I went to the Settingsmanager and selected Display. The external display was listed there. So I selected Use this output (see Screenshot) and after hitting apply the notebook screen was cloned to the external display.

But what I wanted was for it to be expanded, not cloned.

Unfortunately I cannot find any option for that.

Is there such an option?

Greatful for any hints!

  • Maybe, like me, you can also use Dispel: askubuntu.com/questions/82601/… – maniat1k13 Dec 29 '11 at 22:07
  • This question is out-dated as of Xubuntu 13.04 (or something); monitor switching has been in XFCE since 2012: webupd8.org/2012/11/… . When I plug in an external display, I can hit fn+f7 (monitor symbol) and get a switcher where I can choose if I want clone or extend; in system settings→screen I can also choose to have that switcher pop up every time I connect an external monitor. Is there a way to mark questions only relevant to unsupported versions of Ubuntu? – unhammer Feb 14 '17 at 7:40
  • And here's an updated answer: askubuntu.com/a/883190/25639 – unhammer Feb 14 '17 at 8:13

If you ran into the same situation like me:

  1. Enter xrandr into your terminal and figure the name of your laptop screen and the name of your external screen. Mine were VGA-0 for the laptop and LVDS for the external one.
  2. While you are on it you can figure the resolutions supported by both devices.

  3. Create an executable script somewhere on your computer and name it e.g. dual_monitor.sh.

  4. Put the following commands into the script. The comments should explain what is for what!

    # This sets your VGA1 monitor to its best resolution.
    xrandr --output VGA-0 --mode 1280x1024 --rate 60
    # This sets your laptop monitor to its best resolution.
    xrandr --output LVDS --mode 1400x1050--rate 60
    # Put the Laptop right, VGA1 monitor left
    # xrandr --output VGA1 --left-of LVDS1
    # Put the Laptop left, VGA1 monitor right
    xrandr --output LVDS --left-of VGA-0
    # This sets your laptop monitor as your primary monitor.
    xrandr --output LVDS --primary
    # This sets your VGA monitor as your primary monitor.
    # xrandr --output VGA1 --primary

    Just comment out what you don't want and uncomment what you need and you will be done - after running this script!

I got this solution from here and here.

  • @Thomas: Sure! :-) – Aufwind Dec 31 '11 at 14:28
  • How do you reply to posts? guess I'll just add this. .. Regarding grandr ... how do you get it to SAVE those settings so you don't have to redo the monitor layout everytime you reboot? – user45087 Feb 5 '12 at 15:33

Use the graphic interface of xrandr, called grandr. Install it as follows:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grandr

Then go to systems -> Multiple Screens in the Xubuntu menu.

Here you can turn off the "Auto" checkboxes for the different displays and extend the layout in the layout screen. It works very well (Xubuntu 11.10 / Thinkpad x220).

  • I also recommend grandr. A simple package of only 134 kb, which allows for easy settings and customization. Also fixed a problem where my monitors would turn blank after suspend-resume. – Treepata Feb 3 '12 at 13:12
  • Perhaps you want to reply to @user45087 question which he phrased as an answer, since he is not (yet) able to comment because of lack of reputation. :-) So I thought I just ping you for that. – Aufwind Feb 5 '12 at 18:13
  • 14
    Couldn't find package in Xubuntu 12.04. I instead installed the arandr package, and that worked great. – Zachary Schuessler Jul 30 '12 at 19:47
  • 1
    As Zachary wrote, on Xubuntu 13.04 also works arandr. – Awi May 2 '13 at 13:01

For Xubuntu 13.04, the GUI frontend to xrandr is "ARandr"; works perfect!

apt-get install arandr

enter image description here

  • I would add that with arandr you can save layouts to shell file. I have put several commonly used screen configs on my desktop. I just click a script when I want to do presentation on VGA projector. – gertas Apr 20 '14 at 18:19
  • 1
    True. Infact, using this script created by arandr, I tried to create another shell script which would automatically set the correct configuration when an external monitor is plugged in or off, without the need to manually run the script. However, I was not able to completely do it. If you are able to do so, kindly let me know. – Pushpak Dagade Apr 25 '14 at 6:33
  • Or at least using keys like in Windows. That would be awesome. Could you share gist of what you have done already? – gertas Apr 25 '14 at 6:56
  • gist.github.com/guanidene/11372941 This script automatically detects if my external monitor is connected & accordingly configures the display. I only need to run the script every time I connect/disconnect my external monitor. (To use the script, you might have to make slight changes to the script as per your external monitor resolution.) What is missing is how to make this script run automatically when I connect/disconnect my external monitor. I had found some way to do this, but it didn't work for me on my Xubuntu 13.04. Perhaps you can help. – Pushpak Dagade Apr 28 '14 at 14:04

Xubuntu: It is a very simple solution to extend or expand your desktop to a new monitor!

You have to go to Settings Manager and select Settings Editor. Then choose display. We will declare wich one is the main monitor and check active the second monitor.
The "X" value of the second monitor will be the end of the size of the main monitor. It can know in the resolution.
Then if, for example, I have a netbook with 1024x600 resolution monitor, I have to tell that the second monitor begin in 1024 ("X" value), writing it in the "X" value of the "X" position field of the second monitor.
You have to exit your session an log in again to take effect.
See the image below! How to extends or expand your desktop in xubuntu


I had the same problem and I've solved it thanks to Aufwind's advice. However, I had a problem with bottom menu (it was impossible to open it, because bottom of the screen was "below" the physical display) and I was not satisfied with the "automatization" level of that solution too, so I wrote a Python script to solve my problem and - in general - make it easier to switch to dual-display mode:

    ./displaymanager.py -m dual -i "LVDS1;1366x768;60" -e "HDMI1;1920x1080;60"

and back to single display, with one command:

    ./displaymanager.py -m single -i "LVDS1;1366x768;60" -e "HDMI1"

It puts external display to the right by default - to put it to the left use argument:

    -o "ei"

You can bind both commands to - i.e. - menu items (activators?) to use it in a comfortable way.

I'm still working on some little fixes to make in more general in use.

You can find it on https://github.com/regispl/displaymanager + short README I hope it will help someone ;)


For people looking to save the xrandr dual head settings for future logins, simply make the script above executable with

chmod +x dual_monitor.sh

Then go to the xfce panel menu at Settings > Settings manager > Session and startup > Application autostart.

Then add the executable script to the list. If this doesn't work for you, let me know. I have another python script that I use instead. ;-)

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