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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 121: Control Multiple Computers with a Single Keyboard and Mouse

Level Advanced

Platform All platforms

Cost Free

If you have two or more computers at one desk, you don’t want two or more sets of keyboards and mice cluttering up the tabletop, too. You can buy a hardware gadget that enables you to share a single keyboard and mouse with several computers (which involves a mess of tangled wires), or you could use a free software solution called Synergy. The Synergy application runs on all the computers you use — the one that has the keyboard and mouse connected and the one(s) that do not — and enables you to control all of them from that keyboard and mouse. That means you can move your mouse off one computer’s screen and it will appear on the other, where you can type and work as well. Synergy also lets you share Clipboard contents between computers. If you copy information to the Clipboard on one computer and move your mouse to the other, you can paste it there, even though they’re two different systems. Sound too good to be true? It’s not!

Synergy works between any number of PC, Mac, and Linux desktops. For simplicity’s sake, this hack sets up two PCs to share a single keyboard and mouse using Synergy; sharing your keyboard and mouse between Windows and Mac follows a similar process using SynergyKM on Mac OS X (http://sourceforge.net/projects/synergykm).

Before you start, you need to know two terms — server PC and client PC. When you set up Synergy, you’ll have one “server:” ...

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