Sometimes you need to try dumb things. I thought it was dumb to even consider having three screens at once on my MacBook Pro Retina but it turns that not only does it work, it works very well for me. I’ve tried it before but today I stumbled onto the thing that works for me.
I’m currently working on a project where I need a lot of screen space to display the outputs from a bunch of stuff. I’ve been using 27″ & 24″ monitors in a dual screen setup for a year or so. But I also need to read a lot of manuals / documentation / textbooks and I find using the Retina screen to be MUCH superior and easier on my old and tired eyes (which aren’t working so well these days).
The “trick” was to put the Retina screen at the bottom of the two larger monitors. The Thunderbolt is used as the main screen and leaves the Retina dedicated to “reading” instead of “looking”.
My version of OS X Mountain Lion lets the mouse seamlessly move between all three screens when it’s configured this way – took me a while to realise that other layouts made the mouse hard to use.
Managing Apps on the Screen
I should note that this much real estate takes a lot of effort to move things around. I’ve previously written about Sizeup and Mercury Mover which lets me drive my screen layout through the keyboard. I’m still considering Moom but it doesn’t quite work as well as SizeUp. I also use LaunchBar as my keyboard launcher to quickly switch between applications.
Also, you should increase the mouse tracking speed (choose your personal tolerance for the acceleration, may take a while to get used to faster tracking).
Using these tools I can navigate between the windows quickly and with low levels of friction. Two screens is difficult without a lot of keyboard shortcuts but three really requires extra tools to move around the your “estate”.
Here is a photo of my desk today.
Since many people ask, you can find a more comprehensive list of my Mac software choices on forum.packetpushers.net where I list out most of current choices for OS X software.
Yeah, I’m lucky to have all of this equipment. But I’m a believer in investing in my own tools to make myself more productive. I’m self employed as a contractor/freelancer/consultant and I choose not to rely on my employer to provide me with decent technology and suitable tools (because they never do). Plus, being