How to make a multi-monitor compatible wallpaper

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How to make a multi-monitor compatible wallpaper

I run a delightful tri-monitor display at work, and over the years, I've always been pissed that wallpaper just doesn't display right with multiple monitors. Not only can you not display separate backgrounds on different displays, but if your displays are different resolution, one of them is going to look either stretched and fugly, or cropped and weird. So, last week I set out to figure out an easy way to make multimon-friendly wallpaper.

desktop setup
Here's my desktop layout at work. I have three monitors connected to two cards, and the monitor numbered 2 is my primary display.

 


My display setup consists of three displays--my primary display is a 1920x1200 LCD in the center, with a 1280x1024 display on either side of the primary. So, the first thing I did was fire up Photoshop and create a template of my display, with distinct colors on each area, so that I could easily tell which wallpaper is showing on which screen. My test image is 4480 pixels wide by 1200 pixels high, click the image below to see the full size mock.


My super-sexy triple-monitor wallpaper test screen.

But, unfortunately, that didn't work. The images were all misaligned. The left screen box on my wallpaper was displaying on my center screen, my center screen box was on the right screen, and the right screen box was on the left screen. Not good. However, I was able to quickly figure out what was going on. Apparently, Windows displays the top-left corner of your wallpaper on the primary screen, then wraps around from right to left. When it got to the end of the right screen, it wrapped the remainder of the wallpaper to the left-most screen.


After a little trial and error, I was able to create a wallpaper that displayed correctly on my desktop, with the proper boxes in the proper places.

So, I went back to Photoshop, to try and create a template that would display correctly. I moved the left screen box to the right side of the right screen box, and then moved the entire image over so that the top left corner of the center screen box was in the top-left corner of the image (click the image above to download the full image). When I tested the new test image, I had much better results; and I used that wallpaper as a template for drop in the images I actually wanted to use. Below, you can see my finished result (click the image to download the actual wallpaper).
The finished product, click the image to download my sweet wallpaper.

 

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magnumsrule

Im using display fusion right now for two monitors. The free version allows you to use different wallpapers. Dont know if three or more works the same but i would assume so. The $$ version allows you to extend the taskbar along with some other features. Think it was 30 bucks but dont remember exactly.

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timada

I’ve been wanting to do this with my monitors for my apple computers < http://www.maximumpc.com/article/how_to_make_a_multi_monitor_compatible_wallpaper > but there aren’t any programs that I can find to do this, but your guide has given me some ideas :) Hopefully it will be easier to find programs that allow for advanced customisation across multiple monitors in the near future. Seems likely since there are more and more people now using this setup in their homes and not just the work place.

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tiberiu

As I can see from the picture displayed here in the post you managed to find the best cheap LCD monitor solution. Cool idea and very efficient way to save money. 
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crsang

ultramon works in vista... running it right now. i love it!

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jess43281

Has anyone been able to extend their taskbar along the bottom of dual monitors?

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willsmith

That's something that Ultramon actually does (although not in Vista). I personally find it kind of annoying, I'd rather just have one single Taskbar to keep track of.

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monogodo

My nVidia card allows me to have different images on each of my two monitors. I could also have them set to different resolutions if I wanted to. I simply use nView to set what I want. Much easier than creating a special image.

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grobleto

Oh, different Will Smith's. We'll still, this was a great article, and standing on the shoulders of what you wrote, I was able to finally put a background to my two-monitor setup with one landscape and the other profile. Thanks for the boost there.

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ponchato

You have 3 monitors?!? That's crazy. But not really, when I think about it. There are 4, 5, and, I've seen online somewhere, an 8 monitor display. Crazy big.

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