A guide to setting up multiple monitors in Windows 8

So you want to set up multiple monitors to use with Windows 8? Well, that’s handy, as we’ve got some simple step-by-step instructions to do so right here. If you’ve got an old 19in monitor lying around, for example, perhaps you can find some use for it as a second display.

Windows 8’s support for multiple monitors lets you span a background image across screens (more appropriate for similar-size monitors), and you can invoke the charm icons on each screen, with forgiving target areas in the upper right corner of each.

The first thing you’ll need to do, of course, is plug that second monitor in. Naturally enough, you’ll need a video card which has more than one monitor port, whether that’s DVI or HDMI (or indeed VGA).

With that small but vitally important step taken, from the Windows 8 start screen (or Desktop), you need to invoke the charms – move your mouse to the top right corner, or swipe in from the right edge of the screen – then choose Devices. Now select Project.

You’ll be presented with the options shown in the right panel in the above image – select the option you want. PC screen only or Second screen only do as they say, only using the one monitor – primary or secondary. Duplicate means you’ll see the same thing on both monitors, and Extend spreads everything over both screens, so you can move items between the two.

New for Windows 8 is the ability to span a single wallpaper image across multiple screens – head to the Control Panel, and under Appearance and Personalisation, select Change Desktop Background. You can then select the Picture Position and set it to Span.

You can use the Taskbar Properties dialogue (right click on the taskbar, then select Properties) to display taskbars on each of your multiple screens. You can either just show taskbar buttons for apps running on the screen itself or all buttons. You can't, however, show the system tray on all monitors.

With the right-click options in the Desktop Background control panel shown in the above image – above the Picture Position box we just fiddled with in the paragraph before last – you can assign different background images to each of your displays.

The two-display setup in the above image shows a couple of Windows 8’s multi-monitor features – multiple taskbars and different background images on each.

Have fun with your multi-display shenanigans!