Share keyboard and mouse between two computers

Nowadays, it’s not unusual to operate two (or even more) computers in parallel. There are a great many people using both a work laptop and a personal one on a daily basis, while also owning a desktop PC or a Mac. Switching between all those keyboards, mice and touchpads can be a bother, and, in addition to it, they tend to really clutter up the working space on a desk.

How to share USB keyboard and mouse between two computers?

The good news is that there is a way to fix the said issue — you can just share a mouse and a keyboard between computers. For this article, we’ve collected some of the most convenient software- and hardware-based solutions. We're hoping at least one of them will be the optimal one for you.

Table of contents:

Top Mouse and Keyboard Sharing Software

USB Network Gate


USB Network Gate (also known as USB over Ethernet) is a professional-grade software application with amazingly powerful capabilities. It can do much more than just share a keyboard and mouse between two computers.

Where other apps and gadgets fall to defeat, USB Network Gate never fails to provide you reliable and secure access to all kinds of USB devices from any spot on Earth.

USB Network Gate Screenshots

With its help, you can easily share a USB device with your teammates so there’s no need to spend up on extra gadgets for all and sundry. Just think about cost-saving opportunities!

Here’s how to share keyboard and mouse between two computers
using USB Network Gate:


  1. Download and install USB over Ethernet on the server i.e. a computer to which your keyboard and mouse will be attached. Launch the application.

  2. In the app’s window you will see ‘Share local USB devices’ tab, where all your available devices are listed. Press ‘Share’ button for those devices you’d like to share.

  3. Download and install the app on the client, i.e. a computer that needs access to the shared keyboard and mouse. Launch the application.

  4. In the app’s window in the “Remote USB devices” tab locate the required device and click ‘Connect’ to access the device.

Now you can use the functionality of the keyboard and mouse you have connected, i.e. you can access them as if they were plugged into your machine.

Most typical scenarios when USB Network Gate comes to the rescue:


  • Share mouse and keyboard between 2 computers that aren’t located on the same desk or even in the same room

    One of the key advantages of using USB Network Gate is that you won’t have to get out of your chair and come up to a colleague’s machine every time you need to use it. Instead you can just share your mouse across computers (and keyboard, if need be). While some extra body movement is always welcome in sedentary office life, better not have it at the cost of someone’s destruction from their work.

  • Share mouse and keyboard between Mac and PC

    Unlike some other apps, USB Network Gate will save you any trouble with cross-platform compatibility. Whatever OS is on a PC you choose to share a USB device, it will be accessible from all machines in your network, be it a Windows, Linux, Mac or Android PC.

  • Access USB devices in a virtual machine session

    Remote access to your keyboard and mouse is also required when you work in a virtual environment where USB ports are not always visible and reachable

  • Redirect USB from a thin client

    Being able to manage devices remotely becomes of critical importance if you are using a ‘thin client’, i.e. a computer without a hard drive. These computers depend on other machines or rather servers to provide features such as hosting applications, sensitive data, memory, etc. The functionality of these servers may vary significantly. So-called ‘fat client’, on the contrary, performs all the tasks by itself.

Synergy by Symless


Synergy is a software application designed specifically for mouse and keyboard sharing between several computers over Ethernet or WiFi networks. Works for Windows, Linux, and Mac PCs. Once you’ve installed the app, you can freely move your mouse between computers, copy/paste using a shared clipboard, and even customize some hotkeys for added convenience.

Synergy screenshot

Here’s a quick installation guide:


  1. Check if your OS is 32-bit or 64-bit, and then download a relevant app version from the official webpage.

  2. Follow the Setup Wizard’s prompts through the installation process.

  3. Copy your License Key from the Synergy website and paste it into the given space when asked to.

Key good points of this app are:


  1. Unlimited number of machines you can share a keyboard and mouse between

  2. Shared clipboard

  3. Runs on the background (only for Windows)

  4. Customizable hotkeys

Input Director by The OpenSSL Project


Another app that allows you to operate multiple computers with a single keyboard and mouse. Except, this one is for Windows only.

Input Director GUI

Here’s your step-by-step guide on how to use it:


  1. Download and install the software and setup your master system first. You can either setup hotkeys or drag a mouse cursor over the borders to switch between the computers.
  2. Setup your network address and add computers to it.
  3. You can setup a clipboard area in the network, check Global Preferences.

For further information refer here.

ShareMouse by Bartels Media


ShareMouse is one of the most hassle-free mouse sharing apps with basic functionality. It’s really simple-to-operate — once you’ve installed it on all the PCs you need to control, they'll be automatically recognized and connected. To switch between computers, just move your mouse pointer to another screen or use a hotkey.

ShareMouse Monitor Manager

Note, that all the computers must be connected to the same network. Put bluntly, ShareMouse is best suited for controlling two (or more) machines located right next to each other — preferably, on the same desk.

Main merits and flaws of ShareMouse:


Pros:

  • Free version for personal use (for 2 PCs only)
  • Works for both MS Windows and macOS
  • Supports the Drag-and-Drop function (paid version only)

Cons:

  • No monitor sharing
  • Won’t work on Linux or Android devices
  • You can’t use it to operate a remote PC
  • Hotkeys only available for the paid version

Hardware Solution KVM switch


This device allows you to operate multiple computers not looped in a network via a single monitor, single keyboard, and single mouse. You only need to attach your keyboard and mouse to this device and connect it to the computers, the device would have a switch for USB ports and computers to activate one at a time.

Black Box USB-C 4K KVM Switch

You can use KVM switches to share not only keyboards and mice but other devices as well such as microphones and speakers. The switches work with both Windows and Mac machines.

Main merits and flaws of ShareMouse:


Pros:

  • As simple as it gets
  • Works with other USB devices, e.g. microphones, speakers
  • Works with Windows and Mac OS X

Cons:

  • Wires, wires, wires
  • Not free
  • Depends on a distance between two computers and devices.

Remote Desktop


The last but not least method of keyboard and mouse sharing between two computers is using a Remote Desktop. That’s either an operating system feature or a dedicated software application that helps you access any computer remotely through a local network or the Internet and get full control over all its resources and services.

Remote Desktop Connection

Sure thing, “all resources” do include both keyboard and mouse. Though, it’s not the most common application for Remote Desktop. Presently in most cases, it’s used to access files and accounts on the work computer back in the office while staying at home or traveling.

To set up a Remote Desktop session, the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client uses the multichannel protocol called Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). By default, all the RDP connections are made through the TCP-port 3389, or the TCP-port 443 (HTTPS) for a remote desktop gateway.

Pros and cons of this method:


Pros:

  • You can find a free solution
  • No distance limitations
  • Multiplatformity

Cons:

  • Managing more than 2 PCs can be really confusing
  • Stable Internet connection is an absolute must-have
  • The connection is not always safe and secure
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USB Network Gate
Share USB over Ethernet on Windows
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Also Available: USB Network Gate is a cross-platform solution compatible with Mac, Linux and Android OSes:

UNG for Mac

UNG for Linux

UNG for Android