As companies sent their people packing and working from home, they included company gear for them to work on. However, many people have their own personal computers at home.
To support the simultaneous use of multiple systems, developers created software such as Synergy. By using these applications, you can use one mouse and keyboard across multiple computers without having to plug and switch devices.
So aside from Synergy, what other options are there? Here are the five best apps for sharing a mouse and keyboard across different systems.
1. Share Mouse
If you have two computers at home, you can use Share Mouse to control both systems with whatever connected keyboard and mouse you have. No matter if you’re on a Mac or a PC, the peripherals on both systems can crossover to the other device.
For example, if you have a Windows device and a MacBook Pro, you can use the trackpad on the keyboard and trackpad on your MacBook to control your Windows device. It also works vice-versa, with the Windows PC peripherals working on your Mac.
You can use the Share Mouse app as long as both computers are on the same network. It’s free for personal use—but is limited to a maximum of two computers/two displays only. If you want to use the software on up to nine devices, each with up to four monitors, you have to purchase the Pro version.
When you get the Pro version, you also get additional features like locking and unlocking all connected devices simultaneously, synced screen savers, and even remote log-in. Best of all, every Share Mouse licenses have a portable version so that you can use it on other computers without extra installation.
Download: Share Mouse for Windows and Mac (Free, other licenses available)
2. Input Director
This free, powerful, and feature-rich software keyboard, video, and mouse switch (KVM) offers a range of keyboard, video, and mouse switching options. However, it is only compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8/8.1, and Windows 7. This app won’t work with Apple or Linux systems.
What separates this from Share Mouse is that all its features are available for the free version. It offers multi-monitor support, key-bindings, macros, and even enhanced security options.
You can limit which computers can control your Input Director app by name, IP address, or even subnet. And if you’re planning to employ this in a network to which several other users connect, you can encrypt your data to keep them safe.
Again, this powerful app is free for personal use. But if you want to employ this in a commercial and corporate setting, you have to contact the maker.
Download: Input Director for Windows (Free)
3. Mouse Without Borders
Mouse Without Borders is a side-project created by Microsoft engineers under the company’s Garage program. Likewise, while this is not an official Microsoft product, it is developed and supported by its employees and is recognized as such. However, because of this, it’s also available for Windows devices only.
It’s even available for download on Microsoft’s Garage, the platform designed to push software innovations from their employees and customers. Furthermore, support for its use is available via Microsoft’s Community Forums.
Like the other KVMs above, you can share one keyboard and mouse across four computers connected to the same network. You can also set custom shortcuts to make it easier for you to navigate across devices.
The single greatest advantage this app has over the other options is its relationship with Microsoft. Since their engineers and programmers created this app, you can expect fewer issues with the operating system. The developers are already familiar with the app’s working environment to issue updates ensuring compatibility faster than other third-party software companies.
Download: Mouse Without Borders for Windows (Free)
This app is one of the more powerful software KVM options. Although it’s only free to try, the paid licenses will let you do so much more than just controlling multiple computers through one keyboard and mouse set.
The KVM and KVM Pro licenses allow you to stream multiple computers on a single monitor. And all licenses can connect to any computer, whether connected to your local network or via a VPN. So even if you’re physically distant from a device, you can use it like it’s right in front of you.
Audio sharing is also enabled across all licenses, so if you play an audio file on one slave device, the sound will output on your main computer. And with Multiplicity, your control inputs are not limited to keyboard and mouse. It also accepts hot-key and touch switching for touchscreen computers, allowing you to use it even with Microsoft tablets and 2-in-1s.
Download: Multiplicity for Windows (Free for 30 Days, Purchase Required)
When using multiple systems together, like Mac, Windows, and PC, you’re bound to run into some compatibility issues. So if you want to use KVM software, it could be challenging to find an app that will work well on all three different operating systems.
That’s where Barrier comes in—it’s a free, open-source KVM software based on the popular Synergy app, which was itself based on the original CosmoSynergy program by Chris Schoeneman. But unlike Synergy, Barrier is a no-frills app designed to work simply.
It only has two features: it lets you control multiple computers with one keyboard and mouse, and it shares clipboards across your devices. But since this is an open-source project, you can tweak the program to your needs if you’re into programming.
So if you want to connect your PC to your Mac for free or connect any system to your Linux computer, Barrier is the only solution for you.
Download: Barrier for Windows | Mac | Linux (Free)
Control Multiple Systems With One Keyboard and Mouse
Software KVMs are helpful for automatically connecting multiple devices. You no longer have to press a switch or turn a dial just to control your other device. Having this will save you both time and desk space, letting you get more done.
So whether you’re a programmer, a video editor, or even a writer, if you’re working with multiple systems a lot, a KVM app will make you more efficient.