Multiple Studio Displays

I have three displays. My laptop display and two others. For me, I have apps on the two side monitors that do not change or move around. Also shortcut keys to switch to those apps without moving the mouse.
Most of my work on the center screen, so usually I do not move the mouse from far left to far right. However I agree, moving from first to third screen is too much.

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I have always wanted to be a multiple monitor person, but just can’t make it work for me. I am envious of your setup, Chris!

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It depends on what you use your computer for. I find that for document review/analysis and writing, there can never be too many screens.

I tend to focus on one or two as my main screen sand use the others to park items used less often for reference or websites I am monitoring in general throughout the day.

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I like your thinking on this. What size are your displays? Are you using a vesa mount for them or are the three back ones hung on the wall?

@mina - when I use my laptop at the office, I have three monitors like your set up. But the two monitors are just 24 inches.

Because I remote into my work laptop on my Studio Display, I recently switched from dual 27" (1080) monitors to a single 32" with the same (point) resolution in the office. With Windows “virtual desktops” I really feel it is a superior experience for me.

I use enough apps that I’ll never even have half what I am using visible at one time with the number of displays and Windows laptop will support, so going large with virtual desktops is the winner. Some desktops have half-and-half, some have overlapping windows (from the same application) and some are maximised.

It took my Studio Display to show me the way, however.

I have three main displays 27", 23", and 20", along with a 7" status display.

I use a Keyboard Maestro macro to jump to the center of each display. I have it set so that Caps Lock and an arrow key takes me to a specific display.

You can find more info on this thread:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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+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.

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@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.

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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).

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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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