The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Would you like to double the size of your computer's screen? There is a simple method of doing that: add a second monitor. It is surprisingly easy and cheap to do so. In fact, right now I have two monitors on the computer I am using to write this article. Here is a picture of my computer and screens:
(Click on the above image to see a larger picture.)
Did you recently purchase a new, large monitor? If so, is your older, smaller monitor gathering dust? Put it to use! The process I will describe works with almost any monitor, large or small. The two (or three or four) monitors do not need to be the same size. You can use the old and the new monitor simultaneously on one computer.
In my case, I found that one laptop computer is all I need. Today's laptops are more powerful than the desktop systems of just a few years ago. I use my laptop about 95% of the time, both at home and when traveling. However, I did find the small screen on my tiny laptop is a bit of an eyestrain. That's OK when I am traveling as I don't want to carry a huge laptop with a big screen. I'll gladly suffer with the small screen for a few days when traveling. However, I'd like something larger for use at home.
A few years ago I would have purchased a desktop computer with a larger screen. Of course, that's expensive, plus I would then run into a variety of issues about keeping my data files in sync on both systems, making sure I had the same programs installed on both systems and more. Instead, I decided to keep the laptop as my primary system but to add a large display screen for use at home. Along the way I added an external keyboard and a mouse. Then, for good measure, I added a second monitor! I now have two 27-inch monitors installed side-by-side, dwarfing the tiny laptop that sits beside and behind them in the above picture. (The Mac laptop is sitting on edge to the left of the leftmost monitor. The laptop is inserted into a BookArc stand made for Macintosh laptops. If you use a Mac laptop, you might want to look at BookArc desktop stands at http://goo.gl/k5CWf7.)
The total expense for all this? Much less than the purchase price of a new desktop computer and one or two 27-inch monitors! Best of all, when I go on a trip, I simply disconnect the cables and take the laptop with me. I always have all my programs, all the documents, and the latest email messages with me.
NOTE: If you look at the above picture, you may notice a small screen on the right. It is an old, original iPad 1. I can surf the web with it and do anything else an iPad can do. However, I use it mostly to watch television while using the computer. I often have CNN or a local news program running on the iPad while performing other tasks on the computer.
The telephone on the left is a cordless phone connected to Google Voice. (I'll be changing that to another Internet telephone provider in a few months as Google is reducing the functionality of Google Voice. See http://blog.obihai.com/2013/10/important-message-about-google-voice.html for details. Luckily, there are many good, low-cost Internet telephone services to choose from.)
I often have my email program, a web browser, iTunes, and an RSS newsreader displayed on the monitor to the left side of my desk while my word processor and my favorite genealogy programs are running in separate windows on the monitor to the right. In the web browser on the left screen, I am presently watching an item on eBay where I have a bid. The screen updates itself every few seconds to show the latest bid as eBay counts down to the end of the auction a few minutes from now. I also have my email program running in another window on this screen so that I can see new messages as soon as they arrive. Another window on the left screen shows the song titles and artists I am listening to as the music plays from my stereo system's speakers. I selected the tunes from the menus in iTunes.
I can even create a really large Excel spreadsheet that spans both screens, showing hundreds of "cells" simultaneously. That is usually an eye-popping demonstration as many people don't realize that this is possible.
And just wait until you see Flight Simulator on this system! Here's a hint: Flight Simulator is designed to run on multiple screens.
Of course, I can move the windows around any time I like. It is easy to click-and-drag a window from one monitor to another as though the two were one very wide screen. Having a lot of "screen real estate" makes it easy to keep an eye on multiple processes.
I also run Parallels on this Mac, so I installed Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux as well. It is easy to run the Macintosh OS X operating system on one monitor and Windows 7 and/or Linux on the other. I find it easy to share the one keyboard and one mouse simultaneously with multiple operating systems.
Anyone not familiar with my installation who happened to walk by and see me working might think at first that I had two separate computers running with two separate screens. However, a closer inspection shows that I have only one computer, one keyboard, and one mouse. along with two monitors. Having only one computer saves a lot of money compared to purchasing two computers. It provides a lot of convenience as well.
You can easily do the same with almost any Windows or Macintosh computer or even a laptop.
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