Sunday, 4 January 2009

Mac Tip: Extended Menubar Replacement for Dual Monitors

Sometimes, having dual monitors is a great thing (see: 21 killer tips to increase your productivity on your computer). Having dual computers is even better, but at least having two monitors allows you to drastically cut down on the time you spend at your computer.

When I'm using multiple monitors (or multimon) on Windows, I like to use an application known as UltraMon, which stretches my taskbar to other monitors. So I can minimize a window, and it'll minimize to the taskbar on the monitor the window was originally on. UltraMon even adds two arrows to the title bar of each window, so can you move you windows from one monitor to the other with only one click.

However, there is no such alternative on a Mac. As far as I know, it's not possible to have a dock on each monitor/screen, and it's not possible to have a separate menubar for each monitor as well. This gets pretty annoying quickly... because often I have to come back to my primary monitor to launch a window or access the menubar for an application that's on my secondary window. Of course, this constant moving around makes me more prone to mistakes and less productive.

I still don't know how to solve the dock problem, but for the menubar problem, there is a round-about solution. It's called DejaMenu. Instead of extending your menubar, it provides a context menu that contains all the menubar entries when a keyboard shortcut is pressed. So this way, all you have to do is press the keyboard shortcut, and use the menu that pops-up instead of going back to the main monitor all the time.

Using Deja Menu to 'extend' your menubar to any monitor

First, download the application from the DejaMenu Website. Then, open system preferences, and click on 'Universal Access' and check the box next to 'Enable access for assistive devices'.

Then, open DejaMenu, and configure the keyboard shortcut. Now, when you press the keyboard shortcut over any application, a context menu should pop-up, containing menubar items. So, in a way, it's kinda like stretching your menubar on another screen.

Furthermore, as the author says on the page, you can configure a mouse button to emulate the keyboard shorcut, which is going to increase your productivity all the more (and plus, you don't have to remember any keyboard combinations)!

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