Vertical monitors are a growing trend with multiple monitor setups whether its for the workspace or at home. Many activities will gain a productivity boost from making the switch. Can your occupation benefit from such a set up? Actually, just about anyone can find some benefit.
Should your second monitor be vertical? A vertical monitor can increase productivity for coding, editing documents, and all kinds of reading including documents, eBooks, forums, emails, web pages, and chat messages.
Occupations that can benefit the most include programmers, developers, writers and editors, lawyers, professors, teachers and students, streamers, and even real estate brokers and stock traders.
However, it is absolutely your preference to use a vertical second monitor.
Let’s go through the pros and cons so you can make the decision for yourself. I’ve even included screenshot comparisons of the vertical vs. horizontal monitor screen for many applications for a productivity analysis.
We’ll also take a look at whether you can convert your existing monitor to a vertical configuration as well as the best vertical monitors you can buy on the market.
Finally, I’ll give you a step by step setup guide. I hope this article serves as a one stop shop for all your vertical monitor needs.
Benefits of Using a Vertical Monitor
The horizontally dominant aspect ratios of monitors stem from the usage history. Specifically, the dominant usage of computers for movies and video games.
However, as computers grew more capable and became relevant for literally everything we do, a lot of people found benefits of having the screen oriented vertically.
|Increased screen real estate for text – You are able to fit more lines of text on the screen at one time.||Potential increase in glare from light sources.|
|Supports natural eye movement for reading – When reading horizontally, your eyes travel a longer distance left to right. With a vertical screen eye movements are much shorter and quicker, allowing for natural eye motion like reading a book.||Increased cost – Monitors with stands that allow both orientations are more expensive. Converting an only horizontal monitor to vertical will require an addition mounting arm.|
|Less eye movement leads to increased productivity – Your eyes do not get tired as quickly allowing you to work longer.||Cheap monitors can result in backlight bleed in vertical position.|
|Ads occupy less space – Ad placements are done with horizontal screen resolutions in mind. With a vertical monitor they’ll tend to take up less space on the screen.||Screen can be adjusted to fewer angles due to horizontal centric design.|
|Better split screen experience – When you put two applications side by side on a horizontal screen, they both tend to get more squished then we’d like on smaller monitors. They actually turn out a lot better on a vertical monitor (example below).||Not supported by all monitors – You have to buy specialized monitors which cost more, or buy a mount. Read below for more details.|
So there are both benefits and drawbacks. However, this kinds of factual comparison is probably not enough to motivate you to try a vertical monitor. We need to see some real examples.
7 Real Use Cases (Side by Side Picture Analysis)
Let’s take a look at some real world use cases side by side. We’ll be able to see what the benefits and drawbacks are for specific applications and provide you with key insights for your use cases. Keep in mind though that these results are based on a 24″ 1440p resolution monitor and your mileage may vary depending on your specific monitor and application settings.
Software Development / Coding
Vertical monitors are perhaps most popular currently amongst programmers and software developers and you can see why. In the horizontal view, I can see 26 lines of code, but in the vertical view I can see 59. That’s a whopping 227% increase.
Another nice thing about this is the toolbox at the bottom of the program occupies a smaller percentage of the screen. This allows you to focus more on the important area that is the code.
The same applies to the pesky adverts on websites. How many times have you been annoyed by the banner ads at the bottom of a webpage take away your precious real estate. In the vertical orientation, these ads become significantly less noticeable.
Reading eBooks and Documents
If you do a lot of reading on the computer, regardless of what you are reading, it is scientifically more productive to use a vertical monitor. Here’s the two reasons why.
First, when you finish reading a line, it takes your eyes some number of milliseconds to trace back to the beginning of the next line. With a vertical orientation, this distance is significantly reduced. That means every time you read a new line, you are saving time. You are able to read a page of text measurable faster! This is why programs like Microsoft Word now default to a dual page view when your monitor is big enough.
Secondly, the range of movement for your eyes is significantly reduce when the screen is vertical, proportional to the screen width. This directly translates to your eyes not getting tired as quickly which means you can work longer.
Chat and Instant Messaging
A lot of streamers these days use a vertical monitor in their workspaces exactly for this benefit. You can see a lot more chat and chat history. This allows you to be able to track messages longer before losing them to scroll up land.
The same applies to instant messaging apps like messenger and watsapp.
When it comes to view websites, whether its social media or not, here’s the truth of the matter these days. Websites are being designed to be viewed on mobile and tablets. You’ll see many websites on the computer not utilizing the full screen width. They are also trying to ensure that the website fits well on monitors of all sizes and resolutions. That’s why there’s a whole lot of empty space on the left and the right of many websites.
Vertical orientations take advantage of this. Not only can you see more content, the content size doesn’t have to scale down because the space you give up is taken from the empty banners. That’s as much of a win- win as it gets.
On my computer, I have increased from being able to see 6 full posts to 15 full posts with a vertical orientation, a 250% increase. This is the future for social media.
