Consistent Display Images


I’m driving two monitors from a laptop. The laptop and one monitor contain the desktop icons and fill the screen. The added monitor however, has a reduced image and no icons. How do I extend the image of the second monitor to the same size as the first monitor. By-the-way both added monitors are exactly the same size.


Hi Leroy,

Thanks for posting!

Based on what you’re describing, it sounds like both monitors are working, but how the desktop background and icons are handled by Windows can be confusing at first.

Windows treats the two screens as one big extended desktop (onto which icons and Windows can be moved around), but treats each screen separately for the desktop background. That dichotomy can be confusing at first.

You can change your desktop background and make it “tiled” to have it fill both monitors. Here’s some help on that (are you running Windows 7?):…

And for the icons, make sure you can move your mouse as expected to the second monitor. Then drag and drop one of the icons from the first monitor to the second.

Monitors can be the same physical size, but actually have different resolutions of pixels. In that case, images and windows on one monitor will be of a different size than the other, and that’s ok.

You can see whether this is the case (and change settings), with the Windows Screen Resolution/Display Settings control panel, reachable from the main Windows “Control Panels” folder.


Let us know if this info makes things clearer at all - we can hone in on a particular aspect.

Thanks again!


Bernie, although the explanation about the tiles answers part of the question, it still doesn’t explain why the image in the screen of the second monitor has a black border around the image on the monitor. I tried to use the Control Panel option but the driver that was downloaded seems to have modified the options I had at one time. No matter how I approach it, all paths now lead back to the WDP with limited options for changing the display of the second monitor. I’m not sure at this point that this is the best product to link monitors together.I’ve used similar devices in the past with much better results.


Another thought: We don’t usually recommend third party software, but there is software out there that overrides and enhances the Windows 7 multi-monitor UI experience.

DisplayFusion is a good one, as is Ultramon (…) They add a bunch of features, including better desktop background handling (… )

For multi-mon features beyond what Windows 7 offers, might be something to check out.

Best wishes,



I think your response is helping to zero in on the problem. Here is my set up: A laptop and two identical Dell WFP2100 monitors. I don’t use the screen on the laptop but rather the two monitors on my desk. I know the two monitors have the same pixel range. However, when I look at the display setting it shows Monitor 1/2 and 3. I think it is measuring the pixel range of the laptop, which is less than the monitor, rather than measuring the monitors separately. How can I separate the laptop monitor from the desktop monitor, so I can use the full range of resolution of the desktop monitor??


Hi Leroy,

Ah, that 1/2 is the key.

Your machine is set to mirror the laptop screen and the 1st external monitor (that’s the 1/2 part), then extend the desktop to the 2nd external monitor (that’s 3).

In order to mirror, Windows must change the resolution of the 1st external monitor to match the laptop, which then makes your two identical monitors be set to two very different modes.

To quickly change this, hit the Windows-P hotkey combo to bring up this panel.


And choose “extend” instead of “duplicate”. Then the two external monitors will be able to have their full, same resolution, independent of the laptop screen.

Then to to prevent the mouse and windows from being able to go to your laptop screen (e.g.if you close the lid), go to the Windows Screen Resolution control panel, make one of the extended displays your main display, select the laptop screen (#2 in the example image below) and disable that display. Also make sure your two external monitors are set to the same, full resolution.


Hope that helps.

Best wishes,


Hi Leroy,

The reason why the monitors have a black border when the desktop background is set to “center” is because the bitmap image being used for the desktop background is a fixed size in pixels, while each screen is at a different pixel resolution - one higher, one lower.

None of Windows 7’s choices for desktop background (fill, fit, stretch, center) provides a perfect answer, as long as each monitor is at a different resolution. Most people just allow the desktop background to be centered (the default) and aren’t concerned, as long as the applications they run use the whole screen (which they do, because they’re not a fixed pixel size).

If having the desktop background fill the screen is a priority (over maximizing screen resolution of the monitors), that can be quickly done by setting the resolution of each screen to the same (lowest-common-denominator) resolution. That can be done in the “Screen Resolution” control panel pictured above - just change resolutions of the larger monitor to have it match the smaller.

Now, with the screens all set to the same resolution, if you tell Windows to “fill” the desktop background, it will really fill them.

There won’t be different results with other products (unless monitors are set to same resolution), as all these desktop background behaviors are defined by Windows 7 itself.

We’ve been wanting to do some videos of how Windows 7 Multi-monitor works, especially as it relates to the things people see first - desktop backgrounds, mouse movement, icons, and windows. The videos that are out there today don’t really cover the topic well. We’re sorry we don’t have better materials (and text doesn’t do this justice - it really has to be video).

But for what it’s worth, here’s the top search results:…

Best wishes,