How to Add a Taskbar to Multiple Monitors in Windows 7

Windows is a great operating system for productive environments. Having multiple monitors allows you a level of freedom to get more done across a larger space. This enables you to keep more windows open, giving you access to more data at any given time.

Many users take full advantage of the taskbar, and would benefit from having it extend to each monitor rather than being completely dependent on a single monitor. Being able to access your Start menu from any screen can be a plus, especially if you want access to something specific without having to shift your line of sight.

There are actually quite a few tools out there to accomplish this. Here are a few of them.

DisplayFusion – $25

DisplayFusion isn’t a free solution, though it does a lot more than just extend your taskbar. It enables you to do things like set a separate screen saver on each monitor, span a single screen saver across multiple monitors, customize your Windows logon screen background, assign applications to a specific monitor, enable window snapping, and even enable/disable monitors on the fly.

Essentially, DisplayFusion is an all-in-one supplement to built-in Windows desktop management options. While I wouldn’t recommend it for the casual user just wanting to extend the taskbar, it would be the type of program that may work for those who wish to make the most out of Windows using multiple screens.

Actual Multiple Monitors – Free / $29

Actual Multiple Monitors by Actual Tools is a software solution that extends your taskbar to a second monitor in a mirrored, independent, or mixed state. The Actual Multiple Monitors taskbar looks exactly like the original taskbar, with a few added features. For example, you can show or hide various components of the taskbar with a single click including the clock, notification area, desktop button, and Start menu.

In addition, you can maximize a single window across all of your screens and reassign them with a single click.

Actual Tools has made both free and pro versions available. The free version will give you a second taskbar, but doesn’t include certain features. Here are some of the features you do get with the free version.

  • Second Taskbar
  • Mirror Taskbars from Primary
  • Adjust Transparency
  • Re-Order Taskbar Buttons
  • Group Similar Taskbar Buttons
  • Stretch a Single Image Across Multiple Desktops
  • Set Individual Background Images for Each Monitor
  • Additional Window Menu Commands

At $29, you can opt for the Pro version, giving you the ability to use the program in both corporate and personal settings. In addition, you receive some added functionality. Here are some of those additional features.

  • Start Button on Every Monitor’s Taskbar
  • Notification Area on Each Monitor
  • Pin Programs to Secondary Taskbar
  • Multi-Monitor Task Switcher
  • Re-Order Notification Area Icons
  • Single and Individual Background Picture Slideshow on Multiple Desktops
  • Individual Screen Saver on Each Monitor
  • Desktop Profiles
  • Lock Mouse to a Specific Monitor
  • Window Snapping
  • Automatic Monitor Assignments for Specific Windows

You can try these additional pro features free for 30 days upon installing the program. That makes it a feasible solution to try, though I’m not terribly happy with having to go pro to take advantage of taskbar functions that really don’t do anything new.

Dual Monitor Taskbar – Free

Dual Monitor Taskbar is an open source solution for adding taskbar support across multiple monitors. Unlike other solutions I’ve found, this one doesn’t try to push you towards a pro version. It’s simple and fairly straightforward.

Currently, it is only tested for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Here are some of the features currently available on Dual Monitor Taskbar:

  • Start Button (BETA)
  • Taskbar on the Second Monitor
  • Window Manager
  • Mirror Mode
  • Pinned Programs
  • Aero Support
  • Auto-Hide
  • Notification Area

Upon testing, the Start Button feature didn’t work all the time. That said, I found the notification area a bit more functional than the one I tested with Actual Multiple Monitors. Being free, it’s hard to complain about a little BETA testing.

One feature that did impress me was the Window Manager. This allows you to assign specific monitors to various windows and control how these screens display. You can also set a specific font on the secondary taskbar to make it a bit more suited to your personal tastes.

Lacked features aside, this is my favorite solution out of the pack because it doesn’t try to do everything, and is completely free. It appeared to me that many of the features found on the more expensive competition did things you can already do in windows anyway, making it less appealing than just finding something that specifically handled taskbar management.

As for resource management, Dual Monitor Taskbar took just 19 MB of RAM during operation. That’s a pretty small footprint, though slightly larger than the 8 MB used by Actual Multiple Monitors.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for something that does everything and anything you might need for multiple screen management, DisplayFusion and Actual Multiple Monitors are both solid solutions. Being able to maximize a single window across all of your screens can be pretty cool, and having the ability to create profiles and set backgrounds / screen savers independently is a plus.

