Actual Multiple Monitors Review

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Attaching secondary displays seems to have no hidden catches. You get extra screen estate and consequently improved productivity – what could possibly be wrong with it? But that’s until you realize that Windows (even if it’s the latest Windows 7) is not so eager to provide its rich window and desktop management capabilities for multi-monitor environment. Its uber-convenient taskbar with the Start button and task switcher are available at primary display only.

General Taskbar

And that’s where Actual Multiple Monitors shines in all its glory. Designed to make life easier for multi-monitor configuration users, this small software utility provides secondary displays with all window and desktop management features we’re used to – and more.

Unlike the other third-party solutions which only give you some of the features you crave, Actual Multiple Monitors offers a comprehensive set of tools to make your workflow in multi-monitor environment smoother and eliminate annoying distractions. Emulated fully functional taskbar, desktop profiles, additional hotkeys and title bar buttons, advanced window and desktop management options – they are all here at your disposal, saving your time and effort.

Taskbar and Task Switcher Emulation: Bring Convenient Features to All Screens

Actual Multiple Monitors accurately emulates Windows taskbar complete with almost all its bells and whistles on each of the secondary displays. It duplicates Start button, system tray and the essential controls. If you are using Windows 7, you’ll find that AMM also supports the new features presented in the operating system, such as Pin to Taskbar, Jump Lists, live window previews and Aero Peek.

Multi Monitor Taskbar Options

There is also good news for those Windows XP/2003 users who envy Vista’s Window Thumbnails service: Actual Multiple Monitors has it! If you need to find a particular window among those crammed in your taskbar you won’t have to open them one by one – just mouse over the window tab to get a preview.

Depending on your preferences you can either choose Mirror mode, in which all the windows (regardless of the monitor) are displayed on each taskbar, or stick with the default Individual mode where a taskbar displays only the windows from the same monitor.

And, thanks to Actual Multiple Monitors, that small but essential helper we call task switcher (small window that appears when you press Alt-Tab) is also available on all the displays connected to your computer.

Multi Monitor Task Switcher

Multi-Monitor Background Wallpaper and Screensaver: Make Each Monitor Distinguishable

If having the same wallpaper image and screensaver on all of your displays doesn’t satisfy you (which is only natural), you may want to consider the options offered by Actual Multiple Monitors. The software enables you to either stretch the picture over all of the desktops thus creating the integral workspace, or select individual wallpaper and screensaver for each display for better differentiation.

Multi Monitor Background Wallpaper Options

Multi Monitor Screensaver Options

What is more, you can set a slideshow as a background – and again, you will be offered either to stretch it over the multi-screen desktop, to choose individual slideshow for each screen, or to leave some monitors with wallpapers while the others will be displaying slideshows.

Multi Monitor Wallpaper Slideshow Options

Desktop Profiles: Change Desktop Settings in a Couple of Mouse Clicks

Windows OS allows it users to change desktop settings, including the number of displays, their relative layout and each display’s resolution, refresh rate and primary or secondary status. However, when you change desktop configuration regularly (say, you connect your laptop or change monitor placement) applying each of the settings separately gets rather time-taking. Besides, when you change display resolution Windows sometimes messes with your icon layout making you either to restore it manually or to get used to this enforced new order each time.

To avoid these inconveniences you can use Actual Multiple Monitors desktop profiles. The profiles allow you to pre-define all the settings listed above and apply them at once.

Desktop Profiles Settings

You can switch between profiles via context menu:

Desktop Profiles Context Menu

As for desktop icon order, it can be restored just as quickly and easily. For those preferring keyboard the developers wisely added corresponding hotkeys.

Save Restore Icon Order

Advanced Window Management: Speed Up and Automate

Moving windows from one display to another can be plain inconvenient, especially if there just isn’t enough space for your mouse to drag the window in a single movement. And it certainly isn’t fast enough with all this dragging and dropping, your mouse pointer traveling there and back again a dozen times.

As you may have guessed, Actual Multiple Monitors has a solution for this. It adds extra button  Move To Monitor Button to window’s title bar so that you could move a window to the second monitor with one click. If the number of your monitors exceeds two, the special preview dialog appears to choose the destination display:

Move To Monitor Preview Dialog

Next to this one there is one more extra button Maximize To Desktop Button enabling you to expand a window across all the monitors (as opposed to the regular Maximize button which expands the window over its current display only). The command is also accessible via hotkeys. Right click on this button will display the special dialog which allows selecting a subset of monitors to maximize a window to:

Maximize To Desktop Preview Dialog

If you always use each monitor for specific tasks, you’ll be delighted to find that Actual Multiple Monitors has a feature for this, too. You can select the apps to be automatically placed to the specified monitors, which is most helpful for creating certain environment – working, monitoring, gaming, you name it.

Specific Window Settings

Desktop Mirroring: Know What’s Going On

Mirroring feature comes in especially handy when the monitors from the same configuration sit far from each other, when there are too many of them, and when you are too preoccupied with what’s going on in the certain monitor to divert your attention to the other ones.

The feature allows you to follow specified monitor(s) or areas by displaying a mirror in a separate window on the selected monitor. You can create a mirror window for specified window or monitor, some desktop area or the area around the mouse pointer. If something attracts your attention and you want to take a closer look (but don’t want to switch to the other monitor), you can zoom the mirrored image. Update time for the mirror can be customized.

Mirroring Settings

Ignore Deactivation: Watch and Game without Interruptions

Compared to all the previously mentioned features, Ignore Deactivation may seem minor at first sight. This one makes selected window ignore deactivation, so that when you switch to some other task said window still acts as an active one. You come to fully appreciate its importance when you have a game or a movie running full-screen on the first monitor, and you want it stay full-screen while you work with other windows on the second monitor. The catch is that most of media players exit the full-screen mode when you switch to another window, and the most of games minimize automatically upon losing the focus.

With the Ignore Deactivation feature, you can force such windows stay full-screen. This is especially useful when minimizing and restoring current window would be too time-taking (which is usually the case with resource-intensive games).

Conclusion

Designed to save your time and make your life easier when managing multiple monitors, AMM does its job wonderfully. With its extensive set of features, Actual Multiple Monitors is the best in its league (as proven by the large number of users switching to this software from some other not-so-comprehensive solutions). Make sure of it on your own – download it, install and forget of all the problems you’ve had with your multi-monitor configuration.

Soumya is the admin and founder of Techcular. He loves to discover and learn new things on Internet. You can find him writing on his personal blog few times.

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