Blog Post

Use Multiple Computers With One Mouse and Keyboard — Synergy+

Way back in 2005, James shared information on Synergy, an incredible software tool for using multiple computers at the same time. Using a single mouse and keyboard, you can work across different monitors and operating systems as if they were all one integrated system. It’s truly an amazing experience that boost productivity — especially for folks like me that have several notebooks, netbooks, UMPCs and other computers in the office. Download Squad notes that after a few years of stagnation, the Synergy project is alive and well again with a new maintenance fork called Synergy+ that arrived last summer.

Synergy+ supports Microsoft Windows (s msft), Mac OS X (s aapl) and Linux machines — there are installs available for all three platforms. Once installed, the app runs as a server and you configure it for your specific setup. For example: you may have two Windows setups side-by-side and a Mac OS X notebook to the right, all on the same network. Simply tell Synergy what machines are where and your mouse will float among the systems as if they were one. It doesn’t stop there however. You’re actually able to use any or all of the machines via single mouse and keyboard as if they were the only system you had. And if you really want to go crazy, you can even cut and paste data between the various systems using Synergy+.

At the moment, I’m keeping things simple with just a single computer on my home office desk. But back in the day, I used the original Synergy software with several machines on a daily basis. It’s a super tool for those that need a multi-computer solution. You could use a hardware KVM — or Keyboard Video Mouse switch — but it’s not quite the same. While a KVM solution leverages one keyboard and mouse across multiple computers, it only allows control of one system. That’s the key difference, since Synergy+ supports usage of multiple computers at the same time. Users of multiple Windows devices might consider the commercially available Multiplicity — the product is similar to Synergy+ but doesn’t yet offer cross-platform support.

So what’s going on with that old Synergy project, you ask? After all, Synergy+ is built from the original efforts created by Chris Schoeneman. Based on an update from Chris, he still intends to mature the open source project by adding new features and a security boost with SSL encryption. Unfortunately, the most recent update on Synergy 2.0 I could find is from 2008, so who knows if and when progress will continue. For now, I’m simply happy that others have taken up the charge for multi-computer control with Synergy+.

6 Responses to “Use Multiple Computers With One Mouse and Keyboard — Synergy+”

  1. Mac users should use this verison of Synergy: SynergyKM (google it). (It’s a preference panel – no need for terminal!).

    The current Version 1.0b7 is Snow Leopard compatible!

    I’ve used it for hundreds of years (OK, maybe I exaggerate a little).

  2. I was using Synergy Pretty regularly until a couple of Months ago to Use my MBP Keyboard to control My Windows Laptop. It did work pretty well, with one big caveat.

    While the Windows Installer and app is well polished and easy to use, not so the OSX version. Any App that requires you to startup using the Terminal is not for the novice or faint at heart. The issue I often ran into was that Instructions were not very clear or detailed enough for a novice to OSX or the terminal. As such Troubleshooting a flaky on non responsive connection was an exercise in frustration.

    As such While I did use it when I need to be able to connect to my second machine which was located somewhat awkwardly, I’m not looking forward to having to use it again in its current form.

  3. I used Synergy for years – at work, had a Windows desktop for the “corporate apps” like Office and Outlook, and did my real work on a Linux workstation, controlling both machines with Synergy. Fantastic application, though I too had minor glitches with it while running it cross-platform.