Having a dual monitor setup on your Mac is a huge boost to your productivity. You're wasting more time than you might think sorting and arranging app windows. If you double the space for these windows, you will spend less time on them and more time on your work.
Setting up your Mac with dual monitors is easier than ever. But getting the most out of them is a completely different problem. That's why we've rounded up some of our favorite tips to help you get the most out of multiple Mac monitors.
1. Make yourself at home by arranging your monitors
By default, macOS usually configures your second monitor to display exactly the same content as the first, known as "mirroring". This is useful when giving a presentation to a group of people, but not when you want more window space. Fortunately, turning it off is easy.
Open minded System settings, go to To sue, then choose the arrangement Tab. Deactivate Mirror displays to extend the desktop to the second monitor instead. This allows you to have different windows on both monitors, which can improve your productivity.
Here you can also choose the arrangement of your monitors, including left and right. Depending on how you've physically set them up, you might even want to drag one monitor icon over the other. The arrangement of your monitors makes it easy to move the mouse pointer between screens. Simply drag the cursor to the edge of one screen towards the other monitor and the cursor will automatically move to the other screen.
Another configuration you should make is your primary monitor selection. To do this, simply drag the white bar at the top of one of the screens into the To sue Section on your preferred monitor.
Is one of your displays not listed? Learn how to troubleshoot multiple Mac monitor issues.
2. Place your dock in the right place
Most dual monitor Mac users want their dock at the bottom of the same screen as the menu bar, but that doesn't mean you have to. You can move it to the side of the screen instead. If your primary screen is on the left, the dock will be placed on the right to place it on top of the secondary monitor.
To adjust the position of your dock, open System settings, then choose dock. Here you can see them Position on the screen Article where you can choose Left, bottom, or To the right. You can also choose to automatically hide or show the dock as you wish.
3. Get even more space to work with virtual desktops
It's possible that even with multiple monitors, you need even more space on your Mac. You could start by carefully arranging windows, or you could use another feature built into macOS: Spaces. This is Apple's version of the virtual desktop that lets you organize windows into multiple groups and switch between them at will.
However, storage space can be an issue if your Mac has a second monitor. For example, opening an app in full screen mode can cause one of your monitors to go blank. This does not indicate a problem with your monitor – this is how Spaces works by default. However, this is easy to change so that you can always take full advantage of your Mac's dual monitors.
Open minded System settings, then look for that Mission control Section. Here, check the option labeled Displays have separate rooms. If you're using a newer version of macOS it might be turned on by default, but older versions are usually not turned on.
4. Do you have an iPad? You have a different monitor
Spaces can help you get some of the benefits of a second monitor without actually owning one. However, this isn't the only way to get extra space to work without wasting money on an additional monitor. If you have an iPad, you can use it as a second monitor for your Mac.
There are a few ways to do this. One of them is Duet Display, an app that runs on your Mac and iPad so you can use the latter as another monitor. This costs $ 9.99, but it works with Windows too, so it's great value for money.
However, if you're using at least macOS 10.15 Catalina, you have another free option. Sidecar is a feature built into macOS, starting with Catalina, that lets you pair your iPad as a second monitor. We have a guide to help you use your iPad as a second monitor with a sidecar for more information.
If you're from Linux or Windows, you may be used to sending apps to different monitors with keyboard shortcuts. On macOS, you are quite limited in making these shortcuts. But BetterTouchTool can fix this situation easily.
This app was originally aimed at activating your trackpad, but you can do more with the keyboard too. Actions include moving a window to the next monitor, centering an app on a specific monitor, and more. You can assign these options to any keyboard shortcut you want.
BetterTouchTool is extremely powerful and can do a lot more than what is mentioned here, making it easily worth the $ 7.50 the developer is asking for a license. However, it's also available as part of a SetApp subscription, which costs $ 10 a month for a bundle of useful apps. If you're curious, we've put together a list of apps that make a SetApp subscription worthwhile.
6. Expand your background image across monitors
It's more a matter of personal preference. Some people want to see a single, uninterrupted image that spans multiple monitors connected to their Mac. If you use flat color instead of an image, or just prefer the same image on all monitors, then you don't have to worry.
The bad news is that there isn't a built-in method in macOS of stretching wallpapers across two monitors. The good news is that there are plenty of tools like Fresco and the simply named Multi Monitor Wallpaper that can do this for you. Just install one, run it and choose your wallpaper.
Work smarter on your Mac
Hopefully, these tips and powerful utilities will help you use your extra screen real estate effectively. A second (or third) monitor is a great way to increase productivity no matter what type of work you're doing. Well worth investing in if you haven't already.
11 little tips to make everyday tasks on your Mac easier
Do you want to work more efficiently on your Mac? Try implementing some of these small but useful changes to save a few minutes.
About the author
(116 published articles)
Kris Wouk is a musician, writer and whatever it is called when someone is making videos for the web. He's been a tech enthusiast for as long as he can remember, has definitely favorite operating systems and devices, but uses as many others as he can anyway just to stay updated.
By Kris Wouk
Subscribe to our newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter for tech tips, reviews, free e-books, and exclusive offers!
Click here to subscribe