Make a secondary monitor the primary one with TVGameLauncher

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 14, 2014

Most televisions can be connected to computer systems these days. This is usually done via HDMI and really easy, as you only need to connect the TV to the computer using a HDMI cable.

Once done, the TV should show up as a secondary monitor on your system so that you can use it for most activities right out of the box.

Depending on where PC and TV are located, you may use PC input devices to control what is going on, or use a controller instead if they are not next to each other.

For instance, if you plan to play games in the living room on your TV while the PC is in the office in the next room, you may not want to switch rooms regularly just to control what is going on.

A powerful enough laptop is ideal as you can place it in the same room but if you don't have that, you may need to control what is going on with a controller instead.

That's where Steam's Big Picture mode comes into play. It has been optimized for controller input and once it is displayed on the screen, it is easy enough to control with a joystick.

While the majority of apps and some games will work right away, others may not because they will only run on the primary monitor and not a secondary monitor (which the TV is).

tv game launcher

TVGameLauncher has been designed to resolve that. Its main purpose is to make a secondary screen the primary monitor so that games and apps requiring that to run will launch on it.

While designed with televisions in mind, it can be used to make any secondary monitor the primary one for a period of time.

Note: You may get a "Windows protected your PC" warning on Windows 8 if you try to run the program. Here you may also need to install the .Net Framework 3.5 if it is not installed already on the system.

The interface of the program displays menus that you need to use to select the computer monitor and secondary monitor  (TV) that you want to switch between.

Depending on how they are listed here, you may need to experiment a bit to make the right selection in both menus. Once that is out of the way, you can select the default audio endpoint for each selected monitor, and select whether to darken non-primary displays or keep the computer awake automatically at all times.

Another interesting option is that you can drag game shortcuts to the program interface to either run it directly on the secondary monitor, or to create a new shortcut for it so that you can click on the new shortcut whenever you want to do so.

Video Demo

Closing Words

If you want to play games on your television or another secondary monitor, then you may find TVGameLauncher useful as it helps you do so.

Alternative: The command line program W7 Toggle Display can be used for that purpose as well, but it is not as comfortable to use as it ships without GUI.

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  1. Stephen Townsend said on May 6, 2021 at 11:06 pm

    This used to work, but now I can’t revert back to a normal display configuration plus the audio config is wrong… I have no audio. I need to know how to get into the actual config options.
    Too messy to bother with anymore plus no technical support at all.

  2. as said on February 13, 2021 at 7:38 pm
  3. PhoneyVirus said on July 20, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    I remember when Nvidia just allowed dual screens and the only way to get three monitors was to buy the GeForce GTX 590. Now you can have three monitors plus one HDMI for a total of four, that first showed up on the GTX 600 series and ATI had these feature long before Nvidia crazy when you think about it.

    I like to point out to use such features a big frame buffer would be required, sure some games work flawlessly but others won’t, requiring all VRam to run the game. Nonetheless nice Tutorial.

    Thanks for the little Tutorial Martin


  4. Ohad Schneider said on July 18, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Glad I could help Jeff!

    Realizing how simple it was, I implemented this feature in TvGameLauncher so people can enjoy it without messing with the command-line. Take a look:


  5. jeff said on July 16, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    My wish is for an app like this to simply switch to the TV — where the display and audio switch to the TV, for everything, and stay there until I switch back.

    My reason is sometimes I just like to sit at the TV and surf the web, watch youtube, or maybe Netflix. Not just games, so I don’t want it to run the game on the TV, and then when I exit the game automatically switch back to the PC.

    Currently I use an autohotkey macro I created to switch to the TV, and another to switch back to the PC. A proper app to do this would be nice.

    So Ohad, if you see this, perhaps you can add a button to simply switch, and another to switch back. In other words, a button to manually switch, without having to drag/drop an exe.

