39

How can I control two computers (with seperate monitors) with the same keyboard and mouse? Is there a software solution to this? Can the computers be running different OSs?

11 Answers 11

68

There is this open-source software hosted on Sourceforge.net:

Synergy — (Git repo here)

Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware. It's intended for users with multiple computers on their desk since each system uses its own monitor(s).

Redirecting the mouse and keyboard is as simple as moving the mouse off the edge of your screen. Synergy also merges the clipboards of all the systems into one, allowing cut-and-paste between systems. Furthermore, it synchronizes screen savers so they all start and stop together and, if screen locking is enabled, only one screen requires a password to unlock them all.

Another free software (only for Windows):

Input Director

Input Director is a Windows application that lets you control multiple Windows systems using the keyboard/mouse attached to one computer. It is designed for folks who have two (or more) computers set up at home and find themselves regularly sliding from one system to the other (and wearing out the carpet in the process!).

With Input Director, you can share a single keyboard/mouse across a set of systems. You switch which system receives the input either by hotkey or by moving the cursor so that it transitions from one screen to the other (in a very similar fashion to a multi-monitor setup). The idea being that you can position the monitors from two or more systems in a row and use a shared keyboard/mouse to control all of them. Input Director also supports a "shared" clipboard, in which you can copy data onto the clipboard on one system, transition across to another and paste.

Input Director requires Windows 2000 (Service Pack 4), Windows XP (Service Pack 2), Windows 2003, Windows Vista, Windows 2008 or Windows 7. The systems must be networked.

See this blog post which explains some differences between the two programs.


There is a hardware solution as well, so called KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switches:

A KVM switch is a hardware device that allows a user to control multiple computers from a single keyboard, video monitor and mouse. Although multiple computers are connected to the KVM, typically a smaller number of computers can be controlled at any given time.

9
  • 7
    There is a newer maintenance fork at google code: code.google.com/p/synergy-plus
    – wcoenen
    Jul 23, 2009 at 1:26
  • 3
    If one of your machines is running OSX, be sure and check out the SynergyKM frontend. (sourceforge.net/projects/synergykm)
    – arathorn
    Jul 23, 2009 at 13:44
  • I would direct people more toward synergy-plus rather than original Synergy, since they're going to have less problems with bugs, etc. Aug 18, 2009 at 12:22
  • 1
    @Nick Bolton. Yes, you're right. I updated my answer emphasizing this.
    – splattne
    Aug 18, 2009 at 13:06
  • 1
    Update links in answer. Synergy Plus has a new url: symless.com/synergy Apr 17, 2017 at 19:14
4

You could use a KVM (Keyboard/Video/Mouse) switch, though you won't need the "V" part.

3
  • 4
    I'd go for the hardware solution - it's less likely to go wrong.
    – ChrisF
    Jul 23, 2009 at 20:50
  • 2
    I'd go for the software solution, it's more convenient. Aug 18, 2009 at 12:20
  • 7
    I'd go for the middleware solution - it's more buzz-wordy.
    – Jeffrey
    Oct 6, 2009 at 20:03
2

Poor man's solution: Use a USB hub and plug your keyboard and mouse into that. Then run a USB cable from each computer up to the hub and plug in the cable for the computer you want to control.

1
  • 2
    It's even cheaper to use free open source software :p Aug 18, 2009 at 12:21
2

Synergy hasn't been updated in years, I would suggest you to use Synergy+, its a fork of Synergy that is under active development.

0
2

Look at Microsoft Garage Mouse without Borders

Mouse without Borders is a product that makes you the captain of your computer fleet by allowing you to control up to four computers from a single mouse and keyboard. This means that with Mouse without Borders you can copy text or drag and drop files across computers.

  • Free
  • Supported Operating System:

    • Windows 10 , Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, Windows Vista, Windows XP SP3

    • Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP SP3 (32/64 bit)

1

Synergy2. It's a software KVM which works on just about any operating system. if both your computers are running Windows, I've found that Input Director is easier to get working.

1

At work, I have two computers each with its own monitor (Windows 7, Windows 2003 Server).
The first one is controlled with the keyboard and mouse, the second one is controlled from the first one using Terminal Services.

This solution works pretty well for me and my coworkers (I'm a kind of evangelist of this poor man, but effective, solution).

0

Maxivista will do this, plus it will also let you use the screen of the second computer in a multi-monitor configuration with your primary computer.

1
  • MaxiVista is OK, but very flaky over a wireless connection. Also, its Windows-only. Jul 23, 2009 at 12:20
0

Have a look at Synergy:

Synergy lets you easily share your mouse and keyboard between multiple computers on your desk, and it's Free and Open Source. Just move your mouse off the edge of one computer's screen on to another. You can even share all of your clipboards. All you need is a network connection. Synergy is cross-platform (works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux).

enter image description here

2
  • You may want to consider directing people to synergy-plus. Aug 18, 2009 at 12:34
  • synergy-plus appears to have been merged into synergy main
    – rogerdpack
    Jun 9, 2021 at 16:21
0

If you have one of the Logitech's Multi-Device keyboard and mouses you can pair them with up to three device.

0

Newcomer on the scene appear to be this synergy fork: barrier. Free fork of synergy 1.x.

Synergy "core" appears to be still maintained, and GPL (you have to build it yourself if you want free, if you want precompiled binaries, it's $29 cost), but the rest of the code (not sure what else) is proprietary.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.