A Way To Easily Adjust Screen Brightness On A Multi-Monitor Windows Setup

If you work long hours at a computer, adjusting the brightness of the screen is a must to avoid eye strain and headaches. Especially during the winter when there is less natural light in the work space, continuous exposure to bright monitors can be a real problem. A solution, of course, is to lower the brightness of the monitor.

While most monitors have buttons and controls that let you adjust the screen settings, they tend to be clunky to use. If you have a multi-monitor setup, you don’t want to continually have to go through a slew of settings panels for each monitor. So the obvious solution would be to use some kind of software, ideally something with some keyboard shortcuts.

For Windows, there a dozens of programs that promise to do this and I have tried most of them. Sadly, most of them aren’t really that applicable to multi-monitor arrangements. One approach is to directly tap into the graphics settings, but software that tries to do this can sometimes screw with your monitor settings in ways that hard to revert. Other programs will do the trick but they don’t have easy to use controls (they lack keyboard shortcuts mainly) or they only work on a single monitor setup. I use virtual desktops on top of my dual monitor setup and finding a program that supports these variables has been fruitless search, that is, until today.

So I finally found a solution that fulfills my criteria:
– Easy to use keyboard/mouse shortcuts to adjust screen brightness
– Multi-monitor support
– No messing with graphics settings
– Virtual desktop support
– Compatible with Windows 7
– Low cost

And I’m pleased to say it works great and is free.

So here’s the setup:
You’ll need to install autohotkey and launch a user script called ‘SmartBright‘. To achieve multi-monitor support you just need to tweak a few settings. This script will let you control brightness with a buttery smooth mousewheel control (you hold down the left button mouse while scrolling up or down). All it does is add a transparent overlay over the screen, which is a very effective means to adjust the brightness without screwing with actual monitor settings.

For virtual desktop support you will want to set the SmartBright window to always on top (otherwise the overlay will only work from the desktop you launched the program from). I’m using mDesktop which has a settings panel (from settings select the windows tab) that let’s you pick windows that are always visible on every virtual desktop. I’m sure there is a way to do this purely with autohotkey but I haven’t needed to figure that out, since mDesktop does it perfectly.

Best of all, you won’t have to pay a cent for this setup. How good is that.

4 comments

  1. Brian says:

    Hello,

    Thanks so much for this. But I need a little help with ”┬áTo achieve multi-monitor support you just need to tweak a few settings.” Can you help with which settings need tweaking?

    Thanks,

    Brian

    • Peter Knight says:

      It depends on your specific monitor setup. The script might have been updated by the author by now, but the one I installed required me to tweak the coordinates so that the area that is darkened overlaps perfectly on my two screens. The lines that start with Gui, Show followed by coordinates are the ones I tweaked, not sure if I tweaked anything else.

    • Peter Knight says:

      I used to use pangobright and I like it, but it doesn’t have keyboard shortcut support or a way to seamlessly dim multiple monitors in one interaction.

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