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How to Setup Multiple Monitors in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 on Dell Systems

Summary: How to Setup Multiple Monitors in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 on Dell Systems

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Article Content


Table of Contents:

  1. Setup Multiple Monitors
  2. Key Feature Enhancements of Dual Monitor Usage
  3. Connect a Monitor
  4. Setting Display Styles for Multiple Monitor
  5. Instructions to setup dual monitor in Win7 Win Vista, or Win XP

This article provides information on "Multiple Monitor Setup in Windows 8".

Setup Multiple Monitors

There have been several changes introduced that will provide a much better experience for users that have computers with
multiple monitors attached.

You can get started with multiple monitors either from the Windows UI or Desktop interface.

For Windows UI:

  1. Invoke Windows Charms by swiping in from the right or moving the mouse cursor to one of the right-hand side corners
  2. Choose Devices,
  3. Select Second Screen.
  4. There are four options: PC screen only, Duplicate, Extend, and Second screen only. Select the best option for you.

These options will let you configure the screens as follows:
PC screen only - The second screen is ignored and only the PC's primary display is used.
Duplicate - The second screen mirrors, the primary display.
Extend - The PC display is extended across the two screens and allows you to have a desktop that spans two screens or
to use Windows UI on one screen and the desktop on the other.
Second screen only - The main PC display will be disabled and only the secondary screen is used.

For traditional Desktop mode:

  1. Go to the Control Panel and choose Display.
  2. Choose Change Display Settings on the left.
  3. In the Change Display Settings window, click and drag the virtual monitors to mimic your physical setup.
  4. Click OK to finish.

Key Feature Enhancements of Dual Monitor Usage

  1. Corners and edges are active on all monitors
    • Navigating with the corners of the screen with a mouse or with the edges of a screen with touch is part of the core navigation experience for Windows 8. It is important to support these corners and edges the right way on a PC with multiple monitors. Windows 8 does this by making the corners and edges of all attached displays active.
    • There is no concept of a single main monitor when it comes to the Windows UI and apps. The monitor that you access one of the corners on will be the monitor where that interface will display.

    Accessing the Start Screen or previous app from the left corners will always open the UI on the display you accessed the corners from.
    This applies to the Charms Bar as well.

  2. Easily move Windows UI apps to another monitor
    • You can easily move Windows UI apps to another monitor by grabbing it along the top edge and dragging it from one monitor to another. If the app is snapped, it will be snapped on the other monitor as well.
    • You can also move Windows UI apps from one monitor to another using the keyboard shortcuts Win+Pg Up and Win+Pg Dn
    SLN129279_en_US__1icon Note: Windows UI apps can only be displayed on one monitor at a time.
  3. Navigation along shared edges is improved
    • On a PC with multiple monitors, one or more of the screen edges are likely to be shared. For example, two monitors sitting next to each other (where each has the same screen resolution) would share both the top and bottom edge of the screen. Because corners are so important for navigation in Windows 8, we need to be able to easily target each corner, but this is difficult when you can't just throw your mouse in any corner like you can on a single monitor system.
    • To address this we have created real corners along shared edges, so that if you are targeting the corner, once you get there Windows won't allow you to overshoot the corner accidentally. It does this by extending the corner along shared edges so if you are moving along the edge and hit the corner (within 6 pixels) the mouse will stop. You can think of it like a 6 pixel wall extending from the shared corner
  4. Taskbars are now shown on all monitors by default
    • With multiple monitors attached, Windows 8 will draw the taskbar across each monitor. By default, all taskbar icons are displayed on the main monitor, and the taskbar on all other monitors
    • The Taskbar is configurable in multiple displays using Taskbar Properties.
      1. To configure, follow the steps below:
      2. Right Click on the Taskbar
      3. Select Properties
      4. In Taskbar Tab, under Multiple Displays, make sure the Show Taskbar on all Displays check box is selected
      5. Then tap or click OK
    • You can use the options control which taskbar icons are displayed on which monitor: All icons on all monitors, All icons on main taskbar and taskbars on other displays will only show icons on the display where the app is running, or only on the taskbar where the 789app is running.
  5. Set a different background for each monitor
    • You can now set different background for each monitor. When selecting a personalization theme, Windows 8 automatically puts a different desktop background on each monitor. You can even set a slide show to cycle through pictures across all monitors, or pick specific background pictures for each monitor.
    • When you right-click an image in the Personalization Control Panel, you will see an option to control which monitors the background will appear on.
  6. Multi-monitor slide show
    • It is very typical for people to have a multi-monitor setup that consists of different sized and/or oriented monitors. And of course, not all photos look great in both portrait and landscape or on all screen sizes and resolutions. To address this, we've added logic to the slide show that selects the best suited images for each monitor.
  7. Span desktop background across all monitors
    • You can now span a single panoramic picture across multiple monitors. We are also including a new panoramic theme in the personalization options for Windows 8.
    • To set this up, pick a panoramic desktop image and select Span as the picture position.

