Display Layout Provisioning in Hot-Desking/Hoteling Environment


This article is an introduction to a new DisplayLink feature for Hot-Desking and Hoteling Environments — Layout Provisioning.
The default Windows behaviour on connecting external monitors is, in most cases, to set those monitors to clone the laptop screen. For most users this is not the preferred configuration and they have to manually adjust the display in Windows Desktop Properties.
DisplayLink resolves the problem of unpredictable layouts being applied on first connection with its new Layout Provisioning feature. It provides a tool which allows IT departments to design and save the display layout per workstation. Each user connecting to a configured workstation for the first time will have the saved layout applied.

Enhancement for DisplayLink enabled Hot-Desking Environment

Today, when a user connects to a DisplayLink dock in a Hot-Desking Environment, the screens are given a default Windows desktop layout, which is usually to mirror the laptop screen. This is not the preferred configuration and the first thing a user needs to do is rearrange the display layout. They need to know how to do this, and have to do it for every new desk they connect to. This causes frustration and support calls to IT for help.
DisplayLink is addressing this use case by enabling the DisplayLink dock to be provisioned with the correct display layout for each hot desk. As hot desks are deployed and tested by IT, the correct layout configuration can be saved to the DisplayLink dock.

Now, when a user connects to a hot desk for the first time, their display layout is configured automatically with information from the dock. This saves time, gives the user a better experience, and reduces support calls and tickets.

What's required to deploy the feature?

  • Workstation with a DisplayLink enabled device (using DL-3xxx, DL-4xxx, DL-5xxx or DL-6xxx)
  • Machine running Windows 7 with Dock Management Tool for programming the layout - Windows 10 version to be released soon
  • Machine with DisplayLink driver version 9.1 or above installed.

Please note

Any user who would like to benefit from the hot desking feature needs to meet the following hardware and software requirements:
  • Machine running Windows 7 – 8.1: Any DisplayLink driver package ver 9.1 or above installed including Windows Update installation
  • Machine running Windows 10 Creators Update: HotDesking package (msi, which can be found in corporate download) ver 9.1 or above is required. Drivers installed from Windows Update or .inf do not support the feature.
Whenever a computer is connected to a DisplayLink device configured for hot desking, the layout chosen by the system administrator is applied automatically. However, if a particular user wishes to change the suggested layout, they can still define their own in the normal way using Windows display settings. The user-defined layout takes priority and is loaded each time the user works at the same desk. All other users remain unaffected by this change and use the layout configured by the system administrator.
If a user connects their computer to a DisplayLink device and changes the layout in Windows display settings before the hot desking display layout is configured by the system administrator, the user-defined layout again takes priority and the layout defined by the administrator is not applied for that user. Other users are not affected.

Layout Configuration

Hot desking display layouts can be configured in two ways: by modifying values in Windows Registry or using the Dock Management Tool. Generally speaking, when multiple external monitors are connected, the Dock Management Tool should be used.


Configuration in Windows Registry

With Windows Registry the external monitor can be configured as “extend to the left” or “extend to the right”. If no changes have ever been made to the display settings, Windows applies the “extend to the left” option, so if this setting matches the desired layout, no changes are necessary. However, if extension to the right is preferred, the value of the following key should be set in the registry:

Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\DisplayLink\Products\DisplayLink Graphics\OnNewDevice\ExtendPosition

Windows 10:

There are only two possible values: “Left” and “Right”. The value specified in the key affects all external monitors connected to the computer, but the order in which they compose the desktop cannot be configured. For example, when two external monitors are present and the desktop is extended to the left, it is impossible to tell beforehand which of the monitors will be furthest to the left. Consequently, Windows Registry is not suitable for configuring a setup with multiple external displays.

Programming the layout using Dock Management Tool

The Dock Management Tool is a console application used to save layout information to DisplayLink devices. A computer used to program the layout must be running Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 and have a regular DisplayLink driver version 9.1 or above installed. To configure a display layout with the Dock Management Tool:
  1. Connect the Windows 7 machine with Dock Management Tool to the workstation
  2. Wait for all attached screens to show pixels
  3. Open Windows Display Settings (right-click on the desktop) and set desired layout (See "Supported and recommended layouts" below for details)
  4. Open command line prompt with Admin privileges and navigate to directory with Dock Management Tool
  5. Execute the following command: DockManagementTool.exe -layout store
  6. Monitors connected to DisplayLink device may flash and the Dock Management Tool will report operation successful

The Dock Management Tool is only used to write the layout, and must be used once per hot desk.

