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In my work environment I have three smaller monitors and love the productivity benefit. At home I have two 27" displays (the iMac and an external cinema display), but am having trouble laying them out on my desk so I can effectively use them without neck strain. What's the best layout for ensuring most of your work involves you staring straight ahead at your work, while still letting your work spread out over all those lovely millions of pixels?

EDIT: responses so far have focused on having the monitors at the right level, i.e. at and below eye level. But the problem I'm having is that just one monitor nearly fills my field of vision, so I end up turning my neck or chair dramatically to work on the other.

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ditch the other monitor sebastian and master spaces! Keeps you neck straight. –  fady Dec 3 '10 at 22:42
    
@debug not really, spaces is not a substitute for dual/triple screen. The ability to quickly switch back and forth content or having the ability to quickly monitor something else without having to hit an awful and slow hotkey (that will perform an even worse animation) is not the same. Two or three correctly positioned screens should not cause any more neck stain. –  Martín Marconcini Dec 4 '10 at 7:03
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4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You don't say what you'll be using them for. I'm (among other things) a programmer, and for me being able to see a tall vertical area in my text editor is of primary importance. Thus, given 2 widescreen monitors, I'd set them up vertically, next to each other.

I'm not unique here: when I visited Google, most of the programmers I saw had this layout too.

I would think this could help with your neck problem, since it makes the display area closer to a square, and not a really wide rectangle. Alternatively, you could keep them horizontal, and stack one right above the other. Depends on the shape of the things you're going to be looking at most, I guess!

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Honestly, I've been using 2 24inch monitors for years (one 24ich connected to my 24inch iMac). I personally think using two monitors is not necessary anymore, if you effectively use spaces/virtual desktops.

I now only use my 24inch iMac as my only display, and basically just got used to the new setup, while mastering the keyboard shortcuts. I don't need to move my head, the OS does it for me.

I say ditch the other monitor and get use to using cntrl+arrow keys, just my opinion.

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I've activated spaces as well, and find it fascinating how it's pushed me towards keyboard shortcuts. Of course it's a long way to the dock from the 2nd screen, so that's part of it, too –  Sebastian Good Dec 4 '10 at 21:05
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Make sure both are at the same height, if you still have neck strain, then you are not sitting at the right level:

alt text

(image courtesy of this link).

If you put them higher or lower, you’ll have to adjust with your neck, thus causing strain.

An excellent blog post about that was written by our own creator…

LCD Monitor Arms. Good old school post.

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Ergonomics in a nutshell: The heuristic is to have your eye line be about 1-2" below the top of your monitor. That should allow your arms to be roughly parallel to your desk and your back perpendicular to the base of your chair.

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