I love that my laptop allows me to work from anywhere in the world, but sometimes it’s frustrating. Bouncing back and forth from one tab to the other, trying to write an email while needing to look at an excel sheet, ugh. Sometimes it’s nice to sit down and work in my home office because I have a second screen!
What is a dual monitor setup?
A dual monitor setup is when you have one computer utilizing two screens. My preferred setup is using my laptop as one of the screens, and a desktop monitor as the other. Some people prefer to plug in their laptop, keep it shut, and have two desktop screens and a separate keyboard. This may work well for the office, but it isn’t always the most attractive option at home because it is a lot of extra equipment.
What are the benefits of a dual monitor setup?
1. Enhanced productivity
A study conducted by Microsoft concluded that adding a second screen can increase productivity from 9 to 50 percent!
“A 15″ laptop screen is about the size of one 8-by-11 sheet of paper. It’s not enough space. What if I took away your desk, and gave you one that was only 8-by-11? How easy would it be for you to work?”
2. Better multitasking
With a second screen, you no longer have to waste time switching between tabs and resizing windows to fit the limited space. For example, designers can utilize one screen for sourcing items and the other for creating mood boards. A dual monitor makes completing multi-faceted projects a breeze!
3. Easier Video Conferences
Dual monitors allow you to have your video conferencing open on one screen, and still work full screen on the other monitor. This is helpful for taking notes during meetings or presenting decks. It keeps all the programs organized, allowing you to focus on the tasks at hand. It eliminates the need for alternating between tabs and scrolling up and down as you work.
4. Product Comparison
If you’re making a purchase online that requires a careful comparison of specifications, you can easily look at the product pages side by! This takes a lot of frustration out of the buying process, allowing you to make a decision faster & with greater satisfaction.
Dual monitors benefit almost every industry! You don’t have to be a computer programmer or a movie editor to feel your work is improved by dual monitors. If you haven’t tried a dual monitor setup before, give it a go! It just may keep you working in your home office & away from the couch.
What are the negatives of a dual-monitor setup?
1. Potential For Distractions
One of the negatives to having multiple screens is the added risk of distractions.
If you choose to keep social media open on the second screen or watch a show, this may hinder your productivity.
2. It Takes Up Desk Real Estate
If you’re someone who likes to spread out papers over your desk and have a lot of extra room, a second monitor may cramp your style. However, if your desk is against a wall, you have the option to mount your second screen on the wall like a TV to save space on your desk. This option can end up looking very chic if you hide the cords and choose a slim monitor.
3. More Equipment = More Money
There are some very affordable monitor options out there, but they may not be the sleekest looking. If you’re unsure if you even like working with a second screen, I’d recommend buying a cheap monitor off of eBay and trying it out before committing. If you like it, then you’ll be more willing to make the investment in the monitor that appeals to you and fits in with your home office’s style.
4. The Monitor Roundup
Some sleek monitor options for your home office!
How to Use an iMac Computer as a Second Screen
I have a second monitor at work, but I did not have a monitor in my home office for a long time. Why you ask? Because I didn’t want to have an “ugly” monitor in my space. This may sound silly to some, but hey, it’s the truth. My office is behind a set of glass french doors when you walk upstairs. My desk is centered in the room, facing towards the french doors. I didn’t want an unattractive monitor to be the first thing I saw when I walked into my apartment every day. This began my quest to find the perfect home monitor for the space.
There are a lot of great monitors out there in terms of functionality, but no one in the tech world can beat Apple when it comes to design, MacBooks and iMacs are pretty sleek. If you have a MacBook as your laptop, you may want to use an iMac as your second screen in your home office. They look chic from all angles.
If you’re saying to yourself, “that sounds expensive”, don’t worry! There are plenty of second-hand or refurbished iMacs on eBay that will work perfectly as a second monitor. It is a separate computer, so you could even use it if you leave your laptop at work, or if your kids need a computer from time to time. This option may sound fancy, but if you find the right deal on eBay, it may end up being cheaper than a new monitor.
Tips For Selecting an iMac on eBay as a Second Screen
- Make sure that the model you are purchasing will work. I had no idea that the type of iMac mattered when I was looking for one on eBay, I only thought the operating system mattered. I purchased an iMac for $65 (yes that was all)! It came looking brand new. I turned it on and the computer functioned like I just bought it from the store. I was so excited to buy the dongles to connect my MacBook to it and get it working. The dongles arrived from Amazon, I followed all of the instructions that I could find online, but it just wasn’t working! I installed the latest software on both computers and did all of the troubleshooting. I even bought a new keyboard. Still my MacBook would not display. At the time there were no in-depth articles on this. Then I found deep on a forum in some corner of the internet the following, “Yes an iMac will work as a screen, but only with 27″ models of Late 2009, 2010 iMacs. If those conditions are met then the iMac supports what is called Target Display Mode, aka using your iMac as a display.” I looked at the specs of the iMac I had purchased and it was manufactured in Early 2009! I couldn’t believe my luck. Sometimes eBay listings of iMacs do not have the year they were manufactured, so make sure you verify with the seller before purchasing. I would purchase one from 2011 or later, just to be safe.