    1. Ohad Schneider said on July 16, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      Hi Jeff,

      I suspected people might want this, but I was too lazy to implement it properly :)
      However there are a couple of ways you could achieve this easily:

      1. Simply “exploit” a program that you’re unlikely to use by dragging it to TvGameLauncherGUI, and close it when you want to switch back. For example, I believe every Windows machine has the following tool: %windir%\System32\wbem\wbemtest.exe and it’s a safe bet that you’re not going to use it when your TV is the main display (if ever). So you can create a TV shortcut for it with TvGameLauncherGUI, run it when you want to switch to the TV, and kill wbemtest.exe when you want to switch back.

      2. Use TvGameLauncher.exe directly. For example, suppose TvGameLauncherGUI creates the following shortcut for one of your games: TvGameLauncher.exe -e “C:\Games\game.exe” -s “Speakers” -h “1 – SAMSUNG” -m “\\.\DISPLAY2” -t “\\.\DISPLAY1”

      Now all you have to do is define a couple of shortcuts:
      (a) TvGameLauncher.exe -e “dummy123.exe” -s “1 – SAMSUNG” -h “1 – SAMSUNG” -m “\\.\DISPLAY1” -t “\\.\DISPLAY1”
      (b) TvGameLauncher.exe -e “dummy123.exe” -s “Speakers” -h “Speakers” -m “\\.\DISPLAY2” -t “\\.\DISPLAY2”

      See how we “fooled” TvGameLauncher there? The first shortcut tells it to go to the TV and HDMI and then “revert back” to the TV and HDMI once dummy123.exe is finished. Of course there is no such thing as dummy123 so it’s going to happen immediately, effectively moving to and staying in the TV/HDMI profile. The second one does the same for the monitor/speakers. Once you have these shortcuts you can assign hotkeys for them to make things even quicker:

      I hope my explanation was clear.


      1. jeff said on July 16, 2014 at 11:37 pm

        That was helpful indeed. Thanks a bunch!

  6. Ohad Schneider said on July 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Thanks for the review guys :)

    Just a small comment, I believe W7 Toggle Display will only work for Windows 7 whereas TvGameLauncher should work with Windows XP and above since it uses the (excellent) NirCmd under the covers (haven’t tested this though). It can also only toggle the primary display, so in case you have more than 2 displays you may need to run it several times. And of course it won’t switch the audio endpoint (again, you could use NirCmd for that), it won’t prevent the screen saver (granted, there are programs that do that as well), and it won’t darken the non-game displays (though you could open a full-screen black image on each of the monitors). Finally, you’d have to do all of this manually (both before and after) as none of these tools are aware of the game / application, so they won’t know when to revert back. You could write a script to attempt that (assuming you find tools for each of the tasks above), but that would still be problematic for Steam games, where you can’t simply call the executable as a dedicated protocol is used and you have to explicitly wait on the launched process (there are ways to do that as well from scripts if you really want to).

    The point is that you could probably do everything that TvGameLauncher does yourself if you really want to (and are sufficiently computer savvy), but there’s really no reason to :)

    BTW if you do want to write your own scripts, note that TvGameLauncherGUI is simply a front-end for the purely command-line TvGameLauncher.exe so you could directly use that if you wish. It’s fully documented (including a couple of samples), and of course you can always examine the shortcuts created by the GUI.


  7. Blue said on July 14, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    Interesting, but I wonder if it can be used with things other than games. Because a friend plugged in his Windows XP-32b PC to his new Samsung 60″ LED TV via HDMI port, but while working off the TV screen the image would often suddenly freeze (not the mouse, only the screen froze). I can’t figure out if this is PC related, video card related or something like this program could possible make it all stable to work PC to TV via HDMI. Hmmm…

  8. Uhtred said on July 14, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    getting an error message on this page load… is it thee or me? feel free to delete :)

    Warning: session_start() [function.session-start]: The session id is too long or contains illegal characters, valid characters are a-z, A-Z, 0-9 and ‘-,’ in /home/ghacksn/public_html/wp-content/plugins/wp-donations/wp-donations.php on line 139

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      Not getting that error. Can you clear your cache, or the Ghacks cache and try again?

      1. Uhtred said on July 14, 2014 at 5:53 pm

        returned afresh and message didn’t appear in my firefox 30, not quite sure what happened

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 14, 2014 at 7:04 pm

        Great. Let me know if it returns and I investigate.

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