Quick Tip: Dual Monitors? Try Dual Computers!

Find yourself with too many keyboards and mice on your desk? Synergy is an open-source tool that can help. Synergy links multiple computers (even with different operating systems) to one keyboard and mouse. To switch monitors, you simply direct your cursor off the side of one screen and onto the other. Synergy works across the systems via TCP/IP networking, so there’s no special KVM hardware to buy or install. Synergy will also allow you to cut and paste between the systems, and it synchronizes screen savers and screen locking to kick in on all your computers at the same time.

Oh, and if your systems are already dual-monitor, then Synergy will turn you into a quad-monitor computing fool!

Synergy

Latest Version: 1.3.1
Platform: Microsoft Windows (most versions), Mac (OS X 10.2 or higher), and Unix X Windows.
Author: Chris Schoeneman and the Synergy team
Price: Free (FOSS)
Download Link: synergy2.sourceforge.net

Comments

  1. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Keep up the great work. BTW, I’ve Stumble’d this post :)

  2. Yep, I use stumbleupon quite a bit; it’s extremely useful – particularly since you can move between a Windows computer and a Linux computer with no difficulty.

  3. I tried Synergy once before, but it was only a KM switch, it did not do the video before (each PC had it’s own monitor and was not transferred to the PC you were working on). Did they change this to make it a true KVM?

  4. wow,

    this is by far the most usefull stumble i’ve ever stumbled upon. i downloaded it and had it fully configured on three computers. until now i had been using a USB 4 device 4 computer switcher.. this was slow by comparison.

  5. Yup, it’s official Stumble works.

  6. Scott: No, you are right. Synergy is actually the equivalent of a KM switch, not a KVM switch. Each computer has its own monitor(s). The monitors can be side-by-side or stacked one above another. Synergy can deal with any arrangement.

  7. I Stumbled this too and am interested. Does this work with Vista?

  8. Dave: If you go to the Known Bugs page of the Synergy SourceForge project (sourceforge.net/tracker/?func=browse&group_id=59275&atid=490467), you’ll see a few outstanding bugs regarding Vista. For example, one says it works fine as long as you don’t try to install it as a service. I suggest you give it a shot and let the Synergy team know what happens. If you have the same problems, fill in more details so they can fix them faster. If you don’t, tell them that, too. Platform certification is one of the trickiest aspects of software development. The more feedback, the better.

  9. Hey! I’m still wondering if this will work with
    Vista. Too, the other is on XP and the monitor is an old clunker. Any advice out there? Dave

  10. Dave: Yes, Synergy should work with Vista, as long as you don’t try to run it as a service, apparently. The age of any particular monitor shouldn’t make any difference.

  11. Some questions:
    -Does it work with heterogenous operating systems? For exemple: a Windows XP on one side and an Ubuntu on the other?
    -Does it support heterogenous hardware? MacOS X on PPC and MacOS X on Intel at the same time, or Linux on different hardware?
    -Is it possible to plug together more than 2 machines?
    The ultimate combo: 3 screens running Linux, MacOS and Windows. Could be fun and useful!

  12. Traroth: The answer to all of your questions is Yes, I think, with some limitations. See the Synergy project home pages (http://synergy2.sourceforge.net). It has a complete list of the operating systems supported. Hardware does not seem to be an issue.

  13. thanks for the tip, and stumble strong ppl

  14. gosh, it’s hard to think how much of a health hazard the internet has become what with all this stumbling! good ideas, i just need to get another three monitors now! stumble on people, like er, zombies.

  15. I love Synergy! I found it out when I was reading this article. It shows you to use an LCD monitor, Synergy, as a KVM switch.
    http://william.smaling.googlepages.com/delllcdkvmhack

  16. I used Synergy for a while and then moved to Win2VNC – similar functionality. Recently found MaxiVista http://www.maxivista.com/ which allows you to use a network attached computer as either a second monitor… not just share the keyboard and mouse but actually MOVE WINDOWS from one computer screen to another.

    The Remote Control (Keyboard and Mouse) functionality is there as well.

    The down-side is that this is for Windows only.

  17. Hmm… any way to use this so that when I use my hdtv as a computer monitor via dvi cable I can hook it up to wireless dvi jack (if such a thing exists) and connect to it wirelessly?

  18. I’ve stumbled this post too!

  19. Isn’t x2x enough?

  20. Thx alot… this article is usefull

  21. Stumbled onto this…

    ok perhaps “small issue”. What if a couple of your systems is already dual head… does it occur when you go th efull distance of their desktop? Or do they all default to the same res?

  22. Synergy works fine with 2 head computers. To clarify, there is no video support- its not a VNC style app. All it does is make it so when you move the mouse to an edge of your screen, it starts sending your keyboard and mouse events to another computer. The other computer needs to have its own monitor, and you cannot drag windows from one screen to another (unless, of course one of your computers has multiple monitors, you can then drag windows betwixt those monitors). It runs great on windows, mac, linux, etc.). Its a simple, yet ingenious program (there are others like it), that makes life so much easier if you use more than one computer at a time.

