Hardware

Review: Actual Multiple Monitors

Actual Multiple Monitors from ActualTools gives you several multiple-display options beyond the basic operating system that make life with more than one display much more pleasant to deal with.

For many, a multiple monitor display has become a normal mode of operation. There are also numerous tools beyond the basic operating system available to help the multiple-monitor user manage their displays. One such tool is Actual Multiple Monitors from AcutalTools.

Specifications

Who is it for?

The Actual Multiple Monitors tool is designed for anyone using multiple displays and looking for ways to enhance and simplify the experience.

What problem does it solve?

The basic multiple display configuration tools found at the operating system level are notoriously inconsistent and often overly cumbersome to use. Actual Multiple Monitors simplifies the configuration, management, and day-to-day use of multiple monitors.

Features

  • Taskbar: Actual Multiple Monitors emulates the standard Windows taskbar across each monitor in the display. The taskbar reflects the applications being displayed on that monitor so they are easily accessible and visible at all times.
  • Title Bar button: One of the most innovative and time-saving features of Actual Multiple Monitors is the additional Title Bar button it adds to each application. With this extra button you can move your application to a different monitor with just one click.
  • Background and screensaver: For many users, it is important to have the proper background and screensaver running in their display. With Actual Multiple Monitors users can have different screensavers and background for each monitor in their multiple-monitor display.
  • Desktop saves: Once a user, or a network administrator for that matter, has the multiple-monitor display desktop they want, it can be saved as a profile and copied to another computer. This makes for easy replication across a department, division of even an entire enterprise - if you are running Actual Multiple Monitors system wide.

What's wrong?

  • Toolbar: For Microsoft Windows XP, I am a big fan of the across the top toolbar full of shortcuts to frequently used applications. If that toolbar could be extended to other monitors it would be a great feature. But as of this writing, Actual Multiple Monitors does not support that for the XP toolbar. Of course, this doesn't apply to Windows Vista which does not use the toolbar so for many the point is not relevant.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

Multiple-monitor displays are commonplace for many users in the enterprise and, therefore, they must be supported by IT departments. With the ability to save and then share desktop configurations, Actual Multiple Monitors can save these support professional time and reduce frustration for all involved.

User rating

Have you encountered or used Actual Multiple Monitors? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

8 comments
jerry
jerry

I've been using "Actual Tools" for a long time and generally like and have few problems. Of course the main use and the original reason I used it was the Windows Manager so that all windows opened in the same place at the same size all the time. Especially I.E. where you never know what place and size is going to open where. The multi-monitor program was great but I'm no longer using multi-monitors so haven't kept up with changes but it did work well for me when I was using it for 2 monitors. The total program has way to many options for me and I only use a few. The learning curve is steep and sort of hit and miss.

Return 0
Return 0

I'd like to let you know, that in version 2.0 of Actual Multiple Monitors, the toolbars was added, and also the system tray (aka notification area) mirroring.

rambo919
rambo919

the only thing i need thats not in anything so far as i know is a mousejail equivalent for vista/7, because of the hightened security i could not copy the file into the windows directory so i could not test it, and a way of stopping the monitors flickering with some games would be nice too

eandersen
eandersen

I installed it on Vista Ultimate 64bit. I liked the concept however found it wasn't very stable. It constantly closed the second taskbar and crashed the sidebar. I did like the 2nd taskbar and ability to seperate what was on each monitor, when it worked. I also tested the background stretching which it does by creating a bitmap version of your background, which creates a much much larger version of the original file. My 600kb .jpb grew to 16megs just to stretch the background, not worth it to me but that isn't why I would use this product. Hopefully they get it sorted out, it's possible they don't really support Vista 64 yet, I didn't see anything saying it didn't. When they get the product stable

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Multiple monitors at a single workstation are fairly commonplace, even in a business environment these days, what do you use to help manage multiple displays?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I have not tried it on a 64-bit system - the workstations here are still using trusty 32-bit XP. My current workstation has your basic ATI video card - a newer card with 64-bit drivers may also be causing some trouble. Thanks for the additional information.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

The windows or *nix built in stuff works fine. I've also used the ATI, nVidia or Matrox drivers to run 4 (sometimes more) monitors successfully. It just seems like one more piece of useless software for me to deal with. Factor in the fact that it costs money and ya lost me! But to each his own, many people prefer this. The guy that took my old position kept goofing the systems I setup and had it to where the screens were out of rotation and the cursor could only follow certain paths. I had 2-4 monitors all set up as one giant window able to move items about freely, which everyone loved enough to never mention it...until the new guy broke it. Like I said, to each his own but the regular old free or os settings always seemed pretty cut and dry to me.

eandersen
eandersen

The actual machine is a late '08 Mac Pro. I had hoped the software would work better in Vista64, I liked the 2nd task bar and splitting up what was running between them. It would be nice if Nvidia built some real stable drivers as well, the list could go on. Creative hasn't exactly been perfect with their XFi drivers. You really have to want to run Vista 64, and since I have 16gigs of memory I want it! But trust me, OS X Leopard isn't the crown of stability either. I could write a long story on OS X alone. Thanks for the article. Erik