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How to keep a monitor as primary OR how to ignore "attached" status in Windows XP

Posted on 2010-04-06
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Last Modified: 2013-11-08
I have a Nvidia GT220 video card in a Dell Optiplex GX620 SFF PC, as an HTPC.  I have it connected via HDMI, to my HK AVR254 receiver, which is then connected to my projector via HDMI as well.   This has been working great, turn off my AVR and my PJ and turn them back on, switch to the right inputs, and I get video off the HTPC every time.

I have now added a SECONDARY display to the HTPC - a small LCD hooked up to the VGA port of the same GT220 video card.  I have it setup as the secondary monitor in Windows, with the PJ on HDMI as Primary, like it was before.  And this also works great.

UNTIL I turn off my PJ and AVR (I tend to leave the HTPC on at all times).   Pretty much right after, Windows flags my AVR via HDMI as no longer "attached" in the display properties, and automatically makes the secondary display, the small LCD on VGA, the primary monitor.  This moves all the icons over, task bar, any programs on the primary to secondary, etc. To get the primary via HDMI working again, I gotta go into display properties, mark it as "attached", set resolution, set it primary, etc... a huge PITA!  

I want to avoid having to do that...  figure that means either making Windows ignore, the "attached" status of the HDMI connection, OR telling it no matter what, to keep the HDMI connection the primary one.  Or something else, I'm not sure, but that's why I'm here... I've lost a lot of hair and time trying to find a solution.  If it takes buying software to allow this i'm ok with that, but I would definitely prefer NOT to change OS, or add or change any hardware....  Seems so simple, but I guess not!

Thanks very much in advance!
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Question by:Protonus
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by:PCDOCAZ
ID: 29988314
Have you tried setting it up that way in the Nvidia control panel as opposed to your display settings?  I had a similar issue with my secondary monitor defaulting back to my primary display (moving all icons over, etc..) and using the Nvidia control panel instead took care of it for me.  Let me know.
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by:Protonus
ID: 29989512
Yes, I have unfortunately.  It just seems, at least for the driver for this card (I am running the latest driver btw), that it's just a conduit to the windows display settings.  Haven't had any result or seen any difference in setting it up in "nView" vs Windows, and one seems to effect the other.  Not really any options here to speak of.  Took a screen shot though in case I'm in the wrong spot.  Thanks.  
NVIDIA.JPG
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Expert Comment

by:PCDOCAZ
ID: 30032605
Might be windows is just not recognizing the connection after your AVR and PJ are turned off and needing a display, defaults to you secondary... Do you get the same results if you leave the AVR reciever on and just turn off your PJ?  You could also try using 3rd party software to manager your dual-monitor setup...

http://www.murgee.com/

http://www.realtimesoft.com/ultramon/
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by:Protonus
ID: 30070226
I've tried ultramon, actual window manager, powerstrip, and I took a look at murgee's... none offer a feature i've seen to keep a monitor enabled or keep it as primary.  If you're aware otherwise let me know where it is in the software.  all seem to just be conduits to windows' own display settings.

I'm sure windows isn't seeing a connection but I don't want it to care.  I don't need it to pick my monitor settings for me.  Can't leave the receiver on 24/7 so haven't bothered to try, doesn't much matter.

I am fine with using third party software, I just need one that offers the ability to shut off the automatic disabling of detached monitors or that forces a particular monitor to always be secondary etc... I've yet to find any.
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by:PCDOCAZ
ID: 30124626
Unfortunately, at this point I dont know a way around this as it is done by design to make sure you always have a primary display.  There may be a reg key that can be edited/deleted, but I am not sure what it would be nor can I find any documentation on this.  Short of maybe trying it in Ubuntu or other linux based system may help, but I am sure you would rather keep your Windows.  Sorry I couldnt be of more help... Maybe somebody else will chime in that may have a work around.
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by:Protonus
ID: 30431911
Thanks.  Any other suggestions?
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Accepted Solution

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Protonus earned 0 total points
ID: 31122756
So I "fixed" this. I had a mini HDMI switchbox from here:
http://www.meritline.com/hdmi-v1-3-hdcp-3-ports-mini-switch-with-3-pcs-of-hdmi-cable---p-33053.aspx
that is normally powered by HDMI. However it does have an optional 5 volt DC connector - that I got a power supply for (off ebay).  I put the switchbox with power between my receiver and the HTPC and... it's fixed.  The constant power from the switchbox seems to statisfy Windows that there is a monitor connected and it "solves" this problem.  

If I had to point fingers... I'd say H/K for not making my receiver keep the HDMI ports energized when turned off, or Windows for not having a "ignore EDID polling" option or Nvidia for not having an option in their drivers for "ignore EDID polling" or "over ride EDID" or something to that effect.  For now this works well enough other then adding more clutter behind my A/V rack and an extra cable and power cord.  
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by:PCDOCAZ
ID: 31169679
Glad you found a work around for it.  Good to know that works, in case I come across a similar challenge in the future.  Thanks for following up with your solution.
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Author Comment

by:Protonus
ID: 34936692
Ugh unfortunatly this work around that has been working so well for me, now no longer works. I upgraded to a 1080p projector (Epson 8350) and it seems the HDMI switch mentioned above, doesn't pass enough bandwidth... with it in the mix, I get random video glitches and audio drop outs, if I am outputting 1080p.  720p was fine.  So I need to find another (ideally) software solution again...
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