Use a Single Mouse and Keyboard Between Multiple Computers

For those that have a lap­top and a work-sta­tion or desk­top PC/Mac, we are often faced with the ques­tion of how to fit and work on both on our tiny lit­tle desks (but that’s prob­a­bly just me). Any­ways, if you haven’t heard of Syn­er­gy+:

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).

It’s a dang use­ful tool. I have recent­ly tried this on my Mac­Book Pro (as the client) to work along my work Mac 24″ and my new rig at home (as the serv­er).

If you are on an OS X sys­tem, you won’t need to install the orig­i­nal Syn­er­gy pack­age, but might want to con­sid­er step­ping in to the GUI ver­sion of it called, Syn­eryKM:

Syn­er­gyKM is a GUI wrap­per around the syn­er­gy com­mand line tool that lets you eas­i­ly share a sin­gle mouse and key­board between mul­ti­ple com­put­ers with dif­fer­ent oper­at­ing sys­tems with­out spe­cial hard­ware.

Here are the steps I would take; at least mak­ing your main Mac the serv­er, and your Mac­Book+ the client:

  1. Down­load and install Syn­eryKM to both machines. The install should put Syn­er­gy in your “Sys­tem Pref­er­ences”.
  2. Click­ing on it to open it up, select the appro­pri­ate behav­ior:
    1. To make the machine the serv­er, click on the option with “Share my key­board and mouse.”
    2. To make the machine a client, click on the option with “Con­nect to a shared key­board and mouse”.

    It should be intu­itive enough.

  3. Now the next step is to set­up the dis­play con­fig­u­ra­tion on “the serv­er” machine. Click on the “Serv­er Con­fig­u­ra­tion” tab. You would then Add each of the machine; you may either use their com­put­er name(s)
  4. In “the client” machine(s), you are instead click­ing on the “Client Con­fig­u­ra­tion” tab. Enter either the Serv­er IP or host­name of “the serv­er” machine.
  5. Last but not least, you just need “Turn Syn­er­gy On” and that should do it.

Note: If you have upgrad­ed to at least Leop­ard v10.5.2, you will need to make sure that “Enable Bon­jour” option is turned off. There seems to be a prob­lem that caus­es Syn­er­gyKM to not work cor­rect­ly with it enabled in this ver­sion of Leop­ard.

Any­ways, I’ll see if I can write up the steps to get­ting your PC/Windows machine work­ing when I get a chance lat­er. For now, soak in the glo­ry of using just a key­board and a mouse to con­trol your machines.

Updat­ed Fri­day, Decem­ber 9, 2011
I have updat­ed this post with the lat­est links to the projects men­tioned above. As of the time of this writ­ing, I am using the lat­est Syn­er­gy 1.4.5 Beta 64-bit on my PC (the serv­er), and Syn­er­gyKM 1.0 Beta 7 (1.0b7, as the client).

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