Once the dock has been programmed, connect a user machine to it: the saved layout is applied.

Other commands

  • List Dock Management Tool commands

    Syntax: DockManagementTool.exe -h
    Displays all available command-line options and exits.
  • Clear currently stored layout from the connected dock device

    Syntax: DockManagementTool.exe -layout clear
    DockManagementTool will clear the system display layout that is stored in the DisplayLink dock device connected to the Host PC,

    Dock Management Tool returns “Operation successful.” Information on successful completion or proper error message otherwise.


  1. Is the layout from the dock applied at each connection?
    No, the layout is only applied on first connection. If the user changes the layout, the new layout will be restored the next time he/she connects to that dock. If the user had connected to the dock before the new layout was saved to the dock, the previously used layout is loaded.
  2. Can the user save their own layout in the docks?
    No, saving requires the Dock Management Tool, which requires admin privilege to execute. This is to limit the risk of end user interference. We are looking at offering user preference in the future.
  3. Can I add more devices and save the layout?
    Yes, the DisplayLink mix and match advantage stays true. You can mix and match various DisplayLink enabled devices, as long as you include at least one of the above stated DL-chipset versions.
  4. How many DisplayLink displays do you support?             
    Up to 6 displays are officially supported. The feature will work with more DisplayLink docks/adapters, but there are too many combinations to guarantee more than 6.
  5. Do I need new hardware?
    No. All existing DL-3xxx, DL-4xxx, DL-5xxx, and DL-6xxx can be used to store the display layout today. You will need DisplayLink driver hot-desk package v9.1 and newer for the layout to be applied.

Supported and recommended layouts

  • Clone mode is not supported in this feature.
  • Although there are no other hard requirements for selecting a layout, it is recommended to consider the different native resolutions of the machine.
  • The following layouts are recommended. Please note that the laptop’s screen is numbered 1 in the below arrangements.

Vertical display arrangements are also supported.

Supported devices

The feature supports saving layout onto the following devices:

  • DL-3xxx
  • DL-4xxx
  • DL-5xxx
  • DL-6xxx
Hot desking display layout provisioning becomes inactive in the following situations:
  • When one of the monitors malfunctions, has no power source or is disconnected from the dock.
  • When new monitors are plugged into a dock in addition to or as replacement for the old ones, even if they are of the same brand and model.
In these cases, either the original monitor(s) must be re-connected or the layout configuration must be repeated by the system administrator.

DisplayLink devices can be daisy-chained, i.e. a device may be plugged into a USB port of another device. All daisy-chained devices must be connected when the layout is being programmed.
In certain configurations it is also possible to use DisplayLink devices which alone do not support hot desking, e.g. DL-125. Those devices become hot desk capable when paired with other supported devices, as shown below. In such cases, the layout must be saved after all devices have been connected.

Important information for IT managers

  1. Before applying the layout, there is a check for matching monitor set. The layout is applied when all monitors saved in the dock configurations are recognised by the operating system. This means that if one of the monitors fails to light up, the layout from the dock is not applied.
  2. In case of a monitor failure the dock must be re-programmed, even if the monitor is replaced with the same make and model. This is because the monitor serial numbers are different.
  3. Layout Provisioning supports connecting multiple DisplayLink devices in a daisy chain. When programming the layout, it is saved onto all DisplayLink devices. Before loading the layout, the DisplayLink driver checks that all devices have the same layout saved. In the event of discrepancies the layout is not applied.

Testing the saved layout

To test the Layout Provisioning Feature you will first need to clear any previously saved layouts from the laptop. To do it, please follow the steps below:

For Windows 7- 8.1 laptops:
  1. Clear Monitor Persistence:
Copy the text below into a text file and call it Monitor Persistence.reg, save it, then run it to remove these entries:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


For Windows 10 laptops:
  1. Clear Monitor Persistence (as described above)
  2. Delete connectivity.txt file.


Please provide us with your feedback regarding this feature by contacting us at technical_enquiries@displaylink.com
Thank you.

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