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Dual Monitor Tutorial


Having 2 or more monitors is a really easy way of getting more done on your computer faster.  It's simple.  Maximize your homework or whatever on one screen, and check your e-mail on the other.  Switch between the 2, just by moving your mouse to the other monitor.  (It automatically rolls over)  Another possible use, is you can read instructions for something on one screen, while doing them on the other.  Possibilities are endless.  This is easier and cheaper than you might think.

Here's what you need:


A VGA or better monitor [3 rows of pins on the plug, as opposed to 2 on some ancient monitors back in the EGA and CGA days.]


A cheap-o graphics card.  [2 - 4 meg graphics cards work just fine, but a lesser one will work as well.  As long as it's at least VGA.]


A screw driver


10 minutes max


Windows 98 or higher


Before I get into the details, let me explain a little bit about the hardware needed, and why or why you don't need it.  You need at least a VGA monitor, because windows sucks and refuses to use anything less.  [Well, anything less would be quite ugly anyway, so this isn't much of a loss]  You can tell if this is VGA or not by it having 3 rows of pins on the rectangular connector that plugs into your computer.  If you've got this really fancy monitor that has svideo or something nifty like that on it, then make sure your graphics card has this kind of output or you have the appropriate converter. 

The graphics card can be a piece of junk ripped out of a 486.  PCI cards work the best.  I haven't tried this with any ISA cards, but I heard it can get ugly.  Also, generally the more video memory, the higher the resolution that can be achieved.  (To a certain extent)  A 4 meg card will do 1024x768 at 24bit color easily.  You can find these for dirt cheap at computer surplus outlet, or your local computer store.  Try not to spend more than $25 for a graphics card.  [Also note that don't buy a really expensive one thinking you're gonna need it for games or something.  Most games only take advantage of one monitor, therefore your primary card is the one you'll want beefed up.]

There's nothing to say about the screwdriver.  Common sense will tell you what kind of one to grab.  :-)


Ok, to get this all working, shut down your computer. pop open the case, snap the card in an available slot, put the computer back together, plug a monitor into it, and turn on your computer.  Yep, simple as that.  Now as your computer kicks on, listen for any unusual beep patterns.  You might have to set some stuff in the bios first.  (press delete or f1, or f10 or something like that when your computer is just starting)  99 times out of 100, this part will go fine.  The next thing is, watch and see which monitor stuff starts coming up on first.  Is this the right one?  If not, then pop your cover back off, and try moving the card to a slot on the other side of the original card.  [If this is not possible, then move the original card]  If your primary card is AGP, then once again, check your bios to make sure it's set to be used as primary.  

After windows comes up, it should automatically detect your card.  Install any drivers that came with your card, and reboot.  When all the drivers and stuff are working, your new graphics card will say something like "Windows has successfully initialized your graphics adapter"  Now all you gotta do is right click on your desktop, hit properties, click on the settings tab, click the big #2, and check the box that says enable the desktop on this monitor.  [Or whatever it says there, I'm writing this blind]  The 2nd monitor will kick on with your desktop.  Now, click and drag the monitors into the positions they actually are on your desk.  This will set it up so when you move the mouse off the edge on the correct side, it will go to the other screen.  

That's all there is to it! 


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Musatcha is pronounced moo-SA-cha.  I have no idea where it originated.
Copyright 1998-2005, Brad Isbell []