the very basics will quickly come to appreciate the utility of a second monitor and especially the landscape/portrait combo.

As for ergonomics, I have never had a problem. Even with the two in landscape, it was more that I would focus on something on one, then something on the other. With the new setup, I can see stuff on the secondary monitor by moving just my eyes, and only need the slightest turn of the head to be able to fully focus.

In short, yes do it.

Posted: Jan 15, 2010
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Thanks for the continued comments, helpful. I have not made the leap yet, but it seems that this is nearly a no-brainer when it comes to productivity.
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