HomeHome : News : Dec 06, 2011

Three Screens Update

December 6, 2011 — by Per Christensson

It's been exactly two weeks since I published my new iMac update. In that posting, I mentioned it took me about two weeks to fully acclimate to dual screens when I made the transition several years ago. I am happy to say that after two weeks, I have completely adjusted to having three screens and make use of all three screens throughout my workday.

I typically have iTunes open on the left screen and Apple Mail open on the right screen. I use the center screen as my primary workspace, which may contain Photoshop images, web pages in Dreamweaver, or web browser windows. Since I often have around 30 browser windows open at one time, the three large screens makes it much easier to organize the windows. (Yes, I know what browser tabs are, but I just don't like them.)

It took a few days to adjust my workspaces in Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and other programs to make full use of all three displays. But having three screens now allows me to display tool palettes on both sides of the central workspace, which is pretty awesome. Instead of stacking palettes, I can have all the palettes I want open at the same time. This was one of the reasons I wanted to try three screens, and I'm pleased it has worked out as well as I hoped.

While I use all three monitors, I should mention that I typically only use about two thirds of the left and right screens. It's unintentional, but I think I naturally keep open windows away from the edges of the auxiliary screens to maintain everything within my peripheral view. Therefore, I probably could have gotten away with smaller screens on the sides. However, having multiple screens with the same resolution is helpful because the mouse flows evenly from screen to screen and it's easy to switch to "Mirroring" mode without adjusting the resolution. Plus, the 27" Thunderbolt screens are fantastic. They use minimal cables and provide tons of extra USB and FireWire ports (many of which I am currently using). Having three built-in iSight cameras is a bit excessive, but it is fun to be able to switch between them during a video conference or FaceTime session.

I understand that three screens are probably not necessary for most people. In fact, it is probably excessive for a typical home computer. However, if you are a graphic designer, web developer, audio/video producer, or software developer, three screens can be beneficial. If you are considering moving to a workstation with three screens, I hope my personal account has been helpful.