Share one keyboard and mouse with multiple computers

Illustration of a person using multiple computers with a single keyboard.

If you regularly use two or more computers at the same time, you’ll want to avoid the inconvenience and clutter of having multiple keyboards and mice.

The good news is it’s possible to control all your computers using just one keyboard and mouse, and we don’t mean disconnecting and reconnecting them every five minutes. Discover the best solution for you, below.

1. Cross computer control software2. Hardware USB switches3. Hardware KVM switches4. Multi-device keyboards and mice5. Remote desktop software

Cross-computer control software

The most straightforward solution is to install cross-computer control software such as Synergy. This takes just a few minutes to download and install. It lets you keep your mouse and keyboard connected to one computer, while allowing them to control all your other computers as well.


  • Switching is seamless – simply move your mouse to the edge of one screen, and the cursor moves to the next screen instantly.
  • It works with any keyboard, mouse or screen. Synergy also works across Windows, Mac, Linux and even Raspberry Pi.
  • No extra cables or hardware, keeping your workspace free of clutter.
  • At just $29, Synergy is also your most affordable option.


  • Each of your computers needs its own screen (if you’ve only got 1 screen, check out the option below).
  • The computer your mouse and keyboard are actually connected to must stay switched on – so this should be your main device.

Hardware USB/KVM switches

A USB/KVM switch is a hardware device that allows you to control several computers through one keyboard and mouse. KVMs go one step further and allow you to switch between screens. For a KVM, you connect your mouse, keyboard and screen to the KVM box, and you run cables from the box to each computer. The USB switch is keyboard and mouse only. You then switch between computers by pressing a physical button on the box.


  • For USB switches, each computer can have their own screen but you stil need to press a button to switch.
  • For KVM switches, you only need one monitor on your desk. If you only need to see information from one computer at a time, this is ideal.


  • USB/KVM switches aren’t guaranteed to be compatible with all keyboard, mice, monitor and computer combinations.
  • Extra cables and hardware can clutter your workspace.
  • The switching process can be clunky or slow. It’s not ideal if you need to switch often.
  • A reliable USB/KVM switch can be expensive.

Multi-device keyboards and mice

Multi-computer keyboards and mice enable you to switch from one device to another at the press of a button on the mouse or keyboard itself.


  • There is no single computer point of failure, you can restart a computer whilst using the other.
  • Sometimes you might not need to install any special software on your computers to make them work.
  • They’re usually compatible with both Windows and Mac.
  • Direct hardware connection for some operations.


  • You’re limited to models that support device switching, which can be more expensive.
  • The switching process can be slow. Usually, you have to cycle between devices rather than just jumping to the device you want. It can also take a while to connect to the new device.
  • The switching button can be clumsy to use. There’s a fine balance between being hard to reach or too easy to press accidentally.
  • Most only switch between two or a maximum of three devices.

Remote desktop software

Remote desktop software allows you to control all of your secondary computers through a single, main computer. So you only need one keyboard, mouse and screen, for the main device. When you select to connect to one of your secondary computers, it appears inside a window on your main computer, where you can interact with it like any other program.


  • You can connect to one or more computers in your network, regardless of their location. They might be in another room, or with the right setup, you can even access your home computer while you’re away.
  • Few or no cables required – the remote connection can work over WiFi.


  • Setting this up can take some figuring out if you’re not a technical wizard.
  • Users often experience problems with connecting, staying connected, and delays on the connection. This can hamper productivity.
  • Not all features are well supported over a remote connection. For instance, anything that moves (like a video) may appear to stutter.

There’s a lot of remote desktop software to choose from. If you’re looking for pointers, VNC and TeamViewer are two a popular options that let you connect to secondary computers running Windows, Mac OS or Linux. Do your research to make sure the software you choose works for your setup.

What’s the best option for me?

If your computers are far apart from each other

If your computers are separated and you can’t (or don’t want to) walk between them, remote desktop software is your best bet. But if you don’t mind picking up and putting down, a multi-device keyboard and mouse may lend itself to greater productivity.

If you only have (or only want to have) one screen

A KVM switch will let you connect it to all your computers, and switch between them. Price and quality vary greatly, so do your research before choosing.

If you want to see multiple computers on several screens side-by-side

Cross-computer control software such as Synergy is a simple and affordable solution. This will let you to work across several devices seamlessly, using a single keyboard and mouse of your choice.

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