First Look

Synergy: Outstanding "soft" keyboard and mouse sharing for OS X, Linux, and Windows

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Credit: oomlout / Flickr

If you have multiple machines on your desk, Synergy is the easiest and cheapest way to avoid extra hardware and cable hassles


When you’ve got two or three machines on your desk you usually don’t want to have a keyboard and mouse for each one; that would be just way too much hardware to deal with and if your desk is like mine, there’s way too much other stuff on it to have a second or third keyboard anyway. 

You could use a KVM (keyboard-video-mouse) switch but that’s also adding to your rat’s nest of cables and good KVMs are pricey. But there is another choice: A “soft” KVM and the one I love is called Synergy.

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Published as open source software at the ridiculously low price of $10 for a single user, Synergy works on OS X, Linux, and Windows and supports clipboard sharing as well as file drag and drop. Even better, if you prefer secure connections between your machines, Synergy supports SSL.

Once installed, you set up the screen layout on a five by three grid so that computers can be accessed in the correct order. To select which screen gets your keyboard and mouse input you just slide your mouse off the screen (left, right, up, down but not diagonally) and your mouse will appear on the next screen according to your layout.

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Synergy monitor set up screen

This utility works flawlessly and it makes interacting with multiple machines that each have their own display really easy. For $10, Synergy is a steal! Synergy gets a Gearhead Rating of 5 out of 5.

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