DEV Community

Cover image for Use 2 monitors for learning and work
Rustam Apay
Rustam Apay

Posted on • Updated on

Use 2 monitors for learning and work

The cover image shows me using 1st monitor to watch youtube tutorial while coding on 2nd.

Since I bought an extra monitor to plug into my laptop 3 years ago, I can’t imagine myself doing anything serious without it.

Even if you are a poor: student, career switcher, beginner in job, with lack of money, I highly recommend you to buy even a cheap second hand monitor as soon as possible, because it will increase your efficiency at times.

Use cases

As a JavaScript full-stack developer I always learn new things (Frontend, Backend, Mobile, Desktop, Chrome extensions, Scrapping, Cloud deployment etc.)

Whether it’s a paid job or a side project, the working process is generally the same. And to feel comfortable I need to keep opened in full screen 2 apps at the same time.

  1. I watch a video tutorial to get basic ideas about the new subject, and repeat all steps after the tutor

    • 1st monitor – youtube video
    • 2nd monitor – code editor
  2. I read documentation/book and take notes in mindmap for deep understanding of material.

    • 1st monitor – documentation site
    • 2nd monitor – mindmap editor
  3. I code

    • 1st monitor – result of coding (web page or mobile app emulator)
    • 2nd monitor – code editor

When you have only 1 monitor, you should either:

  • switch between full-screen windows/apps or
  • split screen between apps

In both cases, blinking full screen apps or managing lack of width in part screen opened apps will take a lot of your cognitive energy, and you get tired much faster. Also, you can harm your eyes.

So two monitors is the solution. Simultaneously opened, two full-screen apps give you a big advantage to manage information, absorb new knowledge and do your work with fewer efforts.

Example, that's how I mindmaped NextJS docs using 2 monitors:

2 monitors. On the 1st one opened NextJS docs, on the 2nd one opened mindmap editing tool

Hardware setup

Prefer vertical setup over horizontal

If you google something like “multiple monitors” – and look at images, you get the wrong idea about their setup, because lots of images are about Horizontal setup, which will kill your neck in one day. Instead, you should choose a vertical setup – so you can switch your eyes from one monitor to another without straining your neck.

You don’t need for that a tricky gadget holder – any jar or box with proper size is suitable. I use an Ikea's Pyssla jar as a stand for monitor for years, and it is pretty good:

an Ikea's Pyssla jar as a stand for monitor

Operational System setup

Just as google search, OS will push you to horizontal setup. However, you can change positioning in desktop settings. That relative position of 1 to 2 affects on how mouse cursor will be moving between monitors. It is good when OS settings follow along with real life monitors’ position, so you will work intuitively.

gif animation: how you can set up extra monitor position related to main monitor

Conclusion

Maybe you have noticed on the first picture with me: my monitor is old, with defect of two colored vertical lines. And my laptop is old without a key ";/:". So I even ashamed to show them to you. But together they are a cool tool for study and work. I prefer such couple over MacBook that I have.

Discussion (105)

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited on

Only 2? 😜

Welcome to the wonderful world of screen real-estate addiction!

computer with 2 43 inch screens, one vertical and 3 21 inch screens plus a laptop screen.

p.s. couldn't agree more, 2 screens is a massive productivity boost, 99% of people don't need this setup I have and it is overkill!

But I would say save up and buy a 40+ inch 4k monitor as your main, being able to tile 4 1920x1080 windows on one screen is huge for time saving and that stops you having to look at more than one monitor, then keep the second monitor on your laptop for slack, emails or whatever you need open but not in direct line of sight!

Collapse
joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR • Edited on

People usually tell me that I'm using more monitors than they can handle and I'm using "only" 3:

  • 27inch 2560x1440 in the middle as main monitor.
  • 24inch 2560x1440 in vertical
  • ultra-wide 25inch 2560x1080 at the top

when working in my desktop and 4 when using the laptop connected to the dock station so... well, I'm saving this post to make 'em think that twice 😆

If I don't forget about it I'll upload a pic later :)

Edit: didn't forget about it. There's a picture below in another comment plus you can see other pictures here.

Cheers! 😁

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

I would love to see the setup, especially if you put effort into aesthetics (as you can see mine is "all work no play" looking at the moment 🤣)!

Thread Thread
joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

I'm adding a reminder :D

Thread Thread
joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR • Edited on

@apayrus @inhuofficial

The top screen is at the left cuz I'm playing with a server but well, you can get an Idea.

