Multiple Studio Displays

I have this trackball, and used Keyboard Maestro macros and the upper-two buttons to jump the mouse to the middle of the next display left or right. It really cut down on trackball/mouse mileage.
Hotkeys would work too, of course, but since your hand is already on the trackball, it’s more convenient.
(Side-note, this is one of the few trackballs with a scroll ring.)

Kensington Expert Trackball

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I have described my approach here

and after using it for a couple of weeks now, the “muscle memory” is acting pretty good with the setting, so I am happy with this approach.

I completely agree, my work is heavily document based, Word, Excel, PDFs, Web pages and many, many web apps

At the office I use 2 x 24” monitors and my laptop screen below the two for this reason.

At home I don’t have the space so just about cope with a 22” monitor and my laptop side by side.

I also break out my iPad from time to time at either location, but unfortunately I have to use a WIndows laptop. :sob:

The only thing I’d really, really like is that all of my monitors are in Landscape, but I’d love something less letterbox and more 4:3 for when writing documents, especially when I want to use Split in Word.

I concur.

Photography is a hobby. Image selector app on one display. Image editor on a second display. Tool pallets on the third display.

When learning a new application or programming language. I’ll have a book or website on one display. The app or system I’m learning on the second. A note taking app on the third.

I find the extra real estate quite beneficial.

I generally run whatever I’m working on on the center display. Usually, that means either two windows side by side (Safari, text editors, word processors, etc.) or one full screen (videoconference software, video or photo editing software, etc.). The left and right monitors generally get divided in half, with supporting windows on the half nearer the center monitor and lower priority or status-board type items on the outer halves.

So, for example:

 _____________________  _____________________  _____________________
|          .          ||          .          ||          .          |
|  Parcel  .          ||          .          ||   Text   .          |
|- - - - - .   Email  ||  Safari  .  Safari  ||          . Calendar |
|   Due    .          ||          .          ||  Editor  .          |

 _____________________  _____________________  ____________________
|          .          ||          .          ||          .          |
|  Parcel  .          || Terminal .   Code   ||  Coding  .          |
|- - - - - .   Email  ||- - - - - .          || Documen- . Calendar |
|   Due    !          ||  Finder  .  Editor  ||  tation  .          |

 _____________________  _____________________  _____________________
|          .          ||                     ||          .          |
|  Parcel  .  Meeting ||                     ||   PDF    .          |
|- - - - - .          ||        Zoom         ||          . Calendar |
|   Due    .   Notes  ||                     || Document .          |

The fact that I’m not looking at the outer half of the left and right monitors that often limits the amount of neck movement required.

In addition to the above, keep in mind that on MacOS, moving your finger quickly across the trackpad will move the pointer further than a slow swipe. So if you have a long distance to go, a quick movement across the trackpad will cover a lot of distance.


How do you find having to look to a separate screen to grab a slider, then back to the main screen to see its effect? It seems like a pain to me, but I’ve never tried it. I do keep meaning to split out the thumbnails to a different screen though.

Regarding having multiple monitors to keep more content visible… I find it very simple to swipe back and forth between Spaces on a single monitor. I’m not convinced I would benefit any from having to swing my gaze versus ‘swing’ my fingers. The three finger swipe is more than just muscle memory… it’s a natural action.


I use three external monitors and the real estate on my laptop screen. I also have a 27” desktop video display for teleconferences that I can’t live without.

Like others have said, context matters. Tools like Moom and Keyboard Maestro definitely help here. I focus on two of the monitors with the third being for email/calendar or work related SSB applications.

I’m also pretty active in the stock market so having the room to watch the markets throughout the day is nice. The desktop video unit is also great because I can look like I’m paying attention while going down some completely irrelevant rabbit hole that has absolutely nothing to do with work…

+1 for Spaces on my “tiny” 13-inch MacBook Air screen!


+2 for Spaces. Apple’s implementation of virtual desktops combined with really good trackpads (desktop and laptop) is probably the single biggest reason I stick with the Mac. I make extensive use of Spaces (and Mission Control (terrible name)) even when I’m using multiple displays.


@ChrisUpchurch, @rkaplan, @MevetS, @geoffaire, @mina and @Ulli - Thank you all. These thoughts and explanations have been really helpful to crystallize my thinking that an additional display would, indeed, be quite helpful for my work.


Whenever I have to work on the move and only have a 13” laptop display, I tailor my work as much as possible to focus on work and workflows which can be completed comfortably on a single screen.

This is true at the moment when I work away from my home and office one day a week. Tasks are ringfenced to a Thursday for this very reason.

