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How to Control What Multiple Displays Do on Windows 10

by Steve Smith

Windows can use multiple displays in several ways, extending or duplicating your primary monitor. You can even turn off your primary monitor. Here’s how to change secondary display settings with a simple keyboard shortcut.

Using the Windows + P “Project” Menu

To quickly change how Windows 10 handles multiple displays, press Windows + P.

A dark-gray menu titled “Project” will pop up on the right part of your screen. (That’s “project” as in projector, not “project” as in a task people work on together.)

From here, you can use the mouse or cursor keys and Enter to choose the option you’d like. Here’s what the options do:

  • PC screen only: This mode only shows video on the primary display, even if a second one is connected.
  • Duplicate: This mode duplicates the video output from the primary display onto a second display, which can be ideal for presentations.
  • Extend: This mode extends the desktop across as many displays as you have connected. It stitches them all into one large virtual desktop, and you can move windows between them.
  • Second screen only: This mode only shows video on the second display, while the primary display remains blank and unused.

Examples of When to Use Each Project Option

With the options listed above in mind, let’s take a look at four common multiple display scenarios and examine how these options can help:

Scenario 1: PowerPoint Presentation

You have a laptop connected to a digital projector in a lecture hall, business meeting, or church, and you’d like to display the contents of your screen through the projector. In this case, you’d want to choose Duplicate mode from the Windows+P Project menu. Next, start up your presentation program as usual, and the audience will see exactly what you see on your computer screen.

Scenario 2: Desktop Power User

You have two or more monitors to give you more screen real estate for productivity purposes, such as software development, video editing, stock trading, or music production. In this case, you’d want to use the Extend mode from the Windows+P Project menu, so you can see as much information as possible at once. You can even move windows between monitors with a keyboard shortcut.

Scenario 3: Laptop Monitor Replacement

You have a work laptop that you’d like to use at home with a large monitor, but you don’t need the laptop’s built-in display. You can even configure the laptop to stay running with the lid closed, and use an external keyboard and a mouse. In this case, you’d want to pick Second screen only mode from the Windows + P Project menu.

Scenario 4: Family Movie Night

It’s movie night, and you have a new video projector that you’d like to use to watch a film from your PC. In this case, you can use Duplicate or Second screen only mode from the Windows + P Project menu. If the projector has a different native resolution than your display, then “Second screen only” may work better because Windows will adapt the output perfectly to the projector instead of trying to stretch your primary display’s resolution to fit.

More Multi-Display Tips

If you don’t have a spare monitor but have a PC with a built-in display, you can potentially use it as second monitor with a wireless technology called Miracast built into Windows 10. And, for more info on working productively with multiple-monitor setups, check out our in-depth guide to taking advantage of dual monitors. Have fun, and enjoy the view!

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