Virtual KVM – Multiple Machine Bliss


This may seem off topic, but one of the goals of the paperless office is a clear desk, free of distractions.  Perhaps you can manage to keep the piles of paper from stacking up, but it is still common to be haunted by clutter strewn about such as external hard drives, phone chargers and for those with multiple computers, a stack of keyboards and mice.  The solution to the multiple keyboard and mouse problem has traditionally has been the KVM which provides a physical switch to share a single keyboard, monitor and mouse between computers.  These cost money and can be unreliable.  There is a straightforward and free option available to those that have a display for each computer, but want to share a single keyboard and mouse, the virtual kvm.  The virtual kvm is a piece of software that allows you to share a keyboard and mouse physically connected to one machine with others that are connected over a local network.The are two programs that lead the pack in this domain for the mac: Synergy and Teleport.  I have used both and I think they are both great choices.  A common multi-computer configuration though is to share a keyboard and mouse across both a mac and either a windows or linux box.  For this, Synergy is the only option as Teleport is just for the mac.  Lifehacker has a great configuration guide for getting Synergy up and running.  I have been using Synergy for a few months now and it has worked very well.  I only had one issue when I first installed Synergy, the command key was not being communicated properly to my mac (in my config the mouse and keyboard are connected directly to my pc and to my mac via synergy) which was a big problem for me because I use “command-space” to trigger Quicksilver.  The fix was simple though, I went into the “edit screen” option in Synergy for my mac and swapped the Super and the Alt key modifiers… voila!  If you have other ways to keep clutter from piling up on your desk, let us know in the comments.

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