Photo by Scott Bourne

The first time I saw Photoshop running on more than one monitor at a time, I knew that I had to get the same set up. If your hardware supports it, you too can set up to use two monitors simultaneously while working in Photoshop.

Most Apple computers support this capability right out of the box, and most Windows PCs can be configured this way by adding a second graphics card.

The most common application of dual monitors is to place all your tools and dialog boxes on one monitor, while your image work area is contained on the second monitor.

On a Mac, open the control panel and select Monitors. You will be allowed to set one monitor as “number one” and the other as “number two.” You can also set color depth and resolution here to your liking.

I like to put all my tool palettes on the left and my image on the right. I can open all of the Photoshop tool windows at once this way and still have full access to my image.

This tip reduces the need to constantly re-size your image, shrink it, or move it in order to get better access to tools.

Make sure that you calibrate the monitor that you use to look at the images. Do NOT calibrate the monitor that you use for your tool windows.

Join the conversation! 17 Comments

  1. OK, I’ll bite…. Why do you NOT want to calibrate the other monitor. I understand that you don’t have to, but you seem to imply that there’s some bad behavior if you do.

    Back in the halcyon days of using Aperture, using both screens was really common and both needed to be calibrated as both were displaying images.

    Curious regards,

    – dave

  2. Great to point this out, Scott. For years, I couldn’t afford to make the jump, and wasn’t completely sold on the benefits. I have now used dual monitors for about 3 months now, and I love it. I do it a little differently, though.

    I have both monitors color calibrated with my Spyder; on the left monitor lives Lightroom, and the right monitor holds Photoshop, which allows me to work in and out of the two programs quickly and seemlessly without any real sense of ‘switching’ apps.

    Also, I put iWeb on the left and iPhoto on the right when setting up Web sites, too, which works fantastically.

    Really loving the show, so thanks to you and Alex!



  3. Just a side note: pressing tab will toggle the display of all the toolbars on and off. I’ve found that for me, this is almost as good as a second monitor, although it comes down to personal preference obviously (and dialog boxes still obscure your view). Just thought I’d mention the other option for people who didnt know about it yet.

  4. Dave the easiest answer is that it’s a complete and utter waste of time. You don’t need to have Photoshop palettes that appear on a calibrated monitor. You need photos that appear on a calibrated monitor. Additionally – most monitor calibrators and ICC software combinations will only allow you to profile one monitor.

  5. I run 4 19″ monitors on 1 system!

  6. Dual (or Tri) monitors is fantastic for software development, too. Can’t think back to when I didn’t have it, and it’s a massive personal performance improvment.

    I can understand why photo stuff would benefit. Anything where switching between windows is a PITA would benefit.

    these days, for dev anyway, it’s cheap too – 2x 22″ monitors is around £350, which is about the same as a daily rate for a developer in London….

  7. It might be worthwhile to note that most laptops can run a second monitor. I picked up a garage sale CRT monitor for just this purpose and $10 was in my price range.

  8. What about using a huge LCD tv….could you imagine.

  9. Come on guys, can any body say april fools? It seems a little fishy to me. The whole calibration thing. Maybe I’m just paraniod. I only fall for one April fools joke a year.
    In other news Nikon just dropped the price of the D3 from $5,000 to $3,000 you can check it out on Nikon USA’s press release page.

  10. Gonzalo you need medical attention.

  11. I’m sorry… I got lost between Doug’s laptop/2nd monitor and the Steve’s LCD comment and somehow imagined a 42 inch LCD sitting my lap, running photoshop…

  12. What about only this LCD:

    Can you imagine?

  13. 19″ monitor on your desktop…then a WHOPPING 50″ 1080dp samsung tv….

    oh the possibilities!

    and to the person who showed the picture of the 2 asian ladies standing by the tv….Don’t be ridiculous that Tv is just TOO big.. :P

  14. I´m not ridiculous. I was just kidding.

  15. Most Windows machines running recent video cards from ATI can support dual monitors out of the box. I’d also say that 90% of Windows laptops made in the last three to five years also support this feature. This is a great tip…I don’t have photoshop, but the other tools I use are much, much easier this way. And, for grins, I did use my 32 inch Vizio flat screen as a second display. It’s a bit much.

  16. what monitors do you guys use? if EIZO, can you specify the model. im looking at a few options now to upgrage my workstation. i currently only work off my 15″ MBP running aperture

  17. I will never go back to using less than 2 monitors… 1 monitor is just not enough space to do what you need to do.

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