Choosing the best USB switch (plus alternatives)

A USB switch enables you to control multiple computers using one keyboard and mouse – saving time and inconvenience, and keeping your desk clear.

Before investing in a switch, consider what you want to achieve.

I want to control one computer at a time

If you only want to take control of one computer at a time, a hardware USB switch will let you connect it each of your computers, and then switch one keyboard and mouse between them.

This solution is practical if you don’t want to seamlessly switch between computers, and you don't mind having extra hardware on your desk.

Choosing a hardware USB switch

Control multiple computers at once

If you want to save time and money setting up hardware, and want to be able to seamleslsy move your mouse between screens without pressing a button, a software alternative could be an easier and more affordable way of working between your computers. The software alternatives work similarly to hardware USBs, but without any physical box or cables.

Choosing a software switch

How to choose the best hardware USB switch

With hundreds of USB switches on the market, it’s important to undertake some research before committing to a product. We’ve outlined some of the things you should consider below.


  • USB switch (a.k.a. KM switch)
    Lets you connect one keyboard and mouse to multiple computers, connected by cables.
  • KVM switch
    Lets you connect one keyboard, mouse and screen to multiple computers, connected by cables.
  • KVM over IP (also known as IPKVM or Network KVM)
    Lets you connect one keyboard, mouse and screen to one or more computers, which could be physically located anywhere in your network.

Number of computers

USB and KVM switches have a hard limit on how many computers they can connect to, based on the number of ports on the back. Check there are enough ports for your needs.

How you switch

Switching mechanisms vary between pressing a button on the USB or KVM switch, clicking on your mouse wheel, using an on-screen display or pressing a hotkey on your keyboard (bear in mind that the latter can interfere with existing shortcuts).

Software switches – a flexible alternative

If you want to view multiple computers at once, a software alternative such as Synergy could be simpler and more affordable compared to hardware. You still work with just one keyboard and mouse, but can switch seamlessly without pressing a button, and no extra hardware is required.

The software solution is ideal if you want to move back and forth between computers quickly, as there’s no need to press a button. When you move your mouse to the edge of one screen, the software automatically transfers control to the next computer, and your mouse pointer appears there instantly. This makes the transition smoother, and the lack of interruption helps you work more efficiently. Plus, because you’re not introducing extra physical hardware or cabling, your workspace will contain less clutter.

Software switches are also a flexible option that work with any keyboard and mouse.


Hardware or software?

If you don't mind pressing a physical button and want to use hardware

A good hardware USB switch will allow you to use it with multiple computers (and a single mouse and keyboard) without too much inconvenience. Some USB switches tend to be less reliable than others. Quality is everything here, so invest as much as you can to ensure the switching process won't interrupt your workflow.

If you want seamless switching and need a software solution

A hardware USB switch may be an unnecessary expense, and could clutter up your desk. If you want to work seamlessly across all your devices with a single keyboard and mouse, a software alternative such as Synergy would be a simpler and less expensive solution.

Synergy is what we're known for

Learn about Synergy

We make an app called Synergy. If you have any questions, please contact us.