In a lot of the social media websites, we’ll see the same benefits of increased content at the same time and better screen real estate usage for the content. The trend I am seeing with my monitor is around 2.5x increase in content!
If you use social media daily, you may have noticed a trend popping up with different platforms. A lot of these platforms are moving towards short form video content. There’s Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube Shorts, etc. All of these are designed to be best viewed on mobile.
That means a vertical monitor will be able to display them a lot better and display more at the same time.
Having a split screen view of multiple apps also benefits from a vertical orientation. This applies more towards apps that contain a lot of text for reading. In the horizontal split screen view, the text becomes squished and hard to read. Many people opt for ultra wide monitors that are designed to improve this experience.
Vertically oriented monitors provide a better experience overall for this use case. Usually the height of the monitor is larger than half of the horizontal width, allowing multiple apps to fit horizontal content better in a split screen view.
Applications and their designs are constantly being improved. We are finding new uses for vertical orientation monitors with more and more applications. In the following video, a vertical monitor is shown to aid the video editing process.
Of course if you are looking to watch videos or movies and play games on your monitor, you need a horizontal screen. There’s not much sense to a having a vertical monitor if you only have one monitor, unless you never watch videos or play games.
Do Vertical Monitors Provide a Productivity Boost?
Absolutely. I’ve shown case by case for many different applications above how each can benefit from a vertical orientation.
If you are looking to make efficiency enhancements in your line of work, consider a vertical monitor. Occupations that use computers on the daily will probably find benefit.
Can You Make Your Existing Monitor Vertical?
Unless you have a business monitor, chances are your monitor will not support a vertical orientation by default.
This is nothing to worry about since most of us are in this category and I have a solution for you coming right up.
Monitors for general consumers tend to be cheaper and not having this feature is one of the reasons why. However, you aren’t going to know for sure unless you check the specs for your monitor online.
If you happen to have a monitor that supports vertical orientation with the built in stand, congratulations! You can try a vertical orientation very easily. Just follow my instructions below to switch you screen orientation in your computer settings, change the physical orientation, and you are good to go!
What If My Monitor Does Not Support Vertical Orientation?
If you are like me and your monitor doesn’t support a vertical orientation, there is still hope.
If your monitor supports standard VESA mounting, you can buy a cheap monitor arm for your desk. The arm will allow you to use both horizontal and vertical orientations and free up a lot of desk space since you’ll be getting rid of the built in monitor stand.
If your monitor doesn’t have a VESA mount, you may be able to find an adapter for your mount type and then use the monitor arm. It will be slightly more expensive, but both of these solutions are still cheaper than purchasing a new monitor.
But if you are in the market for a new monitor, you may want to plan for the future and buy one that comes with vertical orientation capability. I’ve already done the market research and found some of the best ones for you.
Are There Monitors Not Suited To Be Used Vertically?
Turning a monitor to portrait mode is a function of the software. I tell you exactly how to do it in all major operating systems below. However, there are some monitor panels more suited to be turned vertically from those monitors that are not designed for this purpose.
TN panels have very small viewing angles and this can pose a problem in the vertical orientation. You may be very limited to its placement in order to see the entire screen well. I would recommend to use an IPS or VA panel monitor.
Best Vertical Monitors On The Market in 2021
So you want to give vertical monitors a try, or you are an avid user, but you want to have the option of switching to horizontal as needed. These are the monitors you should be looking at first!
Other Dual Monitor Related Considerations
Another questions people (especially gamers) have is whether their second monitor should be 144 Hz. I wrote an article explaining all about monitor refresh rate and answering this questions here.
You may also be wondering what size of desk you should get for a dual monitor setup. Here’s my article explaining just that.
How To Set Up A Vertical Monitor (Step by Step Instructions)
If your monitor supports vertical orientation with the default stand, you’ll just need to rotate the screen physically and adjust the position to your liking.
Monitor Arm Setup
- Install your monitor mount on your desk following the provided instructions.
- Attach your monitor to the mount with the screws provided.
- Adjust the tension screws to support the weight of the monitor
- Adjust the orientation to vertical and the position as per your liking
Software Settings (Windows Operating System)
- Right click on your desktop and select ‘Display settings’
- In the ‘Display orientation’ dropdown, select ‘Portrait’
Software Settings (mac OS)
- Open ‘System Preferences’ dialog from the Apple menu
- Double Click on the ‘Displays’. A dialog is display on each monitor
- In the ‘Rotation’ dropdown, select the ’90’ option for the desired monitor
Software Settings (Ubuntu Linux)
- Open the ‘Displays’ panel (Click on the ‘Activities’ overview at the top left of the screen and type displays)
- Select the display you want to change the orientation of
- Select the ‘Clockwise’ option from the ‘Rotation’ dropdown
Hamid Tahir is a Mechatronics Engineer and founder of WFH Overload. He is currently working from home and is dedicated to the continuous improvement of his home office setup. Hamid has extensive experience setting up workspaces and dealing with the related tech. He hopes to share his knowledge to help you create the most productive and comfortable work from home setup. Read More