More pics of the setup here

PD: I know I should tidy up my desk 😅

Thread Thread
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

waw, cool setup. )) I have never met in real life monitor standing vertical, only on photos on the internet :D

Thread Thread
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

for what you need so many fans on the right side of picture? Mining bitcoin?

Thread Thread
joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

It's just about picking an adjustable monitor stand on amazon, those are subject to the desk itself. Then you can directly attach the screen in vertical or rotate it (depending on the stand).

It's very useful, you'll get used to it in few minutes.

I even knew a dev who worked with two vertical screens one next to the other and I need to say that it's not as bad as it seems but it's just nice if you only do code or studying (a pdf plus a word and so on) in your computer. Watching movies, playing games... you need to rotate a screen to landscape at least

Thread Thread
joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

@apayrus I do mine bitcoins when not doing other things yes but the amount of fans is just because... ¿why not? 😆

I've a Ryzen 5800X which is not so hot but at the time of getting the 360mm liquid AiO I said myself I would prefer to have some Corsair LL120RGB at the front so that's it, I set up the pull-push on it with 6 fans.

The other 3 fans are from the RTX 3080 Vision

Thread Thread
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Love the open air rig you have there! 🔥

Thread Thread
joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

It's a Thermaltake Core P3 in case you want to get an upgrade :)

Thread Thread
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

They don't make it anymore so I am going to have to buy second hand and sell the components but this has been the case I have wanted for years, so hopefully I will build a custom PC in this one:

scan.co.uk/products/deepcool-gamer...

Thread Thread
joelbonetr profile image
Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community. View Code of Conduct
JoelBonetR

How come, I can find it in Amazon UK -> link.

The Quadstellar is a huuuuge box, you may need a new desktop just for it 😆

Thread Thread
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

I meant the quadstellar has been discontinued! It was a poor choice of phrasing on my part, sorry for confusion!

Yeah it is a big boi, but I have a 2m by 2m desk L-shaped desk so there is space for it where my laptop currently lives!

Thread Thread
joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

Haha NP, Got it!

I personally tested many different PC Chassis and I'm not coming back to a closed one. Having it opened plus wallmounted it's so easy to clean up and to swap some parts that I'm in love with that 😆

Everyone stares at it

Thread Thread
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Yeah there is an angled one that looks awesome, considered it a few times but I don’t think my tubing and wiring would be neat enough so that puts me off! 🤣

This one:

Thermaltake Core P90 Tempered Glass Black ATX Mid Tower Open Frame Viewing Tt LCS Certified Gaming Computer Case CA-1J8-00M1WN-00 amazon.co.uk/dp/B078TMMJY8/ref=cm_...

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

Cool :) I will wait for picture.
And do you use them all properly? Isn't it just mania for monitors? ))

Thread Thread
joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

The vertical one is splitted in 3 using powerToys so I've the email, the chat and the secondary browser on there. Currently Outlook (that I hate), MS Teams and Opera GX (with whatsapp pinned in the quick bar).

The main monitor is where I code, usually there's only 2/3 Apps on it but all of them full screen and I switch between them with Alt+Tab or hitting the icon. Those are VSCode, GitKraken and Google Chrome.

The top one is handling GitKraken sometimes and I handle my kamban on it. Also I use Notepad++ to take some notes or concepts I need to approach or analyze later when on a meeting, or just keywords with names that helps me organizing the team.

I don't usually use the laptop screen but when I do I let there any other app that I could need in the mean time like Slack (that I hate as well) to chat with client or third party software people.

Sometimes I let two views of the webApp on a secondary monitor, one with the responsive set to smartphone and the other set to desktop (the top screen does this job well).

Thread Thread
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited on

Power toys is a must for multi monitor, awesome piece of software!…just the name always make me giggle as I am childish and think it would be the name of a site for “adult toys for the more adventurous” 🤣

Thread Thread
joelbonetr profile image
JoelBonetR

Hahaha remember of DevToys as well, it's useful for devs 😁

Collapse
wesen profile image
Manuel Odendahl • Edited on

This is great. I do need to find a couple of small old monitors for monitoring as well. When doing full stack development, it's great to have a lot of "monitors" around your main windows, showing database log and load, current web traffic, conversion metrics. The more the better, because it will help catch behaviour that might otherwise go unseen. It also makes it easy to dedicate full windows to things like variables and expressions / stacktrace when debugging.

