I frequently experiment with custom layouts on websites, desktops and basically any interface I get my hands on. One question I ask myself from time to time, when does it make sense to use the portrait mode?

What Is The Portrait Mode

By default your monitor will use the landscape orientation. If you have a wide-screen monitor optimized for solutions such as 1440×900 or 1920×1080 then you can change the orientation, get a monitor-stand and double your vertical screen space.

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1. Step Click on your desktop and select Screen resolution:
Changing Screen Orientation

2. Step From the dropdown orientation you can now select from the different modes. Portrait mode will give you a lot of virtual real estate on your desktop.
Monitor Orientation.png

When To Use It?

Not all monitors are a good fit for the portrait mode. Monitors with large borders are usually not so good, because they should be somewhat close to the other monitor for a good experience. It’s also helpful to have a decent multi monitor stand that allows you to position it in unconvential ways.

  • Widescreen Monitor
  • Freestanding Monitor Stand Recommended
  • Very Helpful For Keeping Track Of Large Documents, Sites With A Lot Of Vertical Content.

Horizontal Web Layouts: The Future?

A design practice says we are used to consuming content horizontally. Scrolling is considered an annoyance. Magazines are read horizontally obviously and websites should be just like it, but because of the technological constraints websites developed in a way that made vertical reading (scrolling) the preferred choice. Very few sites makes good use of horizontal layouts, however with the introduction of responsive design and complete AJAX-driven sites it’s going to have a comeback eventually.

If you read news a lot, you will notice that some sites load content vertically at the end of an article. I consider this a fad and bad practice. It’s a horrible user experience that prevents people from reading the bottom of a page and just doesn’t feel right. Instead we will see more websites that load content horizontally using navigational arrows that many sites have already started implementing.

Vertical Taskbars On A Desktop

Not only can you change your monitor to portrait orientation, but also your taskbar.

This makes a lot of sense when using the portrait mode, because you will be able to see a lot more pinned icons on your taskbar. If you frequently launch different programs that can be very beneficial.

This is what it looks like:
Vertical Taskbar Layout

1. Step To get this, right-click on your taskbar and select Properties, make sure it doesn’t say “locked”.

2. Step Left-click and hold directly after the last icon on your taskbar. If you see a dotted bar, make sure to click into an area to the left of that dotted bar. Now drag your mouse to the right and it will automatically reposition itself.

When To Use Vertical Taskbars?

There are some situations when vertical taskbars are handy:

  • Situation requires more taskbar icons to be accessible immediately
  • Annoyance/Distraction-free working
  • Larger icons preferred

Tip: Different Layouts On Different Screens

Windows 8 is a great OS that supports multiple layouts. It does not support multiple taskbars but you can have different orientions of the same “main” taskbar. Simply drag your taskbar to the second screen and it will show up on the 2nd screen. Now drag it to the right-side of your screen as described above.

You now have a horizontal bar on screen 1 and a vertical bar on your portrait-mode screen. Handy!

Where To Go From Here?

There are many things you can customize to make them more accessible. Lite-weight minimalist themes are a great way to remove distractions.