Dual monitor disaster

 R -

I had dual monitors set up but I lost a monitor. I went to fix the settings back to one monitor, but apparenty I gave the missing monitor primary status. Now I can't login at all, b/c the login isn't showing up on my remaining monitor. I can't access the Start menu or Control Panel to fix this.

Any tips on how to handle this disaster?

I've done dumber stuff, but not lately...

Thanks for any help I can get here.

21 replies

Hi, I have had a similar problem. Follow these steps and it should work:
  • Reboot PC, and presss F8 button repeatedly to enter safe mode menu
  • Choose Safe Mode with Networking Support
  • Sign in as usual to PC, as safe mode resets your default settings for display drivers
  • Right click on Computer, choose Properties and then Device Properties
  • Locate graphics card on list (will be under display adaptor)
  • Right click, and "uninstall".
  • Check to "Delete Software Also"
  • When completed, choose "Restart Later"
  • Click on the "Detect Hardware Changes" button in the Device Manager screen
  • Let the card set up again, then this time restart the pc.
  • Should be sorted - failing that the only thing to do is a roll-back.
Thank you

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alt+ spacebar + M worked for me.. ty so much.... ppl who still need help thats what u do:

1 press "start" button
2 than press "c"
3 press "alt" + "spacebar" + "m'
4 wait a moment
5 use "left" "right" arrows to trag "control panel" to ur screen
6 open "Appearance and Themes"
7 open "Display"
8 go to "settings"
9 change monitor

u r welcome!!!!
There's another easier way out.
Right click on the window which is being projected onto the non-existent monitor and select move, now use the arrow keys on the keyboard to move the window, back to your monitor.
This also works for any application that thinks it is still on a non-existant monitor.
how do u select anything in a winmdow u cant SEE ?
me too - great tip!!! :-)
Many years later, but thanks!
Same as J. Many years later - bu still relevant. Thanks

the Alt+SpaceBar works great...
Dual monitor disaster - if you haven't solved this problem yet - one idea is to simply plug the good monitor into the other VGA plug.

This will not resolve the issue of the screens that try to come up on the missing monitor - you might have to do some voodoo dance to make this work...
1. Right-click the task item (bottom of the primary screen)
2. If the option to move the screen is not available, click on RESTORE
3. Right-click on the task item (again if you did item 2)
4. Click MOVE to move that screen
5. Using your keyboard arrow-keys, use the up, down, left, and/or right keys to move the screen into view
6. Once you bring the window into view, press the <ENTER> key to undo the MOVE action
7. You should now be able to move the window with your mouse
8. Be sure to close the window while NOT maximized so that Windows will start it up in the visible monitor
I used the System Restore to undo the exact same thing. My settings were moved back to two days before and it completely solved my problems. It's the first time I ever used this method and I have to say it saved my bacon.
I had recently tried to set up duel-monitors on my vista and ended up with the background image on my laptop, but no desktop. I'm guessing the second monitor was primary but something didn't work in the syncing and I didn't have either monitor to work with. I got it to open in safe mode but didn't have any luck changing the settings.

After reading through this thread I started spelunking:
-I went into "safe mode with networking"
-right-clicked on "computer"
-chose properties
-I then went into the "device manager"
-chose the "display" drop-down
-right-clicked on the NVIDIA option
-I chose "disable" and tried restarting the computer again.
It worked.

I don't know if this is a great solution since I have no idea why it did that but for now all I know is I've got a working laptop again.
thanx heaps for that, I SOME HOW managed to set my laptop to not the default moniter, same as you I had backgrund image but no icons/taskbar etc etc. I followed your instructions and it seams to be fixed!!
err or just switch monitor cables around

i had this same problem .. but I took me a lil while to understand it.. anyways thank u

my problem was that I had a laptop with broken lcd so I used to plug a crt monitor with it .

i dont know what possesed me to change the settings so I enabled [extend my windows desktop onto this monitor]
after enabling this my monitor blackd out for 5 6 seconds and when the screen came back I cant see taskbar or any icons and even right click menu items were not working but when I plugged another display device I was able to view with the normal settings ..[i searched this trick using a spare monitor]
my laptop is dell latitude d600

soo I followed this trick
I pressed the windows button [next to alt]
then pressed C
Once you get Control Panel open you're ready to start moving the window. Here's the procedure:

