Two or three external monitors on the Mac - does that really make sense?

Anyone who works on the go or who has just set up a home office may be familiar with this: the single screen of an iMac, MacBook or iPad is simply not enough for a lot of work. When work, research, a creative project or something else involves multiple windows, apps and documents, you simply need more space and a better overview. But how useful are two or three external monitors on the Mac? When does the concentrated work on one display become too much distraction from multiple displays? Here is an attempt to explain.

Coding, online research, copywriting, image editing or monitoring a rocket launch - there are many areas in which multiple monitors mean higher productivity.

Coding, online research, copywriting, image editing or monitoring a rocket launch - there are many areas in which multiple monitors mean higher productivity.

Two monitors: users often do not want to go back to the "single screen"

Angela Lashbrook from OneZero used an investigation in her own environment and a survey on Twitter to investigate the “multi-mon” phenomenon, ie the use of two or more monitors on the computer. In your Post it shows that working on such a setup can be much more productive than working on a single screen. 

The space is not too important. Although the screen of a large TV can also be split up, most multi-mon users use the various (small or medium-sized) monitors to place different apps, documents, chat tools, etc. Very few people want to go back from two to one monitor display.

An example from blog practice: research and writing

Also for work on Sir Apfelot a MacBook Pro with an additional monitor is ideal. Sources, pages of your own blog for noting internal links, apps and more can be displayed on the larger monitor. Pages or Word are then open on the MacBook to write down the researched information, the steps to be taken in a software and its settings or other explanations. 

Each display can also be further divided. While the laptop is already full with two windows in Split View, there is room for another two to three windows on a larger image output device. In addition to the text, the images for contributions can also be selected, edited and saved more quickly with two displays. In addition, there is mail organization, navigation on the hard drive and in the cloud, and much more.

Tip: Use old iMac as monitor on Mac / MacBook

Multiple external monitors on the Mac: isn't that distracting?

An important point when working with external monitors is: keeping things tidy. You should not clutter your desk (macOS) or desktop (Windows) with files, folders and shortcuts, nor should unnecessary windows, apps and programs be open. Productivity increases when using two instead of one screen; But if there is a third one, for example, on which only Facebook, Twitter and Co. are open, then productivity also drops again. 

The number of display devices used should therefore be justified by the work done on them, the creative area in which one is active, or other extensive use of the computer. If you find in your setup that you need more space to display content, then take a look here: The best monitors of 2019 in the test by Wirecutter.com. If you notice that one of the displays is distracting you, say goodbye to the superfluous device.

Apple compatibilities: Apple Sidecar - iPad as Mac display

Conclusion: The multi-mon setup can increase productivity

If you don't have to click through all the open windows to find what you are looking for, because you could distribute all apps and tools clearly on different monitors, this has a positive effect. Working on a blog post, on a report that is important for the company, on a creative project or other complex things is quicker.

A setup that is too big can also be confusing and distracting. So before you start connecting as many monitors as possible to your Mac, Mac mini, iMac or MacBook, first see how many pixel areas are actually useful for what you are doing. For researching information and writing articles, I personally recommend two pieces.

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2 comments

  1. Julian says:

    Hello Sir Apfelot,
    How do I connect a second monitor to the Mac?
    How do I set up a split screen? A successful, tried and tested implementation would help me a lot as a volunteer supervisor. Monitor is already available, how did you do that via the USB hub (software under Catalina).

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello julian! You will not be able to control a second monitor via a normal USB port. You need a USB-C port for this, which can be found on the more recent Macs. Older Macs typically use a mini DP to HDMI cable. So it depends on which Mac and which monitor you have.

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