I have a Windows 8 laptop which I play Sins of a Solar Empire on and I want to move it to my second monitor which is connected via a VGA cable. How would I do that? Windows + shift + or does move normal windows from monitor to monitor but it doesn't move my game for some reason. The game is full screen. Any idea how?

  • 9
    Fullscreen games tend to be limited to the primary monitor (primary output). You can move windowed games to another monitors at some performance cost though. If you set the window to borderless, it will look just fine.
    – JBeurer
    Nov 2, 2013 at 15:56
  • @JBeurer hm oh man, okay, thanks. You can make that an answer and I will mark this thread as answered. Nov 2, 2013 at 16:51
  • Have you tried looking in the games display settings?
    – MadMrCrazy
    Feb 13, 2016 at 2:15
  • 1
    Thanks for the hint with Windows+shift+arrows. Works for me for the game "Distance Beta"
    – lucidbrot
    May 12, 2016 at 18:46

12 Answers 12


I may have a solution/workaround if you're using windows 8.1:

  1. Make your "secondary" (the one you want the game to display the game on) as primary.
  2. Right-click your taskbar and unlock it.
  3. Drag and drop your "primary" taskbar (The one with the clock) to your now secondary monitor (the one you don't want the game to be displayed on)
  4. Right-click your taskbar and go to properties, and go to the navigation tab.
  5. Check the box stating: "Show Start on the display I'm using when i go to Start and hit OK or Apply
  6. Drag and drop all your icons from your now Primary monitor to the now secondary monitor.

This makes the secondary monitor feel like the primary, and the games start on the "secondary" monitor.

Windows should treat this as a "profile" which means that when you unplug your external monitor your icons and taskbar should stay on the correct screen, and when you plug it back in, it should go to the defined settings, but I'm not sure about this.

I hope this helps.

  • 8
    This is perfect for people who have their crap monitor on the left, but have it set as primary purely to position the task bar.
    – will
    May 26, 2014 at 10:42
  • this answer is the correct way to do it. In addition, you can drag the images of the 2 monitors around on this screen to align them left-right/right-left which helps with pixel alignment when you move from screen to screen. (e.g. if you've one monitor that's 1080 high and another that's 1200 and they don't align. Jun 8, 2014 at 10:36
  • 4
    This forces me to use another monitor as my default. It is definitely not the correct way to do it (I understand I can maintain my desired geometry, but it will have many other side effects such as making that monitor the monitor I log in on, etc.) -- This is a decent workaround, but it is clearly not the "right" way to do it. Oct 29, 2014 at 21:32
  • 1
    "Check the box stating: "Show Start on the display I'm using when i go to Start and hit OK or Apply" - I wonder what is the corresponding setting for Windows 7. Jul 28, 2016 at 23:56
  • @IlyaBobyr You do not need to set that setting on Windows 7, or Windows 10 unless you have tablet mode enabled (to have the Windows 8 start screen)
    – Ajay
    Aug 4, 2017 at 20:57
  1. Launch Game.
  2. Hit Alt + Enter.
  3. Move your windowed game across to the desired monitor.
  4. Click the game.
  5. Hit Alt + Enter.
  6. Play. Interesting solutions here. But ive never encountered a program that didnt un fullscreen from alt + Enter.
  • 11
    Trust me, there are a LOT that won't respond to Alt+Enter.
    – Frank
    Sep 7, 2014 at 13:43
  • 3
    This will basically only work with Direct3D 10/11 games, and only those that haven't disabled Alt-Enter. Direct3D 9 and earlier games have to implement Alt-Enter themselves, and those that do will likely go full screen on the primary display regardless of where the window is.
    – user86571
    Sep 7, 2014 at 14:04
  • 2
    when I hit alter enter again, fullscreen goes to the primary monitor again with gta5 bought on steam Oct 27, 2016 at 8:27
  • Not optimal too, because sometimes the game has adjusted its resolution for the old monitor and stretches it out wrong on the new monitor
    – Muz
    Jan 31, 2017 at 5:12
  • Sorry but Need For Speed Payback doesn't respect Alt+Enter.
    – iBug
    Aug 3, 2019 at 14:07

A solution I am using involves Steam. Install Steam and start it up in Big Picture mode, under display settings, select the monitor you want to play the game on. By doing this steam changes the windows primary display temporarily until you leave big picture mode. You can add non steam games to your steam library as shortcuts so you can launch any game(or any other program) via Big Picture which launches on the display you chosen.

  • 1
    This is a great response. The Big Picture mode may take some time to get used to, but it does work for this scenario. Jul 22, 2015 at 3:13
  • It's not that desirable because it eliminates the ability to multitask as normal Jul 8, 2017 at 10:47

One option is to switching your machine to "projector only" mode. Hit "windows key" + P and select projector only mode. This will treat your machine as having only one monitor (in this case, the secondary monitor).