1. Press Alt+Spacebar to open the control menu in the window's upper-left corner.
2. Press the M key (for Move).
3. Using the arrow keys, move the Control Panel window, "dragging" it from the dark primary screen to the working secondary one. (You'll probably need to drag it to the right.)
This procedure is fixing the following problem:
Second Display shows "Out of Range" when Laptop lid is closed or you accidently lost access to the Control Panel as a result of changing display resolution.
This is what happened to me. I setup my older NEC Flat Screen monitor (supports up to 1280 x 1024 resolution) as a secondary display to my laptop with nVIDIA Quardro FX360M video card. My laptop was configured in a way that when the lid was closed it continued to run. NEC monitor was setup as an exact clone of my laptop’s display so I could close my laptop and work only with the secondary screen and external keyboard/mouse. When the lid was closed the secondary monitor continued showing the 1280 x 1024 resolution screen. Everything was OK until I changed the resolution to a higher number on my NEC flat screen WHILE THE LID WAS CLOSED! You should realize that there is a difference between changing the resolution while the laptop’s lid is open and while it’s closed. When the lid is closed the secondary monitor acts as it’s the only one available, as with the lid open you would see both monitors’ configurations (this applies to setting the secondary monitor as a clone of the primary one). The worst part is that the system remembers this new resolution for the closed lid situation and it is different from the open lid case.
In my case I lost access to the configuration with the lid closed. The display would turn black with the blinking “Out of range” message. NO REBOOT, SAFE MODE, RESTORE CONFIGURATION WORKED FOR ME. I even tried to hookup a newer monitor that I borrowed (which supported this higher resolution and would allow me to get to the display configuration dialog box) and change the resolution back to 1280 x 1024 with the lid closed. It did not work. As soon as I hooked up my NEC monitor and closed the lid it went back to the black screen. The system remembers settings per a particular monitor!
When the lid was open I could see both desktops but my goal was to get back to working with the lid closed and avoid the distraction of a constantly blinking light from under the lid while browsing.
So, before setting up the second monitor, perform the following procedure and write down (on paper) what keys you had to press to get to the Control Panel/Display Resolution
1. Open the Start menu by pressing the Windows key on your keyboard (the key has a picture of the Windows logo). If your keyboard does not have this key, press Ctrl+Esc.
2. If you could see the Start menu, you would be able to use the arrow keys to select Control Panel on the Start menu and press Enter. (If you do not have a Control Panel option on your menu, you probably have a Settings option or equivalent, which can get you to Control Panel.) But you won’t be able to see the Start menu if you are working blind, so instead press the accelerator key (the key matching the underlined letter on the menu item you want) or the first letter of the menu option. Depending on your settings, you will probably press the C key for Control Panel; for Settings, the S key.
3. You may need to press the key multiple times as Windows cycles through all the options on the Start menu that respond to that key. Remember to write down how many times you had to press the key.

Once you get Control Panel open write down any additional keys you had to press to get there.
Here is my list of clicks that I had to perform while the laptop’s lid was closed:
1. Start menu button
2. 12 times letter “S” (to cycle to Settings)
3. Enter (to open Settings)
4. Enter(to open Control Panel)
5. 6 times Arrow down (to get to Display)
6. Enter
7. Shift+Tab (to get the focus up to the tabs on Display Properties dialog box)
8. 4 times Right Arrow (to get to Settings tab)
9. 3 times Tab (to get to the sliding bar for the resolution)
10. 5 times Left Arrow (to lower the resolution – this number might be different for you, depending on how high you initial resolution was)
11. 7 times Tab (to get to Apply button)
12. Enter.
It worked for me. Good luck with your situation.
What about switching the terminals the monitors are plugged in on?
Bingo. Thanks! That's exactly what my son did, very calmly, when he came by to see me one day.

