In my ongoing pursuit of a more awesome computer set up, I recently purchased a mini DVI to DVI adapter for my iMac. It’s a simple adapter that lets me hook my iMac up to just about any second monitor I might have lying around (in this case, a—gasp—Dell 15in from my old, old computer). Why is that exciting, or interesting, or worth writing a review about (unless it doesn’t work)? Because it lets me point out one of the many many features built into Leopard that many people may not even be aware of: Dual display support.
With your Mac, it’s incredibly easy to configure a multiple display setup. As soon as you plug in your second display your computer will detect it and you can then proceed to configure it with all kinds of cool options. When you have two screens and you go to the System Preferences, you will actually get two control panels when you select the display settings option—one on each screen. You can actually choose independent resolutions for each, or even have the two displays mirror each other, displaying the same thing. This option is great if you are presenting using keynote and want to see what the slides that are flashing up behind you are.
Where the Mac really shines is when you use the second display as an extended desktop. In this mode, you have just increased your useable workspace. Windows and files can be moved from one display to the other seamlessly. There are plenty of options for arranging the relative locations of the displays so that your Mac knows if the second display is to the left, right, above, or below the primary screen. You can even select different wallpapers for each display’s desktop. These are all features that I had to download or buy additional software to achieve on my older PCs. But they’re already built in to your Mac with Leopard!
Now, you may be asking, “why would I need a second display?” Here are some things that I do with my new dual display setup:
- Keep my IM chats all open and together on the secondary screen while I work on the main screen. (Also useful for the compulsive email checker)
- Watch a movie fullscreen on one monitor while surfing the web on the other. (Or chatting on the other)
- Referencing a website on the second screen while writing a paper on the main screen.
- Play World of Warcraft or other games in fullscreen mode and still being able to see chats or view a strategy website with out having to minimize. Never get killed because you were checking your email. (FYI You have to set the settings to windowed full screen for those of you trying to do this. If you do normal fullscreen it will blank out the screen you’re not playing on.)
- Bigger Dashboard for more widgets!
And my favorite use for a dual screen will get those VMware Fusion or Parallels users excited. I can run Windows full screen on one monitor, and still be working in Mac OS X on the other. Switching between applications in the two operating systems becomes as easy as sliding my mouse off screen.
If you’re like me and have an old display sitting around, then all these options open up for just the $20.99 of a small adapter. Who cares if the monitor is old and weak if you just want to have some extra windows open (my Dell looks awful next to the 24 inches of glory that is my iMac). This is definitely a capability worth taking advantage of. Check it out!