I have been using dual-monitors since I got into IT. I have used them so long that it's hard to go back to a single monitor. On my home computer I only have a single monitor, but my wife mainly uses that one anyway. One of these days I'll introduce her to the power of multiple displays as well.
Back to the point though, I've been using dual monitors for a very long time, and almost that entire time I haven't been able to use them without a lovely little utility called Ultramon. The only problem with Ultramon is that it is not free. True, it's only a nominal $40 to use, but I prefer to use freeware when I can. The only viable free alternative the the over-priced Ultramon that I have found is called Zbar.
What I like about both Ultramon and Zbar is that they both provide additional task bars for your multiple screens, and allow you to control the wallpaper for multiple screens. Want a different picture for both screens? Boom, you got it! Want one giant picture stretched across all screens? Bada bing! You have that too!
From their page:
If you have two or more monitors, then Windows only puts the task bar at the bottom of one of those monitors, and although you can move windows to the second monitor, the task bar button for those windows still lives at the bottom of the primary monitor. This doesn't "feel" right to me, so ZBar was born.
- Put a taskbar across the top or bottom of all non-primary screens with one or two rows of buttons, in six styles, with an optional clock
- Provide keyboard shortcuts to move windows one screen along
- Organize your desktop wallpaper one image per screen or one image across all screens
- Display a six month calendar, last month, this month, and four months ahead
Here is a screen shot of my work desktop using Zbar (Click for full size):
I do have to say that the quality of the task bar in Ultramon is way better. It seamlessly matches whatever Windows theme you got going on. With Zbar I had to tweak the settings and the colors to get it to look like it matched. Plus the icons in the task bar look a bit clunky compared to Ultramon. Also, Zbar doesn't get installed. It is a self-running executable and if you want to run it at system start, you have to create a shortcut for it and drop it in your startup folder.
Besides those negatives, if you want to save $40 for something more important like beer, then Zbar is certainly good enough!
Know of any other alternatives to Ultramon? Are they free? What do you like to use? Let us know in the comments.