Just about anybody with more than a single display connected to their Windows system will tell you Windows itself is not great at handling the situation. It has always been a rather awkward affair in trying to choose what is shown on which display. Although software drivers from the likes of AMD and nVidia are a lot better these days at handling things like multiple displays and extra options like screen rotation, it still comes down to how well Windows manages the extra displays.
The problem has always been in selecting the monitor to be the primary display. If you want to do something simple like play a game or run a certain application on your secondary monitor or TV, it has to be changed to the primary display. The majority of software will only open on the screen identified as the primary which makes it rather frustrating to keep switching back and forth.
Nirsoft has come up with a utility to try and make it easier to manage multiple monitors and switching between the primary and secondary displays. MultiMonitorTool can quickly enable or disable the selected display without needing to dig through driver or control panel settings, as well as the ability to alter the primary display at the click of a button or press of a hotkey.
In addition, MultiMonitorTool has a preview window option that can show the selected monitor’s screen inside a resizable window. And also you can easily view information for, and move an application’s window from one display to the next, or directly to the primary.
This is another small, completely portable and standalone program that is free to use. Just unzip the 32bit or 64bit download and you’re all set. Do note that this tool only works if your desktop is extended to multiple monitors, not if you have duplicate displays across multiple monitors.
The main window is split into two halves. The top pane will display information about the monitor or TV that is available including its co-ordinates, whether it is an active or primary display, the name, the adapter and device ID. Selecting a display will enable the toolbar buttons to be clicked or the right click menu can be called. You can choose to turn the display on or off or switch the current selection to be the primary monitor.
Hotkeys are available for most of the programs functions so you can minimize MultiMonitorTool to the tray with ‘Options’ -> ‘Put icon on tray’ and then use the key combinations such as Ctrl+F9 to set a primary monitor.
The lower pane shows any windows that are currently open on the selected display. Information such as the window co-ordinates, size, window class and process details is given. Selecting a window and right clicking or using the toolbar will allow you to move an application window to the next monitor or move the window directly to the primary display.
The preview window can be useful if you don’t have a view of another screen because you can select it and then monitor the chosen display from the preview window. It is activated by the left most toolbar button, ‘View‘ -> ‘Activate Monitor Preview‘, or by pressing F2. The window can be resized by dragging from the edge, the resize will be aspect ratio locked. The preview quality setting can be set as high or low from ‘Options‘ -> ‘Monitor Preview Mode‘.
MultiMonitorTool also supports the use of command line options which you can insert into batches or shortcuts. A display can be enabled, disabled, switched or set as primary by simply calling the command and the monitor name (eg; \\.\DISPLAY2) or number (2) taken from the MultiMonitorTool display name column. The /MoveWindow command can also be used to move a single or batch of windows between displays.
Here’s a quick rundown of some useful commands with examples, consult the Nirsoft website for more details such as the saving and loading of configuration files.
/disable – “MultiMonitorTool.exe /disable 2” will disable display 2.
/enable – MultiMonitorTool.exe /enable \\.\DISPLAY2 will enable display 2.
/switch – MultiMonitorTool.exe /switch 1 2 will switch displays 1 and 2 on or off.
/setprimary – MultiMonitorTool.exe /SetPrimary 3 sets display 3 as primary.
/movewindow – MultiMonitorTool.exe /movewindow 1 All 2 will move all open windows from display 1 to display 2. This command can also be used to move windows by process name, window title or class name.
The last thing worth a mention is the program allows you to save and restore the current configuration of all displays on the system. This includes display resolution, colour depth, and display position. These options are aceessed through the File menu.
MultiMonitorTool works from Windows XP right up to Windows 8 (32bit and 64bit).