Need to be able to easily control two computers but only have space on your desk for a single mouse, keyboard, and monitor? Or maybe you have room for two monitors, but only a single mouse and keyboard but want to see and control two systems? You’re in luck: There are a few ways you can solve your problem.
- A KVM Switch: The most well-known and stable solution is a keyboard-video-mouse (KVM) Switch. A KVM switch allows you to push a button or input a keyboard command to switch between controlling and viewing the two (or more) computers. You can get simple two-port switches that allow control and switching between two computers easily, or you can go crazy and get a 16-port KVM if you’re looking to cram a bunch of hardware in your desk. Or you can even get a KVM that will allow you to control a bunch of computers over the network. You’ll typically see larger-port counts on workbenches like ours in our office or in server closets where space is at a premium. But for simple, hardware-level control over two computers from one desk, a KVM can’t be beat.
- “Remote” Control: Another trick (which is much easier if all your computers are on a Windows domain, running Windows Professional), is to “Remote” into the other computer you need to access. While you’re obviously not “Remote” to the system in question, you can use the built-in Remote Desktop capabilities in Windows to open up a connection to that other machine on your network. If you have a second monitor, this works well as you can just have your second monitor loaded up with a view onto your other computer. Remote Desktop has to be turned on for you to be able to access the machine, and there are obviously security ramifications to enabling remote desktop, but it can be an easy way to control more than one computer at a time easily.
- Multiple Monitors, Multiple Computers, Single Mouse/Keyboard Between Them: Software-based options allow you to have a single keyboard and mouse, but allow you to move your mouse cursor between each monitor that’s connected to a different computer, copy and paste between systems, just like they were all one cohesive system, seamlessly. Synergy has been around for a long time and allows you to control Windows, Linux, and Mac systems, each with their own monitor, but with a single mouse and keyboard, moving seamlessly between the systems. If you are just working with Windows systems, a project created by Microsoft developers called Mouse Without Borders offers a very simple installation process and after it’s all said and done, you’ll easily be able move between the systems like it’s all the same machine.