We have recently moved in our new house with my wife, and my work basement is not fully setup yet, but this is what I am currently working with (you can tell how I was experimenting with additional displays and a third mobile arm.

desktop

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

Waw, cool! Congratulations on the new house! I hope your neighbors will understand your monitor addiction right )) and they wont think that you are a spy from CIA ))

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Love this setup! Vertical monitors are far better for coding 💪

Just a shame that when you want to chill and watch a video they are useless…but I just call it a productivity hack 🤣

Collapse
thormeier profile image
Pascal Thormeier • Edited on

This. I've got my laptop screen and two external ones in my companie's office. The external ones are both in portrait because it a) forces me to write shorter lines of code (seriously, sideways scrolling is a pain) and b) you see a ton more of your code/terminal/web app/chat at once. Also makes screenshots of larger bits of content, like listings, a lot easier. I once added the third one with the mindset of "let's try, I can always go back" and never went back lol

EDIT: Wait, are you sporting a Lenovo Legion there? :D

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

Cool. I also thought about portrait setup, but haven't such holders )
I avoid long strings with ptettier, there is option "print width": 80, if I write longer, it split a string into parts by new lines and indents.
Also sometimes I need width for 3 columns: files list, 2 code files opened, I don't know how it will place on portrait.

Thread Thread
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited on

You just change to stacking them on top of each other if you need to view multiple files, it takes a little getting used to but still works well!

Have to admit though I found side by side better, so a very large landscape monitor became my preference in the end!

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Vertical screens are awesome for coding! I used to do that until I bought the two 43 inch ones (110cm), the portrait one is too tall to use the top of the screen in any productive way though (as my intention was to mount BOTH vertically until I realised that 🤣).

Would love to see a pic of your setup and see where you create magic!

Wait, are you sporting a Lenovo Legion there? :D

No, it is bespoke!

The poor thing is getting old now, but when it was new it was a monster machine!

Overclocked i7, overclocked nVidia 1080, 5TB of storage (1TB on m.2…which cost more than the graphics card back then!). When I used to game on it it sounded like a fighter jet when the fans spun up to try and keep the thing cool! 🤣

Sadly haven’t games for about 3 years, so it is a massively overspecced word processor now 🤣

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

I don't know why to use more than two :)

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

I use it for monitoring things.

I run my own business and also work at daily.dev, so I need to keep an eye on my business while working for them.

So the 3 small monitors are for monitoring software and comms for my business. I have several projects I maintain for clients that cannot go down for more than a few minutes so I have loads of early warning stuff etc.

The large vertical monitor is for "parking" stuff while keeping it in view when needed, useful for when designing something and trying to reference all the assets, the design briefs etc. Saves an awful lot of switching between applications.

The laptop screen is not in line of sight, so I just stick WhatsApp and email on there and check them occasionally (not needed at all, just a nice to have / a side effect of running everything from a laptop...desktop will replace it soon!)

90% of my time is on main monitor, which is why I said buy one large one, I tile VScode on the left top to bottom (so I can see HTML, CSS and JS all at once without switching between tabs for example), browser top right and design docs, terminal, folders etc. as needed in bottom right so that it is all on that one screen.

Same principle as 2 screens, I never need to switch between tabs so it saves me time essentially!

Hope that helps...I am an unusual use case so most people will not need that amount of screen space 🤣!

Thread Thread
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

I wrote this post because one girl on Twitter asked, for what we use 2 monitors :D
And I thought, that lots of people haven't any idea how it can improve their efficiency 1 additional monitor.

Collapse
natescode profile image
Nate

Love it. Command center right there.

Collapse
thomasbnt profile image
Thomas Bnt

Woooah too many screens :0

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Never! I want mooooore! 🤣

Collapse
ngochang29397 profile image
jelly

this looks so cool ^^

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Thanks! ❤️

Collapse
themmako profile image
notsoavailablemako

yeah i think it really boosts your productivity and for someone who works

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

Hi. I'm sorry. Because of hot discussion of monitors I forgot to ask: for what do you use mic? Do you record screencasts, podcast, courses?

Collapse
makar2 profile image
Makar

OMFG!!!

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Haha, the bit you can't tell from the picture is that whole desk is sit-stand, so it feels like I am commanding a star ship when I raise it all up to work standing 🤣

Some say I am easily amused...they are probably right! 😋

Thread Thread
makar2 profile image
Makar

Oh, hell no :)))

Collapse
themmako profile image
notsoavailablemako

cool

Collapse
inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial

Collapse
natescode profile image
Nate • Edited on

No, ONE BIG monitor lol.

Monitor

Collapse
jaecktec profile image
Constantin

If you put it vertical it would be enough to see spring boot stack traces

Collapse
natescode profile image
Nate

Maybe 😂.

