Adding a new monitor, graphics card, disconnecting/reconnecting a monitor, or even updating to the latest GPU drivers can affect how Windows 10 displays the desktop on a multiple monitor setup.
Common issues are the mouse cursor switching to the wrong side of the second monitor when pushed to extremities of the first and vice versa in extended display mode, or quite simply the Windows 10 start menu, desktop icons, and task box appearing on the wrong monitor. A tedious problem if you are accustomed to a specific setup.
Here’s how to fix any issues and change your primary monitor on Windows 10, which as it turns out is rather straightforward and should take no more than a few minutes to resolve.
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Switching The Primary Monitor
- To start, minimize any open windows or programs, then right-click anywhere on the desktop.
- In the drop-down menu that appears, navigate to and select ‘’”Display Settings” represented by an icon of a monitor. Alternatively, you can click on the Windows Start menu icon and type ”Display Settings” in the search bar. Click on the ”Display Settings – System settings” search result.
- The ‘’Display Settings’’ window will pop up and display a graphical representation of all the monitors connected to the PC with each assigned a particular number and size that reflect real-world dimensions proportional to one another. ”1” being the primary monitor where the desktop icons and taskbar appear, ”2” the secondary, and so on.
- Click on the monitor you want to assign as the primary display, then scroll down to the options below and tick the ”Make this my main display” setting.
- Click on ”Apply”.
- The screen will flicker momentarily before rejigging the monitor to primary and shifting the desktop icons/taskbar to what is now set as the primary monitor.
If the monitor in question is already set as the main display, then the ”Make this my main display” option will be greyed out and, therefore, unusable. To bypass this, click on the other monitor and tick the ”Make this my main display” option.
If you are unsure which monitor is which, you can click on ”Identify”, which prompts Windows 10 to display a large number in the bottom left-hand corner of each screen. The numbers denote how Windows 10 recognizes each monitor with the ”1”, ”2”, etc. numbering in ”Display Settings”.
Additionally, you can also drag and drop the graphically represented monitors to rearrange their position based on your particular setup. The feature is useful if you have an unusual arrangement where you want the desktop to extend towards the left rather than the typical right or have vertically mounted monitors.
In the options below the graphical representation, you can also further customize the monitor setup with orientation options, brightness levels, extended mode, resolution, adjust the scale of text/apps, and toggle Night Light.
Many GPUs work in tandem with manufacturer developed graphics software designed to get the most out of a device. These applications can, however, override or affect the Windows 10 monitor settings rendering any changes made from ”Display Settings” obsolete.
Take NVIDIA GPUs; these work with NVIDIA’s Control Panel utility, which is usually accessed from the icon in the taskbar, or by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting NVIDIA Control Panel.
Once open, expand the ”Display” menu in the list on the left-hand side of the program, and click on ”Set up multiple displays”. You’ll then get an options menu very similar to Windows 10’s Display Settings. Click on your main monitor and select ‘’Primary Monitor’’.
The process differs for AMD chipset GPUs so revert to the user manual for how to do this.