How Do I Toggle Between Screens On My Computer?

Techwalla may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Adding another monitor to your computer system can improve your productivity, particularly if your primary display is small or you regularly run with multiple open browsers or application windows.
Image Credit: golubovy/iStock/GettyImages

Adding another monitor to your computer system can improve your productivity, particularly if your primary display is small or you regularly run with multiple open browsers or application windows. When adding monitors to a computer, you need to take a couple of steps in addition to making sure external cables are properly connected. Whether you're running on Windows or macOS, you go into system settings to configure how extra display devices function. Depending on the configuration you choose, you may need to know the shortcut for switching monitors to use the displays correctly.


Using Multiple Displays With Windows 10

Windows 10 includes support for adding one or more display devices to a laptop or tower computer. After connecting an additional monitor, access Display Settings by pressing the right mouse button on the desktop or by choosing System in the Settings dialog and then selecting Display. Additional display devices that are correctly connected are automatically detected and shown in the Multiple Displays section. You can change how the displays are arranged – which is on the left and which is on the right – and specify which display is the primary display.


Video of the Day

The dialog also has a drop-down menu where you choose the display mode that determines how the extra monitors display content. The Duplicate Desktop option shows the desktop on all displays, and the Extend option expands the desktop across all displays. The Disconnect this Display selection disables one of the displays. With the Extend option, you gain more screen real estate for multiple windows and applications. Using the Duplicate Desktop option in Windows 10 with multiple desktops on multiple monitors is useful when you connect a projector as an additional display device.

Windows Shortcut to Switch Monitors

You can change the display mode for multiple screens from outside Settings using the Project keyboard shortcut, which is Windows Key + P. The Project panel extends from the side of the main display, where you can change the mode to Duplicate or Extend on the fly. An additional mode, Second Screen Only, closes a laptop's display when another monitor is added to use for display. You can use the same shortcut in Windows 7, where a pop-up menu in the middle of the primary display contains options that include Computer Only, Duplicate, Extend and Projector Only.


Setting Up Extra Displays for Macs

Like Windows, Mac computers can accommodate additional display devices. Multiple display modes control how extra screens are used. System Preferences under the Apple menu is where you arrange display locations, change the primary display and specify a display mode. Two modes, Extended and Mirror, are similar to the Windows Extend and Duplicate Display modes. If you have an Apple TV device, you can mirror your Mac's display on your television display or use the TV as a separate display.


Mac Keyboard Shortcut for Mirroring

When you have an extra display device connected to a Mac computer, you can use the Command key and the F1 function key to switch the monitor's display mode. The shortcut accomplishes the same thing as changing the Mirror Display toggle in the System Preferences dialog. Pressing Command + F1 a second time restores the display mode to its previous setting. If the F1 key is not working as expected, check Keyboard under System Preferences. When the check box related to whether F1, F2 and other function keys should be used as standard function keys is checked, then the keyboard shortcut for toggling the mirroring display mode is Function + Command + F1.