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Dual Monitors? Dual Images!


For those of you who have two monitors, and want to display a different image on each one, here's a neat little treat. It used to be that the only way you could have seperate images on your monitors was with a resource hogging desktop manager that noticably slowed system performance in a lot of cases. For us gamers, this is unacceptable. But I came across a little known trick that requires no additional software, and works like a charm! It just takes a little bit of knowledge in your favorite graphics program (Photoshop, Paint Shop, etc.), a couple of background images you like, and the steps I list below. And for those of you who don't have any graphics experience, I've included a couple of background images that are ready to go. Just download them, follow the steps, and you're set!

Ok, first off, you need a pair of images you want to use. It's a good idea make sure the size of the images are the same as the resolution of the monitor you want to use. For example, my monitors both have a resolution of 1280 by 1024 pixels, so both images I use are that size. Since I happen to like astronomy, and images pertaining to NASA's shuttle program, most of my desktop backgrounds involve these types of images, and these are what I have available below. if you prefer something a little different, feel free to choose something that better suits your style. :D

Now that you have the images you want, all you have to do is combine them into one big image. It's that simple. The steps I'll be outlining are for using Paint Shop Pro 7 (I'm too cheap to buy a more updated version), but the steps are similar for Photoshop.

(Please note that if you have monitors with different resolutions, you can still use the same method. I'll get into how to compensate in a moment.)

If your monitors are the same size, you simply start out by creating a blank image that's twice as wide as the images you want to use, but the same height. For example, with a desktop resolution of 1024 x 768, you create a new image that's 2048 x 768. Now, open both the images you've chosen. If you have a preference as to which one you want on the left-hand monitor, pick that one first. "Copy" that image (CTRL-C or Edit>copy) and select the new image and "Paste" it in (For PSP it's CTRL-E or Edit>Paste as new selection). Make sure to position it so that the upper left corner is exactly at the upper left corner of the new image. You CAN experiment with borders and such, but I'm just outlining the basic principle here, so just follow along for now.

Ok, now you should have the first half of the image done. You have a nice pic on the left, and a gaping emptiness on the right. More or less, you just repeat the process with the other image, making sure to align the top-left corner of the second image with the top-right corner of the first. Save the new image in a handy place (I place my wallpaper images in "My documentsMy PicturesWallpapers"), and move on to the next step.

Now, for those of you with monitors of differing sizes, the only differences are as follows:

  1. The new image should be the width of the 2 images, side by side (e.g 1024 x 768 and 800 x 600, add 1024 + 800 = 1824 for the new width)
  2. The height of the new image should be the same height as the largest image (e.g 768, using the above example)
  3. The new image will have one lower corner that has empty space in it. This is to be expected, and won't show up, if you arranged the images correctly. Please note that the left half of the image will correspond to the monitor that your computer shows as the one on the left, no matter what the sizes are. See the image below for clarification.

Ok, now that we have our new wallpaper image, let's get it set up. On an empty section of your desktop, right-click and select "Properties".

Hit the "Desktop" tab, then hit the "Browse" button, and navigate to where you saved your image. Select it, and hit "Ok". Then choose "Tile" from the selectbox below the Browse button. This is the crucial step, as none of the other options will allow the image to display correctly. Then select a compatible background color, and hit "Apply" or "Ok". The properties window should look something like the image below:

If, for some reason the background images on monitors of different sizes seem to be out of place, you have two options. you can either re-create the image, reversing the positions of the images this time, or you can go to the "Settings" tab on the Display Properties window, and drag the monitor that's on the right, over to the left. Each has it's hassles and advantages, so pick whichever you want. You can always undo it and try the other, if you don't like the results.

Well, that's pretty much it. It's a reasonably simple thing to do, and it nets great results. As promised, I have some nice images below that you can use right out of the gate. The first six are for monitor resolutions of 1280 x 1024, while the last two are for resolutions of 1680 x 1050. I can also resize these images on a limited basis, on request. Also, if you need help making the wallpaper images you want, use my contact page to send me a note, and I'll get back to you. Have fun, and I hope this helps!