You won't see any more output on your laptop screen, but you will be able to play the game fullscreen on your secondary monitor without performance loss.

Once your game starts, you can turn off projector mode and the game will stay on your other monitor.

  • 1
    Best solution IMO!
    – Linora
    May 28, 2016 at 0:20
  • If you have ASUS (2021) this brings up window to select and just tell it to turn off the primary and use secondary. Works great and is easy.
    – Mike Cheel
    Sep 24, 2021 at 20:29

Fullscreen games tend to be limited to the primary monitor (primary output). You can move windowed games to another monitors at some performance cost though. If you set the window to borderless, it will look just fine.

  • 3
    As a developer, I can assure you this is not correct. I've written fullscreen XNA applications that will work on any of my monitors (or multiple monitors at the same time with C++) -- in Fullscreen. Any performance hit you speak of would be due to hardware limitations of your own graphics card (for example if you have a laptop combo card), or crappy coding on the developers part. Oct 29, 2014 at 21:33
  • 3
    @BrainSlugs83: he's talking about performance hit in windowed mode due to framebuffer overhead (2x memory transfer each frame). Jan 17, 2015 at 19:47

I've automated the process of switching the primary display, switching HDMI audio and more in a small tool: https://sourceforge.net/projects/tvgamelauncher/

It's free and open source, so enjoy!


No. There is a way. First thing you have to do is configure your monitor setup (assuming you have already). After that remain on the screen resolution page. Highlight the the second monitor indicator located in the box under the heading, "Change the appearance of your displays". Once you have highlighted the second monitor, a little box should appear under the multiple displays tab that says 'make this my main display'. Check the box and click apply. Viola!

  • 2
    Good answer - although it does have a disadvantage attached, which is that now the Windows taskbar, etc., will only appear on the external monitor!
    – Flyto
    Dec 13, 2013 at 10:19
  • 1
    In Win 10 this disadvantage goes away, but the desktop icons still get transferred to the other screen. The Steam way explained by Puma does work though.
    – Serj Sagan
    Dec 19, 2015 at 2:22

You can only run the game in fullscreen on the monitor it wants to use, because fullscreen games don't draw the screen through windows desktop manager. Some games, especially newer ones, will let you set the monitor to use from game settings.

For those that don't let you do that, you can change your primary display or try borderless windowed or fullscreen windowed mode and then move the game to your other monitor. Depending on the game this could decrease or increase performance.


Windows 10 - July 2019 - I found a solution that works for me (for Steam games)

Credit goes to this guy, although the manual is not that accurate (anymore): https://forums.tomshardware.com/threads/how-to-make-games-start-on-secondary-monitor.3359865/

  1. Open Steam
  2. Click "View" -> "Big Picture Mode"
  3. Click "Settings" (in Big Picture Mode)
  4. Category Display, click "Resolution"
  5. Set the "Target Monitor" to whichever monitor you want your games to be displayed on.

Big Picture Mode needs to be used for this to work continuously (sadly), but it's the best workaround I've found.


If the answer of @rhomanugen won't work (some notebooks don't allow extern TFTs for primary display), then there's another workaround, though maybe not satisfying:

Change the resolution of the notebook display to NOT fit to the game resolution. Set the resolution of the new monitor to the game resolution.

Fullscreen should now appear on the "fitting screen".

This is how you remain two screens with a fullscreen on the second monitor (but with a commonly smaller resolution as possible on the first screen).


OK I think I found a solution. I'm not sure about windows 8, but this worked for windows 7 so I'm posting it in case it still works or some one else happens by this and it helps them.

  1. Using the windows screen settings, set the primary window to the monitor you would like to play your game on. This will put all your desktop items (taskbar, shortcuts, etc.) on that monitor.

  2. Right click on an empty space on the taskbar and make sure it is unlocked.

  3. Left click and hold on an empty space on the taskbar and drag it to a different monitor (which ever one your not using for your game).

  4. Select and drag all your desktop shortcuts to the same monitor in step 3.

  5. voila, your ready to go. In order to utilize the other desktop while playing, you may have to make your game windowed vice full screen.


In short, the answer is you probably can't, not without using external software. Make it your primary display.

Most laptops have a monitor key that is accessed by holding the function (Fn) button. This is used to send the display to the external output and if your lucky, you have the option to send it to both or either one at a time (by pressing it again). Also, most laptops do this automatically if an external display is attached and you close them, but you may have to set it that way in control panel (and tell it not to sleep when closed).

Hold the Fn key: enter image description here and press whatever key has what looks like a monitor (usually in blue), like on these F5 keys:

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