- Make sure you have a separate keyboard and mouse to use when the iMac arrives. This was something I did not think of when I purchased an iMac on eBay. Luckily I had an old keyboard and mouse that I could plug into the USB ports on the back. The mouse is essential, because even if you have a wireless mouse that you want to use, you can’t navigate to the bluetooth bar to connect the wireless mouse without a mouse that is plugged into the computer. If you do not have these items, borrow them from work, or from a friend. There are plenty of cheap used keyboards and mouses on eBay or Craigslist as well. If you’re thinking, “I’ll just use the keyboard on my MacBook when I hook it up, I don’t need a keyboard”, unfortunately that is not the case. To make this dual screen magic work, you need to press Press Command + F2 on the keyboard of the computer that you want to use as a display to enter Target Display Mode. In this case, we would want to use the iMac as the display screen, so we’ll need a keyboard.
- Look for the mis-listed items. When searching eBay, make sure to search for different queries than iMac. I had no idea what I was searching for when I decided that I wanted an iMac as a second screen. This may sound laughable to some, but I thought Apple made monitors as well, I didn’t realize that every iMac I saw on eBay was a full computer! Clearly I had no idea what I was doing, therefore I had no idea what I was searching for. I searched for “Apple Monitor.” The listing that I ended up winning came up. It was listed as “Apple Monitor” and the starting bid was $45. The person selling the iMac had no idea what they were selling, and I had no idea what I was buying. Because I bid on an item that wasn’t listed specifically, there was little to no competition. Even though I ended up with an iMac that didn’t fit my needs because of the year it was manufactured, I sold it on Craigslist for 3x what I paid. Not a bad mistake!
How to Setup an iMac as a Second Screen
Here are some great resources to use as you set up the iMac as your second screen. Everyone’s laptop is different, so you may have to do some searching on Google to fit your specific needs. Though there is a little extra legwork involved with finding the iMac and buying the correct dongles, it is so worth it in the end! If you are a visual person, it is nice to walk into your office and see technology that blends seamlessly with your space. Form and function always win.
Alternate Monitor Options
If you’re not sold on any of the monitors above or using an iMac as your second screen, then there are some alternative options out there. One size does not fit all! You may want a different look for your space or something that is not used often.
The Samsung Frame TV
If you’d like to mount a second screen on the wall of your office, but don’t want to look at a black screen when it’s not in use, the Samsung Frame TV may be a good option.
“Artwork, television, movies, and memories – The Frame showcases them all on a beautiful QLED screen. Every piece of content is displayed in stunning 4K resolution and accented by a customizable, stylish bezel that seamlessly complements your home’s décor.”
- It’s a TV! If your office is within a living space or a bedroom, a TV may be well suited as your second monitor due to its dual functionality. A TV as a monitor is a great solution for multi-use spaces.
- Fits seamlessly into the design of your office as it has the ability to transform the screen into any piece of art.
- You can mirror your device to the screen (check your device’s compatibility before making the purchase). Sometimes smart TV’s do not work well, or at all, when asked to mirror with an Apple device. If you have a MacBook, you could always mirror your screen using Apple TV.
- It’s a TV! It is not optimized to be used as a computer. Computer monitors are built to minimize input lag, but TVs are not. The functionality may not be as seamless as a computer monitor. If you use your second screen as reference, and do not move back and forth between the two frequently, having a TV as a second screen should work well. This would not be the recommendation for someone dragging information back and forth from one program to the other on separate screens.
- Some television screens are too big to use as computer monitors. The rule of thumb is to sit one foot away for every ten inches of screen size. For example, if you’re watching TV on a 40″ screen, sit about 4 feet away. This helps prevent eye strain and posture issues, and ensures that you’ll get a full view. Computer work tends to be very close work, so using a large TV screen will likely interfere with your ability to sit a safe distance away, plus it’ll be difficult to see everything on the screen.
A projector in your home office is a great option if you do not want the bulky look of the second monitor in your space.
- It’s a desktop space safer! All you need is a handy white wall.
- There are small, affordable options that are portable. You could take your projector on the go, allowing you to present to groups anywhere, or use it in another room of your house.
- If your office is too bright, it may be difficult to see the screen. Make sure the projector you choose is rated for brighter rooms.
- Some models may not mirror your computer wirelessly or have an HDMI cord, so be sure to make sure your computer is compatible before purchasing.
If you feel like a projector is right for you, we recommend taking a look at the Anker Nebula Capsule:
- Connects to your home wifi or home hotspot
- Support Airplay & Mirror Cast
- Has an HDMI port
- Battery lasts up to 4 hours
- Has built-in speakers, that you can connect to using bluetooth
- Has built in apps for streaming
If you don’t want to shell out the cash for a second monitor but have an iPad handy, you can put it to use as your second screen! Check out this awesome article on how to use your iPad as a second monitor.
- Compact & sleek, it will fit the design of any home office
- It is easy to take on the go, allowing you to set up dual screens in a coffee shop or a hotel room when you’re traveling
- It is small, there may not be enough real estate on your iPad to make it useful as a second screen, depending on what your needs are
- It takes a little bit of effort to set up. It’s not as easy as plugging in a HDMI port to your laptop.