Thread Thread
ammarsherif profile image
Ammar Sherif Mohammed

I do have one question though, why do you have 2 keyboards😅

Thread Thread
natescode profile image
Nate

I have 3 jobs. My main job sent me that keyboard so I use that one since my mulidevicr Bluetooth one doesn't work with it.

Thread Thread
ammarsherif profile image
Ammar Sherif Mohammed

ahaa ok

Collapse
wiseai profile image
Mahmoud Harmouch

One BIG FAT monitor for the win!

Collapse
eugenman profile image
Eugen

It's airfield 😄

Collapse
yassineldeeb profile image
Yassin Eldeeb 🦀 • Edited on

BIG isn't enough for this monster, GIGANTIC is much better.

Collapse
ammarsherif profile image
Ammar Sherif Mohammed

I love these types of monitors. Is this the Samsung Odyssey?

Collapse
natescode profile image
Nate

Sure is. 49" of beautiful curves 😊.

Thread Thread
thumbone profile image
Bernd Wechner

Alas, at over $2000, I found the 43" Philips 4K HDR display for $700 a more satisfactory investment.

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

Only now I have seen the image :| waw.
I suppose its diagonal is measurable not in inches but in meters :D

Collapse
natescode profile image
Nate

Haha yeah. It's the same as two 27" 1440p side by side monitors.

Collapse
colonelxy profile image
Harold Oliver 🛡️

Woah! Gigantic, crazy monolith!

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

I thought to include that option into an article, but didn't, and was waiting it in comments :D

Collapse
natescode profile image
Nate

All good. I love mine. Multiple monitors have other benefits.

Collapse
lobodol profile image
lobodol • Edited on

I think this is a terrible idea to use vertical setup: the top of the screen should be levelled with your eyes in order to prevent neck ache.
Source: blitzresults.com/en/ergonomic/

setup

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author • Edited on

Please, look at my setup from the side:
my setup from the side

Collapse
lobodol profile image
lobodol

Viewing angle should be about 30°:

Viewing angle
Source

With your setup, I'm pretty sure your viewing angle is greater than 30° which may lead to neck pain in long term.

Thread Thread
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

Thank you for taking care of me ❤️
I use this setup for 3 years. And since then I spend much more time coding or writing -- because I don't get tired as soon as before. I don't look at both monitors at once. E.g: I code 5 minutes on a big monitor, then 10-20sec I look at results on a small monitor. Or I read doc 5 min, then 1 min I take notes on another monitor etc.
So, I suppose I don't look at once more than 30 degrees. And switches aren't too frequent.

Thread Thread
lobodol profile image
lobodol • Edited on

Thanks for your feedback 👍
I will take time to try this setup

Collapse
wiseai profile image
Mahmoud Harmouch

alt + tab will do the trick.

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

Yes in some cases :)
I like to see both windows opened.

Collapse
wiseai profile image
Mahmoud Harmouch

Some people are used to more than one monitor without feeling overwhelmed. But for others, it is a source of distraction. I only see the need for a second monitor if you share your screen with others and don't want to show confidential information. Moreover, I don't think it is healthy to move your head all around frequently.

Thread Thread
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

Did you try monitors one on top of another? I feel that healthy, my neck is ok :)
I use only 2 monitors:
1) read/watch
2) write/draw

Collapse
jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy • Edited on

I used to use multiple monitors, then went back to one for a while... preferred it, and never switched back. I find it much easier to focus.

Multi-monitor support on macos is kinda crappy, but swiping between workspaces works brilliantly

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author • Edited on

My monitor has only VGA port, and mac doesn't have it :)
So I am still with my Lenovo with Ubuntu
For me it is easier to focus when everything you need has already opened.
And it is not so much "multiple" (I imagine how difficult it can be), but it is just 2.
From 1st -- I read, in 2nd -- write.

Collapse
brampayrequest profile image
Bram Hammer • Edited on

widescreen setup
2 screen setup I use 😍
Having the big widescreen made everything 1000x better. So much more space, better overview, cleaner workspace on screen. Don't want anything else anymore!

Collapse
jaecktec profile image
Constantin

I scaled down from two to one. Since I do TDD I hardly need to click test anything. Just in the end I do a test and then I focus fully on all the acceptance criteria.

Anything but my code starts to distract me.

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

I understand you. Unneeded things distract me too.
For other people mobility is a crucial factor, so they never think of extra monitor.

Collapse
jaecktec profile image
Constantin

Also we paired 90%. Two screens 2 keyboards 2 mice one pc. A multi monitor setup is simply not supported (macos) if you mirror the screen.

