You have a single monitor that is shared between the desktop and laptop? Swapping out the VGA cables every time you need to switch getting you down? Get a VGA switch.
I was looking to buy a second monitor, but decided against it and bought a VGA switch instead. The switch has 2 inputs (from the desktop tower and the laptop) and one output (to the monitor). You use the switches on the device to decide which display to project on the monitor.
One minor caveat, if your desktop and laptop have different resolution, you will need to manually set it each time you do the switch, the device doesn’t “remember” the original resolution setting.
With the laptop, you can use it in dual screen mode. Go to Display Settings where it shows the monitor setup as “1|2” which means it is in mirrored mode and in the options below, select “Extend my display”.
When you switch back to the desktop and then to the laptop again, it will forget the “Extend my display” option, and you need to set it up again, but this is a minor inconvenience.
This is not a replacement for what a dual monitor setup gives you in terms of productivity. But if you, like me, have a 27 inch FHD monitor and are holding out to get something like a 2k or 4k screen, the VGA switch is a good intermediate option.
The VGA unit does not need external power, just plug in the 3 cables and you are all set. I have been using it for a few days and it works flawlessly. It device feels well built, with provision to screw-in all 3 VGA cables. I was worried about the quality of the signal, but so far, the monitor display is as crisp as it would be when directly connected to either the desktop or the laptop.
One last thing, get good quality VGA cables. The ones from Amazon Basics work well and haven’t resulted in any distortion of the signal.
The max resolution this supports is 1920 * 1080.
Note: On one of my older laptops running Ubuntu 20.10, the screen resolution is 1366 * 768 – when using this machine, I was unable to get 1920 * 1080 on my FHD monitor, but I suspect this is more to do with device drivers, or the lack thereof for the older machine running Ubuntu.