Connect a Monitor

Connect the monitor cord(s) from the monitor(s) to the laptop or desktop.

Table 1: Video Connections

Display Port

Display Port is a new digital standard for connecting monitors to computers and has the capability to provide a scalable digital display interface with optional audio and high-definition content protection (HDCP) capability. Display Ports usually resemble USB Ports with one side angled.
A Display Port cable should be used if Display Port connectors are available on both the computer and the monitor.


Digital Video Interface (DVI) is the digital standard for connecting monitors to computers. DVI connections are usually color-coded with white plastic and labels.
DVI cables provide a higher quality signal than VGA cables. A DVI cable should be used if DVI connectors are available on both the computer and the monitor.


Video Graphics Array (VGA) is the analog standard for connecting monitors to computers. VGA connections are commonly color-coded with blue plastic and labels.
A VGA cable should be used if DVI connectors are not available on either the monitor or the computer.


High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is the current digital standard for connecting all kinds of video devices.
HDMI cables provide the same quality of video signal as DVI. However HDMI can provide sound through the cable but the Video Card has to support the Audio through HDMI function in order for it to work.
SLN129279_en_US__1icon Note: A connector type such as DVI or VGA may require a cable adapter, or dongle, to connect to multiple monitors

Setting Display Styles for Multiple Monitor

  • Duplicate These Displays: Duplicate the same screen on two monitors with the same resolution chosen based on the monitor with a lower resolution.
  • Extend These Displays: This option is recommended when an external monitor is connected to a laptop,and each monitor can display different screen independently to improve user convenience. The relative position of the screens can be set up here, for example monitor 1 may be set up to be to the left of monitor 2 or vice versa.
    This depends on the physical position of the LCD monitor in relation to the laptop. The horizontal line displayed on both monitors can be based on the laptop or external monitor. These are all adjustable options, and all a user need do is drag the monitor of the main screen to the extended monitor.
  • Show Desktop Only On: Display the status of a particular monitor. This option is typically chosen when the laptop is used as a PC so the user can enjoy a large external monitor. Most current laptops support mainstream resolutions.

Set up Windows 8 dual-monitor panorama theme

1、We need to go to Microsoft's official website to download special panoramic themes, this theme is incomplete on a single monitor, be will be suitable when you use dual monitor. You can click Microsoft Official Web site to download it. Here is a collection of various themes provided by Microsoft. We can choose the theme according to the style. The theme of the panorama is as follows:

2. Select the theme and install it, and the theme will be installed under "Personalization". Before setting the wallpaper, we need to use the "Windows + P" key to set up the "Second Screen", the setting item is located on the right side of the screen. We can see the way to connect screen, including "PC screen only", "Duplicate", "Extend", "Second screen only". In order to achieve the effect of our panoramic theme, we need to choose "Expend" option. Figure:
3. The next we can enter "personalization", right click on the computer desktop,click on the menu to enter "personalization", select the panoramic wallpaper we have installed. Figure: 
4. To display the panoramic wallpaper on screen, we need to enter the "desktop background" blow and select the "image placement". And then we will find the wallpaper merged on the two screen into an extra long panoramic image, as shown:

Article Properties

Affected Product

Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Fixed Workstations

Last Published Date

21 Feb 2021



Article Type