Collapse
paratron profile image
Christian Engel • Edited on

To be honest... yeah I prefer working on 2 or 3 screens. But I have absolutely no problem unplugging and working on just my 15" laptop.

Its overrated. You can only focus one thing with your eyes anyways. You either look around or hit Alt+Tab, I dont even think about it anymore 🤷‍♂️

Collapse
jonaspetri profile image
Jonas Petri

I definitely agree! It is so much easier to work for me with two monitors.

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

Thank you!
You are a first person who agree with me here without any caveats :D
And without showing your 10 monitors setup :D

Collapse
jonaspetri profile image
Jonas Petri

lol

Collapse
froxxninethree profile image
Froxx93

"you should choose a vertical setup – so you can switch your eyes from one monitor to another without straining your neck."

I thought so too, but after having massive neck problems and being treated by a chiropractor over months, I changed my set up to 1 major thing: movement.
There is nothing worse for your neck (even your body in general) than staying static. So I started using 3 monitors (horizontally) to have continuous neck movement as well as an electrical desk that is easily changeable in height. I switch between standing and sitting multiple times a day, turn my neck a lot, and my whole neck and back situation improved drastically.
Just my 2 cents

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

I also thought about electrical desk, but it is too expensive to me for now :-(
I'll try it later, thank you for reminding.
Honestly I don't spend much time in front of laptop, it is another sad story I hope I'll tell here later. So I cannot guarantee that my setup is good in any cases (depends on time you spend coding, body condition, age etc). Sorry that I didn't include all these caveats into the post, I was afraid it becomes too long and boring.
So, your 2 cents is very valuable. I hope many readers here will see it.

Collapse
alco profile image
Jakub Stibůrek

I have used only a laptop screen, then laptop plus side screen, then two screens with a pc. Fast forward to me being a full time developer now, I use only one 27" monitor. I found out that I don't like moving my head because it causes stress on my neck and I get headache. But I also like my workplace minimal and I always want to focus only on the task at hand so I fell in love with the "workspaces", that is multiple views that can be quickly switched. Now I usually have my IDE on one, then if I move to left (mac os, on ubuntu it's up and down) I have Slack there, to the right is the browser. I also keep an empty "screen" for music apps, Todoist etc. This setup means that I get to look at only one monitor and still get as many screens as I need. No need to spend cash on those extra monitors guys!

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

I avoided pain in the neck by setting monitors vertical -- one above another.
I also used working spaces like you and it was good expirience.
I need two monitors, because for me it is important to read-watch --> type/draw at the same time, so I need two full-screen opened apps at the same time. That's why I use them.

Collapse
fathidevs profile image
fathidevs

My second monitor is my cellphone, my desktop is the floor, my emulator is my second monitor, and I read docs/watch yt tuts on the monitor that serve it first

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

Great words. I wish you great success in everything!

Collapse
fathidevs profile image
fathidevs

Thank you

Collapse
teresalechuga10 profile image
Teresa Lechuga

Kinda looking great. Personally I use 2 monitors for work + tv for games and films. I am designer create.vista.com/create/podcast/, so monitors quality is necessary, tv not at all, but it cool for me

Collapse
teresalechuga10 profile image
Teresa Lechuga • Edited on

this my setup

Collapse
bramburn profile image
Bhavesh Ramburn

i think one is enough, two is distraction. I remember the days before browser tabs!

Collapse
apayrus profile image
Rustam Apay Author

Yes. It is especially important for whom mobility is crucial. Because they cannot bring monitor everywhere they go :)

Collapse
bramburn profile image
Bhavesh Ramburn

yes true

Collapse
eonuk profile image
eonuk

Two screens. 27" as main monitor. And just the laptop as second. Been using two monitors since before 2000.

Collapse
wiseai profile image
Mahmoud Harmouch

I have just dropped an article about this topic. I hope you will find it useful.

Collapse
andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Two monitors seems to be the sweet spot for most developers myself included.

Collapse
zerocoolback profile image
zerocoolback

I much prefer using a single monitor for work… and here’s the post from someone else who agrees: hackernoon.com/why-i-stopped-using...

Collapse
mrdulin profile image
official_dulin

Agree, I read an article before that two monitors can achieve the most efficient, more than two monitors, the efficiency will decline.

Collapse
jarrodhroberson profile image
Jarrod Roberson

Or just use a single 1000R monitor that is 5216 X 1440 :-)
Samsung G9 Odyssey is awesome!

Collapse