Still, if all you want is another taskbar, then there is no reason you shouldn’t try the free Dual Monitor Taskbar. It isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t require you to spend money to use all of its features.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • RaterKey

    Interesting tip, I have multiple monitors at home and Windows support had always struck me as pretty good. With Windows 7 it has always worked perfectly. But I can see that some of the features detailed here would be very useful to have, I’ll probably give it a go sometime.

     

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-W-Thibodeau/100000958644417 Nate W Thibodeau

    UltraMon is what i use. 
    http://www.realtimesoft.com/ultramon/

  • David P.

    I tried Dual Monitor Taskbar, very nice and handy.  I like how it defaults to putting the the icon of open apps in the task bar of the monitor it’s on.  Nice, quick and easy way to see what monitor something is on that may have gotten buried by other windows.

  • http://www.caseyfrennier.com/ Casey Frennier

    Great post. Even at my busiest most multi-tasking jobs I wouldn’t need the taskbar to go across all 3 of my monitors with windows 7’s taskbar icon grouping but the feature:  “Mirror Taskbars from Primary” could be very useful and save some serious mousing around. Right now I use a single taskbar on my center monitor to try to accomplish that.

  • http://www.bytehead.org/blog/ Bryan “bytehead” Price

    Or upgrade to Windows 8.

  • Kyle Polansky

    Or you can attempt to use the multiple task bars in Windows 8, which fail btw.

  • http://elmapps.com/ Anthony

    This was just great! DL’d and installed Dual Monitor Taskbar – Free, works like charm. I have been looking for a solution like this. I used to have it when I had my NVIDIA Quadro….thanks for the post! 

  • RaterKey

    BTW, this is what I LOVE about LockerGnome! I don’t have the time to go searching for all the little software out there that could improve my life. But I am glad that you guys do.

  • http://twitter.com/lhamil64 Lee

    I use Zbar to add a taskbar.

  • http://twitter.com/fixgadget GadgetFix

    I use Display Fusion simply because I am too lazy to resize my wallpaper; and then set it to tile. It’s nice to have dual taskbars though. 

  • http://twitter.com/JayStephens Jay Stephens

    I’m after a solution that extends the taskbar. I have tried ultramon, dual monitor taskbar, and actual multiple monitors…. and none of them really does “extend” the taskbar. The closest was ultramon in mixed mode, but even then, the icon in the taskbar gets shifted from one monitor to another when I drag a window across – not what I was after. Creating a 2nd taskbar that shows only the tasks in that window is not the same as  “extending” it.
    I haven’t bothered trying DisplayFusion because it says on their homepage that ” The taskbar on each monitor can be configured to show all windows, or only the windows that are located on that monitor” – again, exactly what I DON’T want… I just want a single taskbar, that behaves like a single-monitor taskbar, but spills across both monitors. If my monitor driver allowed me to treat the 2 screens as 1 very wide screen (which some do) then I would do that instead.

    • KingForge

      get an amd graphic card and use their “eyefinity”. It combines all your monitors into one fake monitor with the biggest screen resolution possible. That is the closest your going to get.

      • Jay Stephens

        Thanks. Tho my comment was stale, your timing is awesome as my monitor blew up 2 weeks ago so I need to buy hardware anyways.

  • Fabbaz

    What software can I use to get one single taskbar, that spans my two monitors as if it was a single long monitor?

  • ClubbieTim

    Dual Monitor worked great! Simple and effective.

  • dee-khan

    Another vote for Dual Monitor.

  • fwupow

    The free ‘Dual Monitor Taskbar’ app is working well for me. It doesn’t allow for adding a Toolbar though, so you can’t pin shortcuts to folders & drives, Sometimes when you hover over an icon, the labels flash repeatedly and sometimes they don’t. The area for Date & Time isn’t wide enough to display the day-of-week “Wednesday” fully. Minor quibbles but considering the cost, it’s fabtastical.

  • Antonio Ho

    Thanks! DM works just fine :)

  • http://simonsites.ru Semyon Edvabnov

    Price for Actual Multiple Monitors is $24.95 now.