Once you have multiple monitors/displays…

… you will never go back.

My computing life changed with the addition of multiple monitors.  Much of my work was simplified.  I was able to multitask more effectively.  My writing process (and I write a lot) changes when I am on a laptop and I am travelling and when I am at home with the mother ship.

A friend in England – whom I happily saw during my last trip across – sent me a note about the MacBook Pro with multiple monitors.  I have had my “Get A Mac” Fund going for a while and, as the goal is proximate, I have to think about what to do.

But this is attractive.  From the OWC Blog:


Including the built-in Retina display, the new 2012 MacBook Pro 15? can run four displays [OORAH!] at their native resolution.

  1. Retina on laptop @ “best for Retina”
  2. iMac used as a display @ 2560 x 1440 via Thunderbolt
  3. iMac used as a display @ 2560 x 1440 via Thunderbolt/DisplayPort
  4. LG monitor @ 1920 x 1200  via HDMI

Moving images and media didn’t create any lag and we were able to play video on all four displays simultaneously.

This is verrrrry interesting.

It may be time.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. APX says:

    My writing process (and I write a lot) changes when I am on a laptop

    I can only imagine how multiple computer monitors change things when writing. As a student, I spend a ridiculous amount of time writing papers. Before, I was trying to type them on my netbook, which I bought large enough that it was still practical for typing, but small enough to be portable. It was okay for typing papers, but it wasn’t great. It was especially difficult once I was working fulltime spending all day typing up reports on a computer, and coming home in the evening trying to type 25+ page papers on my little bitty netbook. It was a looonnnng and boring paper on Occupational Health and Safety after a loooonnnng day and painful day at the office when I realized my eyes couldn’t read the screen and I was spending more time trying to re-read what I was typing to make sure I was typing the correct thing than I was actually typing anything. I decided I needed a computer monitor. I pleaded to the Bank of Dad to fund my monitor purchase and to pick me up a 19″ flat screen LCD monitor at the Computer Outlet Store and to bring it with him when he came to visit me. Being ever so generous, he upgraded it to a 21″ higher end flat screen LCD monitor than I had picked out, he brought it to me. Writing papers has never been easier now that I can actually see what I am typing.

  2. GregH says:

    Unless you are a stock trader multiple monitors seem excessive [Wrong!]

  3. wmeyer says:

    There is no question that multiple monitors bring significant benefits in some circumstances. As a software developer, I sit all day in front of a pair of 27″ screens, and can easily imagine putting a third to good use. Four would be a stretch. As I wear glasses for computer work, there is a fairly narrow range of distance at which the screens are useful. My two are angled toward a center point. A third, above the others, or perhaps to one side could work. Three screens spanning 106 or so degrees of my field of view might even bring benefits from increased head turning.

    I routinely have multiple windows open. Some are development tools, one is a browser, and I also make use of virtual machines, most of which are set up to use two monitors, as well.

    If I were to return to a single screen now I would be frustrated very quickly.

  4. Annette says:

    Wmeyer: I have the same set up as you at work. I LOVE my two monitors. I’m finishing up a master’s and all my writing for that is at home and it’s very frustrating to have to write on my laptop. I had having to toggle back and forth from window to window. Arghhh….

  5. Laura98 says:

    I can’t say enough good things about Mac Computers… I switched over about 10 years ago and never looked back.

    While I don’t have the multiple monitors… I do have one large one and love that. It is plenty big for doing most anything… (I usually have to resize windows smaller because things are just too big!). I use mine for graphics and Photoshopping mostly. For most writing – I think one monitor should be large enough for having 4 or 5 things open at a time. I would seriously suggest getting just the one monitor at first – and see how it works before buying a second monitor. It is easy to be wowed by all the tech and glitz of screens and doo-dads of Apple products (I know… I’ve done it!)… My 2 cents worth… :)

  6. iPadre says:

    I use an Apple 30″ Display. It is awesome! Hope I can connect it to Thunderbolt.

    Multiple displays are awesome for writing, for podcasting and web development, and many other projects.

  7. goodsaints says:

    I just added a third monitor and love the extra space. Coding in one, databases/virtual machines in another and web browser/email/chat in the newest really works for me.

  8. Mark Scott Abeln says:

    When I was working on my first book, I had THREE computers working at the same time — a desktop on my desk, a laptop next to the desk, and a machine sitting on a chest of drawers in my bedroom for offloading some operations.

    I’m working on my third book, and I’m just using one machine with a nice big screen. Yes, I get confused when switching between windows because I have so many open. It would be nice to have another monitor, but I found out that insufficient memory was a bigger problem, and so I upgraded while finishing up the second book.

  9. Kypapist says:

    At my work as a CPA, I use three monitors and am angling for a 4th. I can view email, prior year tax return and current year tax return all at the same time. It is so efficient. At home I have two monitors, one for dvd viewing and one for video games. It is so entertaining.

  10. Bryan Boyle says:

    Actually, this is what the good Father’s computer room will look like, some day in the future…:)

    (Full disclosure, I worked here as the Local Services Manager from 2000-2002)


  11. Bryan Boyle: I love it!

    My present setup:

  12. wmeyer says:

    Not bad, Fr. Z, but all those single-screen workstations are less flexible than a good multi-monitor setup.

  13. Bryan Boyle says:

    yeah, wmeyer, but they’re all touch-screens. makes life a lot easier…;)

    Good one, Father.

  14. wmeyer says:

    True enough, Bryan, and I don’t relish the thought of developing code on a touch-screen system.

    But on the other hand, there’s this. Of course, when you’re close enough to touch, you’re close enough to count the pixels. ;)

  15. Scarltherr says:

    We use invidea to run multiple screens, and for layout, citations, frankly anytime you want to cut and paste, it makes the writing process so much easier. even two instances side by side on one screen can’t compare. Of course, now that you say it, I feel validated, Father Z. I always thought it was a manifestation of ADHD… or maybe, OCD.

  16. Jim of Bowie says:

    Awsome Bryan. I use two monitors and love it.

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