How to Move a Fullscreen Game to a Second Monitor?

Full Screen Gaming

Playing games on PCs has become bigger and better with every passing year. With new products always coming onto the market to improve the gaming experience, this is a big draw for many consumers to migrate their gaming time.

Modern gaming is all about the immersive experience. When it comes to viewing, bigger usually is better. We look at how to move a full-screen game to a second monitor. 

With consoles, it’s very much a ‘get what you get’ type situation. 

Many PC gamers have now adapted to having multiple display monitors enhance and enrich their experience. 

Quick FAQs

How do I force a game into full screen?

Just like Alt-Enter can force some games out of full-screen mode it can also force the game into full-screen mode. For some games unfortunately you’ll have to find and select the correct option in the game video settings.

How do I force a game out of full screen?

If you’re lucky pressing Alt-Enter will move the game from full-screen mode to window mode. Others will require selecting a specific option in their game-specific video settings.

Why have multiple screens? 

There are several reasons you might want multiple screens: 

  • Size matters. Two screens will double the view and make the graphics bigger and better for greater enjoyment.
  • Others like having external programs open during their gaming, such as chatrooms, live feeds, and more.
  • Some like to have a walkthrough open on a second screen to guide them through the game.
  • It just looks cool.

What factors do I need to consider before investing in a second monitor?

There are a few things to check before investing in a second monitor for gaming:

  • Graphics card and connectivity

Ensure you have a graphics card that supports a second monitor and has the correct connections available for a second screen. Often if the connections differ, one can simply purchase an adapter.

  • Size

While you can get away with two monitors of different sizes, it is always better to have them both the same. It makes the appearance and experience more realistic.

  • Thickness of bezel

A thin bezel allows you to position the monitors closer together. Conversely, a thicker bezel will result in a wider gap between the screens.

What happens when you want your main screen-free and the game running on the secondary screen?

Programs and games open on the primary screen, so you must manually move these games to your second screen. Sounds difficult, well, never fear, we are going to tell you how!

Why not just get a bigger screen?

You certainly can get a bigger screen to make the display size larger. You will lose some of the benefits above, and it might cost you more money, but it is an option. 

You do not have to spend a fortune to get a quality monitor. Check out our article covering the best 27-inch monitors under $300. Want something even bigger? Here are the best 32-inch monitors. If you want a screen you can move around with you, we also cover the best portable monitors.

Moving a full-screen game to a second monitor

We are going to look at how to achieve this on the three main operating systems:

  • Windows
  • Mac OS 
  • Linux

Windows

Windows Screen Second Display

Starting with our industry leader.

On Windows, there are several options you can use to move your full-screen game to a second monitor. They each have their advantages and disadvantages, however. 

1. Projector Mode

With projector mode, you immediately have your game displayed on the secondary screen. The downside? Your primary screen won’t be able to be used during this time.

2. Setting the secondary screen as the primary

This can be done whenever you want to engage in gameplay. Simply go to your control panel and find the display tab. Select the screen you want as your display, in this case, your secondary, and make it the default/main display. When you’re done playing, just change it back. 

The only real setback here is the process of chopping and changing the primary screen display. It can get annoying, but it’s an easier option to achieve the desired result.

3. Change settings in the game

Open the game on your primary screen, and then go to the game settings. In the game, settings find the display options and choose windowed. Drag the window across and done. The downside, you’re now playing the game in a windowed view.

4. External Software Options

There are numerous software options out there that help for this very purpose. Some of these software options are free; some require payments. A variety of these options give you a range. of control over the experience. It’s more in-depth than simply having the game on a different screen. 

While there are many options, it’s often found that simply changing the primary screen when you want to play is the easiest option.

The hardware you use for gaming is critical for full enjoyment. Take a look at the best SSD laptops. They are fast and powerful.  

Mac OS

Mac Display Arrangement Second Monitor
Mac Display Arrangement Second Monitor. Source.

Macs prove a little more challenging. It is Apple; after all, it’s to be expected. For starters, even having a second screen requires an adapter to make it so Apple products can connect to any non-Apple product. 

If you are going the generic route you will either need a;

  • USB-C to HDMI
  • USB-C to VGA
  • USB-C to DVI 

Apple does sell some of these options as direct products. Their USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter is overall a useful option as it provides more use beyond the means of a secondary screen. It has an HDMI, USB, and Charging port. 

While you could easily argue that cables are a part of all secondary screen options regardless of device or OS, it’s more critical in the Apple Mac OS department. This is due to the fact that Apple follows its own rules. Likely because they can push out more products, thus earning more revenue. When you sell an adapter that simply acts as a USB slot, you get the point.

To view your game on a secondary screen, you need to make the second screen the primary. It seems like the only viable way to play your game in full screen. Mac’s open their programs or games on the screen that features that prominent bottom menu bar.

To change the screen on a Mac, you do the following;

  • Go to System Preference 
  • Displays
  • Arrangement
  • Move your menu bar strip to your secondary monitor.

You can also mirror the display. This does, however, seem counter-intuitive to the reasoning behind a second screen. Another option is F7, which does the projector mode, rendering the main screen useless. 

Linux

PlayOnLinux Interface.
PlayOnLinux Interface. Source.

Gaming on Linux operating systems has long been questioned. Is it possible? Is it the same experience? This truly depends on who you ask. 

Linux is open-source, but they control a small percentage of the OS market. Thus game developers truly invest their efforts into the bulk of that market, being Windows. 

With a bit of will power and determination, you can have a decent if not close to Windows gaming experience, if that’s what you’re wanting. It does, however, pose more technical challenges than others. 

Before you even consider the process of switching a game to a secondary screen, you need to get your ducks in a row. 

  • Ensure drivers are properly configured (GeForce and Nvidia do offer them on their website).
  • Compatibility layers such as WINE which will require a front end such as PlayOnLinux.

It becomes a process of back and forth management to understand the game’s requirements vs. the system’s capabilities. A program such as WINE offers insight into issues any title may encounter and how to counteract them.

Moving a game over to a second screen can also be another headache. Open your front end, such as PlayOnLinux. Click on the title you want to play and click the configure option. Then go and select your compatibility layer, such as WINE, and click ‘configure WINE.’ 

Once this is achieved, open your game. Drag the window to the screen you want to play on and launch your compatibility layer while remaining on the secondary screen. This should allow you to enjoy your gaming experience on a secondary monitor happily.

Some of these options may cause you may run into further difficulty. This is dependent more on the hardware you’re playing on specifically the graphics card. It’s unlikely you’ll meet much resistance, and it is not impossible.

Related: Sound is just as important to the gaming experience, for a rich, immersive experience, look at the best Xbox One gaming headsets or the best PlayStation 4 gaming headsets, they work on PCs too.

Final thoughts

Well, there you have it. It isn’t that hard now, is it? Now you can play your games on whatever screen makes you comfortable. Go on and slay that dragon, fight in battles, and explore worlds. Happy gaming!

This article was last updated on September 1, 2020 .

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Written by

Writing full time from home, Charl has plenty of time to tinker around the house, whipping up something in the kitchen or enhancing the garden. As a result, he writes extensively on topics related to the home and garden. He enjoys modern technology and advanced gadgets but still has a soft spot for quality reliable appliances. He is passionate about durability and quality going to great lengths to find the very best ideas and leading products to share with readers.

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