Windows Vista: Changing Your Main Monitor (Using Two Monitors)

Archived Historical Data: Not Actively Maintained.

Two Monitor Configuration

1. When extending the desktop onto two monitors, it is usually configured like the picture below.  The main monitor is on the left and the secondary monitor is on the right. 

2. Notice that the Start Menu and Taskbar are displayed on the 'Main Monitor', which is on the Left in the example below. 

The main monitor, typically on the left.          The secondary monitor, typically on the right.

3. To Extend your Desktop to the second monitor, Vista: Extending Your Desktop onto a Second Display.

The secondary monitor, typically on the right.          The main monitor, typically on the left.

To Change the 'Main Monitor'

1. Right-click on a blank space anywhere on your Desktop.  (DO NOT Click on an icon or on the menu bar.)

2. Click Personalize.

Click on Personalize.

3. Click Display Settings.

Select Display Settings

4. Locate the 2 Numbered Black Boxes, located in the Display Settings window.  These boxes represent your 2 Monitors.

5. Click Identify Monitors.

5. The number 1 will display on one of the monitors, and the number 2 will appear on the other monitor.

Make sure that you have your display settings configured so that the black boxes line up with the numbers that appeared on your screen.

If a 1 is displayed on the monitor on the Left when you clicked Identify Monitors, drag the 1 box to the Left of the 2 box.

If a 2 appeared on your Left monitor, drag the 2 box to the Left of the 1 box. 

6. Decide which monitor you want to be your Main Monitor.  (The 'Main Monitor' is the one that has the Start Menu & Taskbar.)

Click on the monitor that you want to be the Main Monitor.

Check the box:  This is my main monitor.

Make sure you have the new monitor which you want to be your main monitor selected before you continue, otherwise the check box will be unavailable and grayed out if you select the monitor icon that is currently set as the primary monitor.

Note:   On some systems, the "This is my main monitor" check box is perpetually, and seemingly irrecoverably, grayed-out. This is most often caused by a video card issue.


1. Download the most recent Display Drivers for your specific Video Card.

2. Documentation from Microsoft on Troubleshooting multiple monitor problems.

Work Around:

If the problem still persists after exhausting all troubleshooting suggestions, there is a Manual Work Around.

1. When the Display is extended onto a screen 2, disable the Primary Monitor.

2. Vista should automatically snap the Primary Display onto the Active screen 2.

3. Go back into the Display Settings and ensure that the system is only recognizing the single connected monitor.

4. Reconnect the previous- Main Monitor and check the box next to:  "extend the desktop onto this monitor".

Choose display settings for your monitor here.

7. Click Apply. 

8. The Main Monitor configuration is complete.

6/4/2013 2:31:00 PM  

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