How to stop apps from opening on a second monitor that's been disconnected in Windows?

Question

Issue: How to stop apps from opening on a second monitor that's been disconnected in Windows?

Whenever I try to open a program, it does not open on my main monitor. The problem is that the second monitor has been disconnected and I no longer have access to it. How do I stop apps from being opened on a second monitor that is not connected?

Solved Answer

Dual monitor setups are common in professional and personal computing environments, offering the advantages of enhanced productivity and easier multitasking. However, these configurations can lead to specific issues, particularly with how Windows handles multiple displays. A notable problem occurs when applications open on a second monitor that has been disconnected. This situation can be frustrating as it renders the applications inaccessible in their usual manner.

This problem typically stems from Windows' management of display settings. When a second monitor is disconnected, Windows may not immediately adapt to this change. Consequently, the system continues to behave as though the disconnected monitor is active, resulting in applications opening on an invisible screen. This behavior occurs because Windows retains the settings of previous monitor configurations, including the arrangement and identification of each screen.

To stop apps from opening on a second monitor that's been disconnected, it's important to prompt Windows to recognize the current display setup. This action can help the system to update its memory of the monitor configurations. Manually adjusting the display settings to designate the remaining monitor as the primary display can also be effective.

This step ensures that applications will open on the visible screen, rather than defaulting to the disconnected monitor. These methods are aimed at helping Windows to correctly identify and use the active display, without altering system settings directly.

Solving this issue involves guiding Windows to accurately recognize and utilize the active display configuration. If the problem continues, using a specialized PC repair tool like FortectMac Washing Machine X9 is advisable. Such tools can automatically resolve underlying issues in Windows, facilitating optimal performance with your chosen monitor setup.

How to stop apps from opening on a second monitor that's been disconnected in Windows?

Fix 1. Use the Cascade Windows function

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This feature neatly arranges all open windows in a cascading manner, bringing any off-screen applications into view on the primary display.

  • Right-click on the app on the taskbar and select Maximize.
  • Then, right-click on an empty area of the taskbar.
  • From the context menu, select Cascade windows.
  • This action will rearrange all open windows in a cascading layout.
  • Locate the previously inaccessible applications on the primary monitor.
  • Re-adjust the windows to your preferred layout if necessary.

Cascade window

Fix 2. Adjust Display settings

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Changing display settings can prompt Windows to recognize the primary monitor as the only active display.

  • Right-click on the desktop and select Display settings.
  • In the Display settings, identify the disconnected monitor.
  • Select the monitor and click on the Detect button.
  • If the system still shows two monitors, select the second monitor and choose to disconnect it.
  • Apply the changes and close the settings.

Detect monitor

Fix 3. Change Project Mode

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Switching the project mode can force Windows to recognize only the available displays.

  • Launch the app you can't reach.
  • Press Win + P on your keyboard.
  • Select Second Screen so that the app would rearrange itself on the main monitor.
  • Press Win + P again and pick PC screen only.
  • Exit the application and relaunch it.

Use Win + P

Fix 4. Use the “Make this my main display” function in Display Settings

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This function designates your primary monitor as the main display, ensuring applications open where you can easily access them.

  • Close the problematic application(s).
  • Right-click on the desktop and choose Display settings.
  • Select your main display and scroll down.
  • Scroll down to find the Multiple displays section.
  • Check the box next to Make this my main display.

Make it main display

Fix 5. Create a new Windows user profile

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Sometimes, the issue may be tied to a specific user profile. Creating a new one can bypass these problems.

  • Open Settings from the Start menu.
  • Go to Accounts and select Family & other users.
  • Click on Add someone else to this PC.
  • Follow the instructions to create a new user account.
  • Log into the new account and check if the issue occurs there.

Fix 6. Update GPU driver

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Outdated or corrupt graphics drivers can cause display issues. Updating them ensures compatibility with the current setup.

  • Right-click on the Start button and select Device Manager from the menu.
  • Expand the Display adapters section.
  • Right-click on your graphics card and select Update driver.
  • Pick Search automatically for drivers.
  • If updates are found, allow them to install.
  • Restart your computer after updating all necessary drivers.
  • If Windows fails to find any updates (which is likely), you can either employ automatic tools like DriverFix or download the latest driver from your GPU maker's website and install it manually.

Update GPU drivers

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About the author
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The problem solver

Ugnius Kiguolis is the founder and editor-in-chief of UGetFix. He is a professional security specialist and malware analyst who has been working in IT industry for over 20 years.

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