Using Wide Monitors Effectively

The monitors people use on their computers today are often much larger than the ones used with earlier computers. Long gone are the days of 640x480 resolution screens, 800x600 resolution screens, and even 1024x768 resolution screens. While some people might still have such monitors, many now have much larger widescreen monitors.

A common resolution for widescreen monitors is 1920x1080 - as this is the same resolution as is used by high definition televisions. This is over twice as wide as many of those earlier screens and almost twice as wide as the widest of the previously common resolutions.

Even though you might be using a screen that is twice as wide, the programs you are running are still much the same and most will benefit more from the small amount of extra height available on the screen than they will form the large amount of extra width.

An obvious solution is to have two programs open on the screen side by side with each having half of the screen width. This means that instead of having to swap back and forth between the programs to be able to see what is showing in which as you used to have to do with the smaller screens, you can now see the content of two programs at the same time. As many people often work with more than one program at a time, being able to see two complete programs at once can make a significant difference in how easy it is to work with them. With a 1920 wide screen, each half would be 960 wide which is quite wide enough for most of the programs you would normally work with.

Microsoft realised how useful this would be and so in Windows 7 they have provided a really simple way in which you can easily tell programs to take up exactly one half of the width of your screen. They have also made it really easy to be able to switch programs from one side of the screen to the other so that if you have three or more programs open it is easy to swap them around so that the two you need are visible side by side.

To be able to work this way easily in Windows 7 you need to be able to press two keys on your keyboard at the same time. One of the two keys - the one that you need to hold down - is the key with the Window symbol on it that can be found at the bottom left of the keyboard next to the left Ctrl key (some keyboards may also have a second identical key toward the bottom right as well). The other keys you need to press with that key in order to make the programs use exactly half the width and to choose which side of the screen they appear on are the left and right arrow keys. So "Window key/Left Arrow" will display the program with the focus in the left half of the screen and "Window key/Right Arrow" will display it in the right half of the screen.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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