I’m lost on a single screen for work.

On my Mac Mini, I cope by using Spaces. I often wish Windows had similar built in functionality.

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It does. I use this for work on the giant 32" screen I have now.

There’s an icon down next to the Start button (at least in Windows 10) or you can press Windows-Tab to enter the “desktop viewer” (I’m sure there’s a proper name for it). From there you can add and remove desktops and move windows from one to another. It took me a little getting used to how it works, but I now make good use of it.

Once you have your windows in the right places, you can Windows-Left/Right to switch between them in much the same way as (I think) Ctrl-Left/Right on the Mac (by default).


Desktop Navigator, I think. This works for me on Windows, too. I used to use (and loved) Dexpot. But our IT policy doesn’t allow me to install it.

On Citrix:

Desktop navigator = fn+tab+command(right)

Desktop switcher = (Left)Ctrl-(Right)Cmd-arrow (left and right)

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I currently use Camera RAW & Photoshop, along with several Topaz plugins. Camera RAW and the plugins open on the ‘editing display’, and the interface includes the sliders (and other controls).

And note that the ‘editing display’ is also the main display, so the menu bar is on that display, so when I select a tool from the menu, the tool opens on the same display as the image.

I also have a Loupedeck Live device, with knobs mapped to sliders (I still learning to use it). And I’ll use the keyboard to move sliders as well.

Thus in practice it has not been an issue for me.

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The icon is two over form the Start Button, and is called “Task View” in Windows 10.

Task View


I use 3 monitors, but also Spaces so actually 30 screens to play with, using Mission Control to move things about when needed. Sounds like a crazy number, but I have got used to being able to categorise the Spaces for different uses and although many screens are often empty, I always have space to see what I want, laid out how I want. I struggle when limited to just a single screen.

I find 2 monitors irritating as it’s all lopsided, so 3 makes the most sense to me as I can have the menubar on the centre screen for main use and the other side screens are just extensions that can be used if necessary. If the resolution of all screens is the same (or close enough) you can in some circumstances spread a window across more than one screen. Not a common requirement but I use one app in a way that benefits from a really wide window.

Most importantly, I use a mouse AND a trackpad on the Right and Left respectively (I’m right handed). The trackpad is set to high speed and allows me to zip around the 3 displays with ease, while the mouse is set quite slow for fine control of the cursor when needed. This combination means I have no issue moving around the large screen real estate but also no trouble doing any work that requires fine and precise control - all without having to move my hands much. When using a Mac with just a mouse, my left hand is always trying to scroll around on the bare desktop as I have become so used to my ‘dual control’ setup.

The above works brilliantly for me, but I know others that cannot abide even a single large monitor and just want to work through the keyhole of just one small display. So we all have different requirements. The 3 monitors satisfy mine.


This is the way I have my system set up as well (although I have a fourth small (7 inch) display I use as a status monitor).

I find that having a task related set of app and windows in a specific space helps with focus (distractions are hidden) and the real estate eliminates any issues with overlapping or hidden windows.

And welcome to the forum.

Welcome to the forum, fellow user of excessive number of Spaces :grin:


Thanks for putting me onto this! I’ve been eyeing Logitech’s MX Ergo but I’m not sold on thumb-operated trackballs; it seems too similar to using a phone for me to get much benefit I think. I had no idea that big trackballs like this existed, and that scroll wheel looks veeeery nice.

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OP’s photo of 3 screens is a thing of beauty :heart_eyes: I have a 34" screen and leave my MBP open (recently switched from left to right side!) and while I would love to work in an office that looks like a war room, I think realistically my 34" is probably giving me enough space. Neck pain is definitely a thing :joy:

Yesterday I discovered, which is great, because it means you can adjust screen brightness across monitors with your existing keyboard commands/desktop buttons. It also runs a sync option so you can adjust all monitors and keep them the same. Finally, it also gives control to volume. This volume function was unexpected though great, but actually I still have an issue I’ve not figured out yet of telling my Mac to switch audio output from the MBP to my soundbar (my soundbar is plugged into my Samsung monitor). Currently I do it manually by clicking on the button in the menu bar. (To a non-hardware person it surprised me that my Mac just couldn’t figure it out on its own, though I realised after it happened the first time that there’s no reason why my MBP would know which device I want audio to come from!)

I am a big fan of “external monitors”, but they do require a bit of set up to get working properly (I’m not even going to try and figure out all this mouse/pointer navigation you’ve all got going on with Keyboard Maestro… I just wiggle my mouse and get annoyed until I find it!).

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