I have two monitors and Windows 7. Is it possible to tell Steam to open a game on my second monitor instead of the main monitor?

If that's not possible through Steam itself, is there some other way for me to control what monitor a particular game starts on? Switching to windowed mode and dragging the game over isn't always an option and I'm looking for a more robust solution.

  • Please consider editing your accepted answer to be gaming.stackexchange.com/a/230167/272514 since -it works- always boots on the right monitor, and is just adding a command line to dota (which you can do in the steam ui)
    – James
    May 21 at 17:54

11 Answers 11


With Steam's Big Picture mode you can now choose on which monitor games should be running from the settings menu in BP. Also very handy if you're playing in stereo 3D, since that also only works if the display used is the primary one.

  • 1
    Any idea how to enable the secondary monitor only when you launch big picture mode? In my case I have a TV connected to my PC as a secondary monitor, and if I'm watching TV or something it is very annoying to have my desktop extend over to the TV -- I'd love to use it only for big picture mode.
    – TM.
    Sep 15 '14 at 7:25
  • 1
    That's not possible, unless there's a 3rd party software that does that. You could just turn your 2nd screen off from the Windows settings, and only enable it, if you're about to play. I don't have that problem because my AV-Receiver is between PC and TV, and as long as that is off, the 2nd screen's status is disconnected.
    – DanMan
    Sep 15 '14 at 8:29
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    Too bad the Linux version of Big Picture does not have that setting for choosing which monitor. But you can select which monitor is the primary one (using xrandr or arandr). bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=207721 and also gaming.stackexchange.com/a/252523 Jan 20 '16 at 0:10
  • 2
    What BP mode does is to switch the primary monitor for you when it starts and switch it back when it closes. Handy! May 28 '18 at 20:30
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    SHIFT+WINKEY+ARROW keys move windows between monitors. Feb 9 '20 at 23:18

I've written TvGameLauncher, a small program that lets you run any game (including Steam) on your secondary monitor. Here's what it can do:

  • Toggle primary monitor (so that the game runs on your other monitor fullscreen)
  • Set HDMI audio playback (so that audio comes out of your TV)
  • Prevent computer sleep (so that you can play with a gamepad whose input doesn't stop sleep)
  • Darken non-game displays (so that the immersion atmosphere is maximized)
  • Launch any game executable (including Steam)
  • Revert all changes once the game exits


  • 1
    it swaps monitors, dont do dual monitors Jul 10 '16 at 21:30

When the game is first starting, press shift+WinKey and then an arrow key left or right. It'll move the window to the adjacent monitor. You have to do it every time the game starts, but it works perfectly for me.

  • 1
    This worked for me, but didn't resize the game, so it's was no longer fullscreen. Apr 27 '20 at 17:56

Looks like there's a piece of software called Gamers Window Relocator that allows you to effectively do a -noborder (to do "fake fullscreen") on any game. There is also How to force Maximized Fullscreen mode in any game?.

With the game technically in windowed mode, you should be able to alter what monitor it is displaying on fairly easily (and possibly even use multiple monitor keyboard shortcuts and the like).


I know this is a little late, but if anyone else pops in here is my two pence worth. All i do is switch my second monitor to the main display before starting the game then switch it back after I have finished. That way the game opens on my TV which is the usual second monitor.

  • 9
    That's exactly want I want to avoid doing because it's a pain in the ass
    – GibsonFX
    Oct 8 '17 at 14:09

I recently learned of an apparently recently added launch option: -sdl_displayindex <int>. In my case, adding -sdl_displayindex 1 to my Dota launch options has changed which monitor the game launch on to my secondary monitor. (Presumably my primary monitor is 0.)

  • is this a steam parameter? Jul 10 '16 at 21:25
  • 2
    @LeandroTupone It's a launch option Jul 12 '16 at 23:22
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    Appears to only work for select games.
    – Enigma
    Sep 4 '17 at 0:41
  • It's a parameter for SDL. So if the game uses SDL, and passes this parameter on, then it works.
    – foo
    Apr 20 '18 at 13:10
  • Worked perfectly for me. Thanks!
    – alex87
    Jul 25 '20 at 6:38

I haven't used it personally but from others I've talked to I believe you can use UltraMon. (There are other programs like this for example MultiMon or DualMonitor tools)

When I had an nVidia card there was a way to make it always run in the second window through the control software's options (Can't remember off the top of my head precisely.)

Other than that I'd suggest looking at each game in particular as some will have options you can set in game.


If the game will run in windowed mode (borderless or not), you can use ShiftWindow to manipulate the window. You can resize it to fill any of your screens, many of your screens and fit it so the borders aren't visible even if they're really there.

Screen capture from the software UI

You can also save and load presets, if you wish to use different window sizes or monitors for different games.

Another advantage is that this program will work with any window, it doesn't have to be a game. I mainly use it to get my League of Legends window back to my desktop after it has run off to oblivion.

  • I had to vote up this. This is excellent app and very easy to use, i like how i can set the rule and easy trigger it when i launch the game. This is the only one it worked nice for me, strange that no one voted this up 2 years already.
    – lonerunner
    Mar 20 '15 at 0:51

Ultramon is excellent for this. You can edit the properties of the shortcut where you can select which monitor the game/app will play on. Also you can have other monitors turn off for you and then back on once the game/app exits. It is worth the money to buy it.

Additional: Does not work with steam. However, with Ultrmon, you can create shortcuts to turn off other monitors. So I have a shortcut to go to GamingMode. The game has no choice other than to open on the one remaining monitor. After playing I execute the DefaultView shortcut and my other monitors turn back on.

  • 1
    I don't think this'll work with Steam, though, because the shortcut will just affect the Steam launcher.
    – Shinrai
    Aug 23 '11 at 18:12
  • Confirmed. Just tried playing Civ5. Does not work :(
    – Valamas
    Aug 23 '11 at 22:12
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    As a rule, if an application opens a window that then opens ANOTHER window, UltraMon has no way of knowing to move the second window. So, ANY kind of launcher will break this. (The application can also force-override it itself anyway, which a lot of fullscreen apps do.)
    – Shinrai
    Aug 23 '11 at 22:14

Steam now does this, check on settings.

Big Picture, Settings, Display, Target Monitor. There you have it.

  • This only sets which screen the "Big Picture" mode starts Jul 11 '16 at 23:13

So i literally Alt+Enter then dragged it to my desired screen the maximised again and now it boots to that screen.........

  • I recall this working for me at some point in the past, but it no longer does. Alt+Enter no longer toggles fullscreen and windows key is no longer obeyed.
    – James
    May 21 at 17:51

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