How to Switch Primary & Secondary Monitors

By James Highland

Modern computers often utilize multiple monitors to improve work flow. Many users now consider a dual monitor setup a necessary default for working in a variety of applications. However, a computer's operating system does not know which monitor is preferred as the primary choice. The standard computer features, including the programs menu, recycle bin, application shortcuts, files, downloads, and other items are usually placed only on a primary monitor. It can be awkward for these functions to display on a monitor positioned off-center from a user's work space. Fortunately, you can instruct Windows how to switch the primary and secondary monitor setting.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • 2 monitors

Step 1

Right-click on any blank spot of the Window's desktop. A context menu will appear. Choose the "Properties" command. Click the "Start" menu on the Windows taskbar and launch the Control Panel. Inside the Control Panel select the "Display" feature. A pop-up configuration window will appear.

Step 2

Select the "Settings" tab. This is the last tab in a row of options at the top of the display properties pop-up window.

Step 3

View the dual monitor setup in the virtual workspace window provided in the settings tab of the display properties window. If two monitors are connected to the computer and working, they will appear in this window. The numbers "1" and "2" will label each monitor.

Step 4

Click on the monitor labeled "2" in the virtual workspace window. Settings for that particular monitor become available.

Step 5

Place a check mark in the "Use this device as the primary monitor" check box located under the virtual monitor workspace section of the settings tab. The labels will switch so that the monitor now shows "1".

Step 6

Press the "OK" button. The settings take immediate effect and the primary and secondary monitors are switched.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is also possible to simply switch the monitor cables attached to the computer. This is a more inconvenient solution, but may be necessary for computers that do not allow display setting changes. Corporate machines may provide these settings only to network administrators, making this the only option.