    For example: At work I have a linux box, a windows pc (each with their own monitor) and a macbook pro- when I get in, I plug my external mouse and keyboard into the mac, and the 3 machines sync up (synergy will automatically resync if one of your machines drops off the net and reconnect). I can then control all three machines with the same mouse and keyboard, just by moving the mouse to the side of the screen (in my case, windows on the left, linux on the right, but it will also do up/down).

    Configuration can be a bit dodgy, but its about as simple as they could make it. Make sure you disable firewalls- the machines need to be on the same subnet, or otherwise properly routed).

    I love synergy- its an all software solution thats free and works great. If you have a need for this sort of thing, definitely check it out. Its a very cool piece of software.

  23. I have a simmilar set up to DPF it works accros anything i have tried so far multi screens some times get a tad confusing but depending on how ur rooms layed out or if u draw a diagram its not bad altho synergy it self requires a little brainchuging to get it going with all its links

    i remember traping the cursor and the focus on my top left screen (not server) and couldnt get it off with out a cntl alt delete cus i forgot to set up links BACK to the other screens

  24. Great tool ! will use it soon, thanks.
    Stumbled too.

  25. I’ve been searching for something worthwhile [really digging my teeth into] and think I have just found it!

    Thank you.


    vlekk

    :~$ fortune -s
    Q: Why do ducks have big flat feet?
    A: To stamp out forest fires.

    Q: Why do elephants have big flat feet?
    A: To stamp out flaming ducks.

  26. Also stumbled. I had no idea this existed. Its going to change the way I work for ever.

    Thanks

  27. I love it. Stumbled!

  28. Will this work for my home PC and my vpn connected work notebook that sit side by side? They are on different networks. I couldn’t get the two to recognize each other.

  29. This is amazing! Worked on the first try, got my thinkpad running linux (fedora) and my toshiba running xp synced.

  30. Synergy is wonderful – I used it for a number of months. There’s a version with key broadcasting out there as well, which works well when running games (think two WoW accounts).

    I found it to be a bit buggy however, and that I’d rather have copy/paste functionality of files than key broadcasting, so I broke down and bought Multiplicity.

  31. Synergy is good stuff. I’d found it previously when digging around for multi platform KM over IP products.

  32. I also use Input Director which is a lot more robust and far easier to configure. It is Windows only so it won’t control Macs or Linux boxes etc. However, it appears to work just fine in parallel with Synergy – there’s no apparent conflict. You may prefer it if you are having any Vista problems with Synergy. It’s available from http://www.inputdirector.com

  33. Stop me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t Linux do this already?

  34. I found this thanks to stumble. Thx for putting this

  35. Wow, this is cool. i run a VMware XP install with all my apps inside my normal XP so i dont have a long load time with all those apps (VMware XP is set to start at a delay of 5 mins with r2’s startup delayer). with this program, i can network between both the VMware and the base XP as if they were 2 computers. very nice when i play a game on the base XP and have firefox up on the other monitor.

  36. Been using it for a year :D
    It’s cross-platform too ^^

  37. haha i was using it at the very time i stumbled upon this website. :) thanks anyway

    It’s a great program, and i love it very much, but i wish they would finally make it possible to drag windows between computers. I’ve been waiting for that for awhile.

  38. Please donate your old boxes to a church-group or some needy student in these hard times! To comply with the law, and with Microsoft’s leasing policy, you can now replace Microsoft OS with the free (download from the net) Ubuntu OS, which can be set to erase the hard drive of all traces of the “illegal to give away ” Microsoft system and your private information, before donation! Now, explain to your lucky recipient that all the manuals they will ever need are available for free on the internet! Just ask for them in Google! OpenOffice, which is installed already is plenty adequate for homework assignments and with a little exploring, everything else can work well too! Happy computing!

  39. Installed on windows 7 and working ok.
    Best Sumble ever found.

  40. last update of the program 2006-04-02.
    That’s almost 4 year ago.
    Don’t think this is a keeper.

  41. Control Dual Monitors with all Windows way i.e. shortcut, system tray, desktop, right click on desktop and many relative options to use with httpp://www.murgee.com/MurGeeMon/

  42. Synergy+ is the only way if you use different OS like linux and windows.

  43. I used Synergy for years and it works great for Mac OSX, Linux and Windows XP. I ended up with an environment of all windows machines (and one Mac for testing) and found out that Synergy doesn’t work with Vista or Windows 7 and the development has stopped? Anyway, I had to switch to InputDirector (http://inputdirector.com/) which also works great (and is more stable than Synergy), but is Windows only =(.

  44. Easy to install, works great ! Using Synergy to share Mouse and Keyboard between one Win XP PC and Windows 7 PC, both 32 Bit Version. 64 Bit Versions are available too. Using Synergy Version 64 Bit sonn for third PC with Win 7 / 64 Bit. Inputdirector so far not tested. Want more! Share the Windows of one Monitorscreen using TCP/IP to another Monitor of another PC. Anyone here have an idea?

  45. I can’t see the use for this unless you have three monitors.

    If you’re on two monitors it’s much easier to attach a KVM switch to your second monitor allowing you to switch between, for example, Windows 7 dual screen and Windows 7 + Ubuntu one screen each. Dual screening Win 7 allows me to MSTSC into multiple servers when I need to without having to go through the trouble of setting up secure VNC Ubuntu to Windows functionality.

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