KVM switches for keyboard and mouse sharing
Not a few PC owners have both a desktop computer and a laptop or one more PC needed for testing. Using several computers at the same time can be tricky for each of them has a display and input devices. To easy it up you can get yourself a KVM (Keyboard-Video-Mouse) switch. This hardware enables you not only to share keyboard and mouse between computers but a display as well — just push the button and you get switched to another PC. On top of it, via KVM switch you can share keyboard and mouse between Windows and Mac.
It will take you just a few steps to share keyboard and mouse between the 2 computers. First, plug a keyboard and a mouse you would like to share into the USB ports of this box-like device, then connect the switch with the computers. As simple as it gets.
In most cases, the switches are equipped with buttons to toggle between USB ports and computers.
You can use KVM switches to share not only keyboard and mouse but other devices as well such as microphones and speakers. The switches usually work with both Windows and Mac machines.
Alternative software to share keyboard and mouse between 2 computers
Another type of KVM switch that you can use to share mouse and keyboard between 2 computers is a software-based solution, so you won’t have to purchase any additional gadgets. Just install an application and it’ll handle all the switching for you. Note that software KVM switches only work via LAN, so make sure that all PCs you’d like to operate are network-connected. Also, you can’t use said software to switch between displays, only to share keyboard and mouse.
All you need to do once the software was installed on every machine of your network is to decide from which one of them you wish to share mouse and keyboard. Then just move the cursor out of the desktop for a smooth transition to another computer.
Input Director is freeware available since 2007 and perfectly compatible with any networked Windows system up to Windows 10, but you can’t use it to share keyboard and mouse between Mac and PC.
After installing the software on each computer, start with configuring secondary PC. Press “Enable as Slave” in the app interface, then click the Slave Configuration tab. There you can either type the hostname of Primary computer manually (as identified on the Main tab on Primary PC) or just select “Allow any computer to take control” from the list.
On the PC with keyboard and mouse that you’d like to share (primary computer), press “Enable as Master”, then go to Master Configuration tab, click Add and type in the hostname of slave computer (see the Main tub of secondary PC), then press OK. After that, you’ll be able to position the second monitor left, right, below or above the main one by arranging icons in the configuration box.
Now you can move the cursor on both screens wherever you like. Drag-and-drop feature isn’t available, so to transfer files or folders you’ll have to copy and paste them through the shared clipboard. For extra security, you can enable AES encryption. Note that both master and slave PCs should have identical encryption settings and a password.
ShareMouse was released a couple of years back. It is commercial software but there is a free version for non-commercial use only. The paid version supports drag-and-drop, password security, switching prevention or remote shutdown/lock/screensaver and can be used on up to 9 Macs and/or PCs. What is more, it is capable of sharing mouse and keyboard between Mac and PC.
Right after installation ShareMouse detects your computers and links them up. If auto-connection has failed, open Settings, then go to Network and click “Find free port” for UDP and TCP or connect manually via the Client window (for qualified users only). Once the connection is up, open the Monitor Manager and arrange your monitors as you please: side by side or one above the other.
Free ShareMouse doesn’t have customization capability of the paid version but you can still use copy and paste by Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V even if their website lists this among paid functions. Also, you can choose hotkey for quick jump, scroll speed/direction, do or don’t dim inactive monitors and how many presses of Esc button will disable the remote control.
Mouse Without Borders
Mouse Without Borders is a product of Microsoft Garage — a special project for Microsoft staff members to work on projects unrelated to their scope of employment. Mouse Without Borders is a freeware adapted to use one keyboard and mouse to operate up to 4 PCs. It’s fully compatible with Windows from XP to 10.
This software comes with a wizard to simplify setting it up. Start with installing Mouse Without Borders on secondary PC and when you’ll see the question “Have you already installed Mouse Without Borders on another computer?” click NO to open the window with security code and computer’s name. Leave it for now and install the program on the primary computer with mouse and keyboard you’d like to share, click YES under the same question and enter security code and computer’s name from secondary PC, then press LINK to connect. And that’s how to share keyboard and mouse between two computers, and even three or four.
In the main window you’ll find check boxes that can enable or disable each of the computers. To move the cursor right or left off the desktop edge, just drag computers in the same direction. If you’ve linked more than 2 PCs, check the Two Row box to arrange computers in a square so you can move your cursor between the monitors both vertically and horizontally.
Mouse Without Borders allows you to use clipboard and drag-and-drop though not in full: you can only transfer one file at a time to the unchangeable destination folder on the desktop named “Mouse Without Borders” so to send a folder you’ll have to archive it.