What to Do When One of Your Dual Monitors Stops Working
You have two monitors connected to your Windows XP PC and one suddenly stops working. Any windows you have open on that monitor cannot be seen and to make the problem worse, it may be your primary monitor so the task bar with the start button and clock and all your desktop icons are now out of reach.
First things first: Make sure it has power. The power cord could be loose on either end, ensure it is properly connected. Also, cycle the power switch a couple of times on the monitor to see if has become intermittent.
Next, make certain that the signal cable is secure. Sometimes these will become loose and the monitor will go into sleep mode.
If you have determined that the monitor just isn't going to be revived and you need to access your system here are some helpful tips:
We will assume a worst case scenario here; the only monitor working has nothing on it but a blank desktop background.
1. Right click on the desktop background and choose properties from the pop-up menu that appears by left clicking on the word 'properties'
2. Press and Hold the 'Alt' key and tap the spacebar one time. This selects a hidden menu that will allow you to move that property window which we must imagine is hiding on the nonworking monitor.
3. Press the letter 'M' key on the keyboard. This locks the window into a move mode. You can now use the arrow keys and your mouse to move the window into view as if we are sliding it from the nonworking monitor to the working monitor. If you are going to use your mouse to move the window, you must press at least one arrow key first to lock the cursor to the window.
4. Choose the Settings tab by left clicking on it.
5. Press the 'Identify' button by left clicking on it. This will help you determine which monitor is working and how it is referenced in the settings. Click on the graphical representation of that monitor. If you saw a large 1 click on the 1, if you saw a large 2, click on the 2.
6. Make sure both boxes have check marks next to "Use this Device as the Primary Monitor" and "Extend my Windows Desktop Onto This Monitor". If necessary, click on the graphical icon for the nonworking monitor and uncheck both of these boxes. IMPORTANT: Before clicking apply, we must first ensure that the computer will not restart itself.
7. Click on the 'Advanced' button. If you do not see the Advanced window, use the same technique as shown in 2 & 3 above to bring it into view. Select the center option labeled "Apply the new display settings without restarting" . Click OK. This will take you back to the 'display properties' and now you can click 'Apply'. A timer box may pop up asking if you wish to keep these settings, choose 'yes'.
Those seven steps should now make your working monitor the primary display so you can take your nonworking monitor in for repairs.
Here is a quick tip to get hidden windows on to your primary screen when they are 'off-screen' either because of a failed monitor or a display resolution change:
1. Right Click on the task-bar (that is the blank part between the start button on the lower left and the clock on the lower right). Make sure you click where there is no other icons, it must be a blank area. A pop-up menu will appear.
2. Select 'Cascade Windows' from the list by left clicking on it. This will bring all the windows from off-screen and stack them onto your primary desktop.
3. Optional: If you only have a few windows open, you may wish to repeat 1 & 2 and select 'Tile Windows Horizontally' or 'Tile Windows Vertically' so that you can see the contents of each window properly organized on the screen.
I hope these tips prove useful for you as they have saved me many, many times over the years. This is especially true when the work needs saved but it was open on the failed monitor. It is also true when a high resolution monitor has been changed for a lower resolution. Windows that are opened and closed at a position on the screen will be reopened to that position the next time they are opened. If the monitor has been changed, then those windows can actually open 'off-screen' where you can't see them. This gives the illusion that you have a program that isn't responding when in fact it is happily being displayed out of view.
H. W. Gramm
on Dec 25, 2009 | Computers & Internet