My last column's discussion about multiple monitors resulted in a torrent of email from users who were already using multiple monitors, had just started using multiple monitors and had questions, or had been on the fence about the idea and were now planning to move ahead. Of the people that were already using multiple monitors, more than 80 percent wrote to tell me about their personal experiences and to recommend a software tool that made using more than one monitor even more rewarding. The tool is Realtime Soft's UltraMon ( http://www.realtimesoft.com/ultramon ).
With all those recommendations, I felt I had to give UltraMon a try. (The software downloads with a full-function 30-day trial period.) After using it for 2 weeks, I believe that it lives up to its billing and adds multiple-monitor functionality that's not available from any other product or the base OS.
My multiple-monitor setup is simple from a technical viewpoint because I use identical DVI monitors that are driven by a single PCI Express video card designed for multiple-monitor use. UltraMon supports using multiple monitors with different screen sizes and resolutions. This functionality makes adding a new larger monitor to an existing installation much simpler because the differences in the two monitors are masked, with the software seamlessly managing the different ways that the screen data appears. This seamless appearance makes using different monitors a much more satisfying experience.
Other functionality, such as screen-independent taskbars (i.e., each monitor gets a taskbar that shows only the applications that are running on that screen), makes using multiple applications quicker and helps keep your work processes organized. I've also found the software's Shortcuts feature, which lets you add context menu shortcuts that not only launch applications but predefine where the application will open, very useful. I've configured this feature to launch specific applications (e.g., network monitoring tools) to always open in the same place. Now when I launch the three tools I regularly use, they appear in a stacked configuration on my left monitor. Formerly, I would launch the applications, then have to rearrange the screen because they would open on top of each other. This functionality might not sound impressive, but it makes the work go more smoothly. You can configure screen positioning via your existing application shortcuts because the UltraMon Window tab appears in the properties dialog box of all your shortcuts.
The software's mirroring functionality is also very useful. While working with a client, I mirrored the presentation I had prepared onto the HDTV I use for presentations. The UltraMon software handled the different screen resolutions (1280 x 720 on the HDTV and 1920 x 1440 on the system's primary monitor) with no special effort on my part. And the client didn't have to hover over my shoulder watching the network diagrams on the computer screen; instead, he watched them on the 44" HDTV screen. For the $39.95 cost of the software, I can't imagine a utility more useful to multiple monitor users, nor one that I can more strongly recommend that they not be without.