Windows 8: How To Use Multiple Monitors

Dennis Faas's picture

Here's an example of a question we've heard several times recently:

"Dear Infopackets team,

I'm thinking of upgrading to Windows 8. The problem is that I've heard using it over multiple monitors can be difficult. I find using two monitors very useful because I can write and use the web at the same time without needing to keep switching back and forth. Can you give me any insight?

George H."

My response:

Thanks for your email, George. Before I get to the way the new-look Windows 8 interface works with multiple monitors, let me just remind you that you can always switch to the traditional desktop mode by simply pressing the Windows key on your keyboard.

If you don't have that key, just click the desktop tile on the screen. In Windows 8's desktop mode, switching to multiple monitors is very similar to the process seen in Windows 7.

Interface: Windows 8 vs. Windows 7

The introduction of Windows 8's new interface (formerly known as "Metro"), affects the way you are able to use multiple monitors.

That's because Windows 8 treats applications differently depending on whether they are apps from the Windows Store or traditional desktop apps that you download from the developer or install from a disc.

In short, you can only have one of your monitors displaying apps downloaded from the Windows Store. Any other monitor you have open will automatically be in traditional desktop mode and will only let you run desktop apps.

These desktop apps will be in the traditional Windows format, meaning you can resize them and have multiple windows open on the screen.

If you want, you can have every screen running in traditional desktop mode; just switch the one with the "Metro screen" to desktop mode with the Windows key.

If you want to move apps from screen to screen, the controls are slightly different in Windows 8. To move a desktop app, click on the appropriate window to select it, then press the Windows key and the left or right arrows.

However, to move an app open in the new Windows 8 interface, press the Windows key and the up or down arrows. (Source:

Accessing Other Features Using Two Monitors

Some Windows 8 features work exactly the same whether you have screens open in the Windows 8 interface, desktop mode, or a mix of the two.

For example, take the new control system by which moving the mouse to a corner of the screen brings up a list of options, including the 'Charms' menu, Start screen, or list of recently used apps. This works the same way on every screen, whatever it is displaying. (Source:

You can have also have the traditional Windows taskbar open on all of your monitors at once (regardless of what interface each screen is using) to give you more information and control.

To take advantage of this feature , move your mouse to the top right corner of the screen to open the Charms menu, then select Search. From here type "taskbar" and click the Settings button.

From the list of results, click "Taskbar" and then look for the "Multiple displays" section and check the "Show taskbar on all displays" option before clicking OK.

All in all then, don't let multiple monitors put you off upgrading to Windows 8. In using the traditional desktop interface you can operate in exactly the same way as in Windows 7.

If you prefer the new Windows 8 interface, using multiple monitors will give you more options and control.

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