Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Win8 problem with two monitors

  1. #31


    Posts : 31
    Win8 Home


    Some vexing details when using an HDMI connection from a Windows8 computer/PC to watch TV.
    This is nuts

    When you plug in the HDMI cable from your PC to the TV, Windows8 will automatically set up two monitors. The problem is that the monitors are setup in extend mode instead of duplicate/clone mode.

    Extend mode is two monitors side-by-side making a very wide desktop where you can drag a window off the side of one monitor and onto the other monitor. Duplicate mode is two cloned monitors where you see the same thing on both monitors.

    Windows8 has a desktop interface for running Windows7 desktop Apps and a metro interface for running fullscreen touchpad Apps. Usually these interfaces are merged together. Now get this By default (when you plug in that HDMI cable) Windows8 gives you two Extend mode monitors with the Desktop on the TV and the Metro Apps on the PC.

    Worse yet. You need to use a desktop app (Control-Panel/Display/Change Display Settings) in order to switch from extend mode to duplicate mode. But guess what? Your desktop is gone, it may be on your TV in another room, or it may be gone completely if you had any common HDMI cabling issues.

    Heres what I had to do. I sent my wife into the TV room while I controlled the mouse at my PC. She gave me the verbal mouse movement cues such as (Up, Up, Up, Right, Right, Up a little more, Click). With verbal mouse movement cues we were able to pull down the Extend mode selection, change it to Duplicate, and then mouse over to click the Apply button.

    Voila! Done. It is obvious to me that no Microsoft engineer has ever watched TV from his/her computer.

    Oh, a tip to recover from a lost desktop if you are stuck. Just unplug the HDMI cable and start over.

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #32


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    You can launch Metro from any monitor when in extend mode. You can also launch the desktop from any monitor. If I click the Start Orb on any one of my 3 monitors Metro opens on that monitor. Once launched I can drag it over to another monitor if I want. My desktop expands across all 3 monitors and I can access it from any of the 3 monitors. I can run desktop programs on all three at once if I want and move them from monitor to monitor. I can switch back and forth from Metro to the desktop on all three monitors no problem.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #33


    Posts : 31
    Win8 Home


    Quote Originally Posted by alphanumeric View Post
    You can launch Metro from any monitor when in extend mode. You can also launch the desktop from any monitor. If I click the Start Orb on any one of my 3 monitors Metro opens on that monitor. Once launched I can drag it over to another monitor if I want. My desktop expands across all 3 monitors and I can access it from any of the 3 monitors. I can run desktop programs on all three at once if I want and move them from monitor to monitor. I can switch back and forth from Metro to the desktop on all three monitors no problem.
    Im sure you can do all this. After you have already setup multiple monitors.

    Lets talk about before multiple monitor setup. I would send my wife over to the TV room. Then she would give me mousing cues (Left, Left, More, Down, Down) to get to the Start Orb on the desktop that is on the TV in the other room. Then more mouse cues to get to the (Control-Panel/Display/Change Display Settings window) and then drag that window over to my computer monitor?

    And what if I didn't have a wife? You can't get a girlfriend to do this kind of stuff!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #34


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    Duplicate would be better in this situation. The Start Orb is available on both monitors. If you mouse down to the lower left corner of any monitor it will show. Click it and metro will launch on that monitor without having to drag it over. If you right click the taskbar and go to properties there is an option to "Show taskbar on all displays". That also puts an orb in plain site on each monitor so you don't have to mouse to the corner to see it. The Windows logo key + the Shift Key + the left or right arrow key will move an open program or app that has the focus from screen to screen. All I'm saying is this comment "By default (when you plug in that HDMI cable) Windows8 gives you two Extend mode monitors with the Desktop on the TV and the Metro Apps on the PC." is not 100% accurate. Metro opens on the monitor set as Main in display properties, but you don't have to launch it from there. Also the desktop is actually on both monitors. Your taskbar may only be on the one monitor but that doesn't stop you from launching a desktop program from the Metro start screen on the display with no taskbar.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #35


    Posts : 31
    Win8 Home


    Hmmmm, I was trying very hard to launch the desktop App (Control-Panel/Display/Change Display Settings) from the Metro window and I couldn't find any desktop apps. None whatsoever. When I used (Charm/search) I could see only Metro Apps.

    Also, for those of us without extensive knowledge of the two Win8 Metro/Desktop interfaces this is very complicated. Especially since the two interfaces (Metro/Desktop) are usually merged but may also be separate! All I wanted to do is plug in a cable and watch TV.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #36


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    Launch the Metro Start screen and mouse over to it. A down pointing arrow should be visible in the lower right corner. That switches you to the All Apps screen in Windows 8.1. Everything shows on that screen including any installed desktop programs. You can then pin what you want to the main Start Screen. All my games, office, control panel etc show there. Even administrative tools if you want. The stuff I use every day I pin to the main screen.

