Use Multiple Monitors to Expand Your Microsoft Office Experience

A better way to compare documents in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Man using computer with two monitors

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Working in a single pane of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or other Microsoft Office programs is a good user experience: the user interface is good and you can take advantage of specialty panes and views.

But as soon as you add another window to compare two documents, or use two programs side by side, things feel crowded, fast. 

This is why some users of Microsoft Office may want to use more than one monitor screen. While you can also use Multiple Windows, as described in Tip 3 below, using multiple monitors is the only way to actually grow your screen area or real estate.

Setup varies depending on your desktop computer, but here are some general guidelines for working with additional screens in Microsoft Office programs.

Note: If you are working on a Mac, skip to Step 4.

What You Need

  • Microsoft Office — Keep in mind that older versions of Office may provide less flexibility and support for working in multiple screens, and may work differently for individual programs.
  • Multiple Monitor Screens.
  • Computer or device with multiple monitor inputs or a splitter to create multiple inputs.

Note that the following does not imply that you will be running two separate instances or sessions of the Office program, such as Word. Instead, this is how to have full-sized or larger-sized Windows of the same session running, so that you can see more than in a single-screen side-by-side view.

Here's How

  1. To turn on dual monitor support, first, make sure you are running Microsoft Windows 2000 with Service Pack 3 or later. As mentioned, the multiple monitor experience can vary depending on which version of Office you are running, so if you run into issues, you can try upgrading to a more recent version.
  2. Connect the two monitors to your computer or device, and turn the power on for each.
  3. Click Start > Settings > Control Panel > Appearance & Personalization > Screen Resolution > Display > Presenter's Monitor: Set to Monitor.
  4. For a Mac, you will also want to first make sure to first connect the two monitors to your computer and the Power is turned on.
  5. Click System Preferences > View > Displays > Arrangement > In the bottom left, disable Mirror Displays.

Tips for Using Multiple Monitors

  1. You may also need to set the program Options. Do this by selecting File > Options > Advanced. From there, look for Show All Windows in Taskbar (under the Display section). With this selected, you should be able to see the full Word interface in each window you are running. 
  2. In PowerPoint, you can run a presentation on two monitors. This gives the presenter additional options for showing content, adding in-presentation markup, or supplementing the core message with additional windows, such as an internet search. That said, this gets a bit tricky, so plan on working through it and practicing in advance, not as you stand up to deliver your message!
  3. You can also work with different Excel workbooks on multiple screens by starting Excel and opening the file as usual. Move this window so it is entirely on one monitor. Then, open Excel again. Open your second Excel file and minimize it so it is not full screen. Then you can move it to the other monitor.
  4. You will also probably want to refer to how to our article on using multiple, arranged, split, or side by side windows in Microsoft Office.