Macbook Pro + Windows + Dual Monitors = Painful

I didn't think it would be so hard to just get my taskbar and icons on a second monitor using Windows on my Macbook Pro. It doesn't seem like a whole lot of people run Windows on the Mac, so there isn't a whole lot of resources if you get stuck. It takes a lot of digging to find the real answers. Turns out the display drivers from NVIDIA/Apple for Windows don't support making an external monitor as a primary monitor. It only gives the option of making the laptop display primary. This limitation is very painful and kept me up for hours/days searching for registry hacks, hacked drivers, and more. Here's what I found that didn't work and what did:

Registry hack: Fail = True;

The Apple nVidia driver INF file is missing 2 registry entries for using external display as primary in a dual display setup. The keys you need are:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Video{C0FF928A-9E27-40AE-845F-E0D8A8E03216}\0000 "DualViewAllow2ndViewAsPrimary"=dword:00000001 "DualViewMobile"=dword:00000002

Do not import these lines directly. Do them manually via REGEDIT. The hardware ID (C0FF928A-9E27-40AE-845F-E0D8A8E03216) is different in every system, so put the keys in the correct video hardware key in your system.

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Turns out Windows didn't like the registry hack and I couldn't get anything up on the display, even though I was able to get the primary display option on my external monitor with the hack. I also had to guess which hardware ID to use, since there were 5 hardware key options. I tried the logical one with a lot of registry entries for display modes/settings under the 0000 folder.

Updated Supported Drivers: Fail = True; Again I began searching for something else, but there's not a whole lot of information on this topic. I contemplated installing a different set of drivers for Windows, but the one I found referenced from Apples discussion page was older than the current driver I have now. There was a recent update for Boot Camp to 2.1 this summer which looks like it included new NVIDIA drivers.

Updated Un-supported Drivers: Fail = True; Not having a real solution from Apple I looked into the drivers from however I found a few posts that said it didn't help or wasn't performing as well. I'm doing game development (XNA) on my laptop and I don't want to ruin a working system or introduce incompatibilities; so stability is very important for me at the moment. I decided to try and avoid non-standard drivers and look for another alternative.

nView Desktop Manager: Success = True; nView Desktop Manager Here is the solution that I had been looking for; it was something I found last year, but forgot about since I didn't have dual monitors. To enable it you'll need to go to 'Control Panel' -> 'NVIDIA nView Desktop Manager' -> click 'Enable'. Now you should see the nView Properties option when you right click on your desktop and you've just opened a whole can of worms for customizing your desktop.

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  • You can move your Taskbar/icons to your second display by the 'Tools' tab and 'Move to Display' button.
  • Set multiple desktop backgrounds using the 'Desktops' tab and the Properties button. There's a check box to 'Allow different backgrounds per display'
  • Hotkeys to perform various tasks related to windows management
  • Profiles to save/load settings when switching between a dual monitor/single display setup.
  • Transparency effects on window drags and more...

Edit: As much as I'd like this solution to work all the time; it still has bugs. Dialogs on different applications appear on the laptop display and the software can sometimes be glitchy for the development work I'm doing. WinForms development with Visual Studio 2005 Express seems to bug it out the most and causes Icons to flicker. I'm not sure if that flicker is because of the dual monitor setup or from WinForm editing in VS 2005.

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