    I hear you about some of this being confusing. Keep in mind though, that as far as Windows is concerned your TV is just another monitor. Windows treats it like any other monitor plugged into the HDMI cable. It can't use the tuner or any other TV functions, all it can do is use it as a display so it treats it as one. Most people want extend when they add a monitor so that's what it does.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #37


    Posts : 31
    Win8 Home


    Yes I know about the down arrow showing all apps. I looked for it and it wasn't there. Is it possible that's a Win8.1 feature? Because I went back to Dell Factory Settings (Win8) when I was stuck with no desktop. I do not have a down arrow right now at this very moment. I use (Charms/Search) in Win8 to get the full list of apps.

    But I am here to tell you that I could not do that when Win8 extended my desktop to the TV. On the monitor with Metro Apps the (Charms/Search) did not produce a full list of apps. I tried many times.

    Now we can talk about these workarounds after the fact. In some ways this is even more confusing now because we have multiple versions of windows (8/8.1) and we have different monitor setups (extend/duplicate).

    But this problem is way more than confusing! The tools needed to configure a new system are ripped out from your computer screen and sent somewhere else. You cannot continue with setting up your system. Even with Dell help. Even with Microsoft help. For days on end! This situation seems much more than confusing to me. Win8 Win8.1
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #38


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    It is different in 8.0 versus 8.1 which doesn't help things, but maybe this will help. Apps Screen - Open in Windows 8 Option 2 right click in an empty area of the Start screen and you should see an All Apps option. Tiles do get added to the Metro Start Screen when you install desktop programs. If they didn't there would be no (easy) way to launch them. A lot of the settings are still in the Control Panel, the ones that aren't can be a pita to find though. If you right click the Start Orb in Windows 8.1 you'll get quick links to Control Panel, Device Manager, Disk Management, Task Manager etc. I'm not sure if that's there in 8.0. You'll have to mouse to the lower left corner to see the orb.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #39


    Posts : 31
    Win8 Home


    The plot sickens. I went over to the Windows Store to get the free Win8.1 upgrade. Clicked a few things and the upgrade started downloading. It took a while. I was switching back and forth between two computers (Windows 7 and Win8) connected to my computer monitor while waiting for the download to complete.

    When I flipped back to my Win8 computer after the download there was a prompt to Restart. I told it yes to go ahead and restart windows. It's is hard to believe what happened next.

    My Win8 computer lost the monitor signal. I thought this was a momentary state that would change as the computer restarted. But after 5, 10, 15 minutes or more, the Win8 computer still had no signal to the monitor.

    Then I remembered the old disappearing desktop scenario. Went to my living room and turned on the TV and there it was. Windows 8.1 was installing on my TV, in the other room, where the TV was off. What if someone wanted to watch TV? I should tell them Microsoft Install screens are entertaining enough?

    After a long time of installing it finally came back to my computer monitor with the question to accept the license terms. Thank goodness for small favors. At least I didn't have to use the wife-cursor-cue-trick for answering the configuration questions.

    Go on. Tell me this is not a bug. Tell me that a majority of users use extended screens. Tell me I can use the Metro screen to run Desktop Apps (there was no metro screen, only the install). Tell me it's okay to have updates begin on one monitor and then switch to another. imo/This needs to be fixed!
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #40


    Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts : 6,490
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit


    Hey I'm sorry this happened but your setup is far from the standard setup the average user has. As far as Windows is concerned your TV is a monitor and it treats it like one. It has no way of knowing its a TV and is used for other purposes. It also has no way of knowing its in another room. The normal setup for a dual monitors is both monitors being in front of you on your desk. When your updating to 8.1 you are actually updating to a new OS. The HDMI output of the video card is likely set by the video card to be the main output. It's the primary output and gets priority, thus Windows sets it as the main display on the install. If both monitors where in front of you it would be a none issue and you could switch it so your other monitor is the Main display in Windows.

    Its not a bug and yes the majority of users with multi monitor setups use extend. When your installing Windows you don't get to the desktop or metro until the install finishes. This update is more than your usual Windows update or service pack. At some point its going to take control of the system and you won't be able to do other things at the same time. It can't update files if they are in use. Its an OS upgrade similar to going from 7 to 8. If you were doing a clean install the same thing would likely happen. The HDMI would be used by default and you wouldn't get your dual screens until Windows was installed. I'm not trying to be a smart ass by the way, its just the way it works is all. If you stop thinking of it as a TV and that its just another monitor, some of what I said should make sense.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Win8 problem with two monitors
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