Working with Dual Monitors

One of the many huge oversights of Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 is their complete lack of control when it comes to having multiple displays. They can turn on that second or third monitor, but you can’t do simple things like set different wallpapers for each monitor, nor can the taskbar be stretched so you’re not forced to have all your apps sitting in the taskbar of the primary monitor. Once again, it’s 2010 and this is just plain stupid.

I’ve been working with two different apps to control this problem since I find it horrifically annoying to not have a taskbar on the second monitor, forcing me to roll the mouse all the way back to the primary just to open an app.

Two apps that I like are Ultramon by RealtimeSoft and DisplayFusion by BinaryFortress. In many ways they’re similar, expect when it comes to price. Ultramon is $40, while DisplayFusion is only $25.

But how do they work?

Basically they each allow you to add a taskbar for each monitor. Additionally, you can set a different wallpaper for each screen. As another must have, they add a button in the titlebar that lets you move the application window to another monitor without having to change the window size and drag. Again, these are all functions that should have been included in Windows 7 at the very least.

So how do they compare?

Ultramon was the first app I started working with, and it works very well, but it’s development cycle seems a little less than predictable. It’s a simple install and let’s you change the wallpaper and move apps between monitors with ease. If you have more than two monitors it allows you to choose the destination from a right click on the Taskbar. It’s very good, the but the price is rather high for the feature set that you get.

DisplayFusion supports adding more buttons to the title bar to move windows around. It also has more options when it comes to wallpaper, such as randomizing and rotating images. It can also load images from Flickr.

There is really only one thing I don’t like about DisplayFusion, I use Windowblinds which many times will change the size of the min, max and close buttons. There is no way to move the title bar buttons over so they don’t overlap the Windows buttons. Ultramon does have this feature.

When all is said and done it comes down to price. Ultramon is just too expensive. It works well and should give you everything you need, but you can get that same power for almost half price in DisplayFusion.

Since Windows doesn’t provide this functionality at least you have two decent alternatives.

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