Thanks for that. I was trying to hook my plasma up to the comp but then programs only appeared in the taskbar, switch the monitor over to the other connection and bingo, life was good again.
great man.. . I was just stuck with it.. and only change in terminals solved my soluton..
@ Aviral thanks for your tip. I had my laptop on dual display at home and couldn't get it to see a program when I went back to single display on the road. It was on what seemed like a ghost display and your trick worked smashingly well.

Thanks!!! The F5 Key has saved me hours of frustration.
i had a simalar problem but the alt space bar trick did the job ty
you have saved my life!
Your office network is currently wired in a physical bus topology. Because of the age of the cable, how it is routed, and physical wear and damage over time, cable plant failures are occurring almost daily. You have been authorized to buy the equipment necessary to rewire the office, including new NICs (if necessary) and connection devices. In two months, the office is expanding into additional adjoining floor space. This is a temporary move until new offices can be made ready for move- in, which is expected to happen in six or seven months. Only a few employees will be moving into the extra space, and you want to minimize the cost and effort needed to give these employees network access.

Describe the general steps you would need to take in two months to support the employees moving into the additional space.
Hi, I have had a similar problem. Follow these steps and it should work:

Reboot PC, and presss F8 button repeatedly to enter safe mode menu
Choose Safe Mode with Networking Support
Sign in as usual to PC, as safe mode resets your default settings for display drivers
Right click on Computer, choose Properties and then Device Properties
Locate graphics card on list (will be under display adaptor)
Right click, and "uninstall".
Check to "Delete Software Also"
When completed, choose "Restart Later"
Click on the "Detect Hardware Changes" button in the Device Manager screen
Let the card set up again, then this time restart the pc.
Should be sorted - failing that the only thing to do is a roll-back.
I have one screen and now when it starts its all black. If I start the computer in safe mode, its just black as well.
what do I do? your help is much appreciated.
Try booting up in safe mode, then change the display settings when you are in.
Try switching the cables on the video card ports.
Registration date
Thursday October 30, 2008
Last seen
November 1, 2008

Naw, Tried that. When hit the F8 key that is supposed to bring up the Safe mode and revert everything to default, I dont get a window that tells me to start in safe mode? I do get a window that pops up for a second, but cant see what it says it happens so fast. Is F8 the key I should hit with XP? I have a Zoltec mother board with AMD 3300 processer.I heard it may depend on what you are running hardware wise, and not just the OS.??? I know the there is something hiding in the DARK!!! LOL! I just cant see it! I really dont want to have to pay any money to have them just go OH all you had to do was this....

Thanks for anyones help they can provide. I will try anything, except paying money! to have to say..."dohhhh!!!"

to disable your dual monitor

go to Control Panel - Display - Setting - Display 2. - (unclick) Exend my Windows desktop on to this monitor

there u go... hope it help... thx...

I have similiar problem,
When first time I tried to connnect my notebook with secondary monitor was working well,
but when I unplug the VGA cable and then restart windows, my notebook monitor shown only wallpaper with no taskbar, no icons and right click doesn't work as well.

Then I tried to plugin the second monitor both showing the same background and condition the same as previous.

Tried to hit ctrl+alt+del, notification appears that "Task Manager was lock by administrator"

I have tried to use safe mode, but display was blank and can not do anything on it.

Please help,

thk and rgds,
> kolak
follow my procedure and it will resolve your problem indeed..
Registration date
Sunday January 18, 2009
Last seen
January 20, 2009
> zamad
dear Zaman, thanks for the tips.

I have tried to my notebook, but it doesn't work.
Control panel did not appear on both monitors when I press "windows" then "c".

When I was running in safe mode with network,
control panel and display setting can be run, but no option to unclick the extended display.

is there any other way to fix the problem?
> kolak
control panel does appear when u press windows key then C

after pressing c .. control panel open but u cannot see it

so press alt then press spacebar then press M .. and press the right button and hold till contol panel comes from left side to center then go in display then undo what u did ... I hope it helps
Hi Zamad,

I just wanted to say thank you. I followed your direction. I was confused at first, and then I just read and re-read your instruction. And it worked. Thanks.
Your computer must have two vgas or dvis. Just switch the monitor you have now to the missing monitors connecter (whether it be vga or dvi). This worked for me.