How To Use One Keyboard To Control Multiple Windows PCs Using Synergy

If you use multiple Windows machines on your desk, you’re probably tired of swapping between keyboards and mice. There are hardware solutions—KVM switches, which use multiple inputs and outputs to share physical mice and keyboards. Synergy, a program that does the same thing over a network, is a more elegant solution…but it does require a little non-obvious setup. 
How To Use One Keyboard To Control Multiple Windows PCs Using Synergy

Step One: Download and Install Synergy

SourceForge has the latest version of Synergy available for Windows. Head to the address and download the MSI file on both computers. Ignore the sign-in for Synergy Pro—we’ll cover that later.
On both PCs, double-click the installation file and follow all the on-screen instructions. Once the installation is finished, start the program from the Start menu and continue. Make sure both computers are on the same local network, and you’ll need a mouse and keyboard for both machines for the initial setup—or you can move them back and forth as needed.

Step Two: Configure the Client Machine

You’re going to have to get information from both the client (the computer that doesn’t have a keyboard and mouse plugged in) and the server (the one that does), but at the moment, let’s just look at the former. On the client side, you’ll see the following:
Make sure that the entry “Client (use another computer’s keyboard and mouse” is checked, not “Server.” Make a note of the name of the screen name of the computer as it appears in the interface. In my case, the client PC’s name is “DESKTOP-KNUH1S0,” because I haven’t bothered to change the device name of my Surface Pro.
Now switch over to the server machine.

Step Three: Configure the Server Machine

The server machine is the PC that actually has the mouse and keyboard connected to it. On that computer, make sure that the check mark next to “Server (share this computer’s mouse and keyboard)” is applied, not “Client.” Now click “Configure Server.”
Click and drag the new computer button, the monitor icon in the upper-right corner, onto the blank space that has the icon with your server PC’s name. This grid represents the physical spacing of your two computer screens: in my case my Surface sits beneath the monitor for my server, “Enterprise”, so I’ll place it below it in the grid. If your computers are side by side, place the icons in the same relative locations as the physical screens. This step will determine which edge of which screen leads to which when moving the mouse cursor.
Double-click the computer icon you just selected, and give it the name of the client machine you took note of in Step Two. Click “OK,” then “OK” again on the grid screen.

Step Four: Make the Connection

Note the IP address of the server machine in the “IP addresses” field—you want the first one, in bold. Switch to the client machine and input this number (complete with periods) in the “Server IP” field.
Click the “Apply” button on Synergy on both the server and the client, then “Start” on both. Now you should be able to move your mouse cursor from one screen to the other, with the keyboard function following along. Neat!

Other Settings You May Want to Tweak

Here are some more useful settings in the free version of Synergy, available on the Server machine from the “Configure Server” button:
  • Dead corners: portions of the screen that won’t switch over to the other machine. Handy for interactive functions like the Start menu. Clients can get their own dead corners by clicking on the machine icon in the Screens and Links tab.
  • Switch: time to wait as the cursor passes over a screen border before switching over to the client or server machine. Handy if you find your main work machine constantly losing focus.
  • Use relative mouse moves: try this if the mouse cursor is significantly fast or slow on one machine.
  • Configuration save: Click File > Save configuration as to save this particular configuration on the server. Configurations can be retrieved with the “Use existing configuration” option if you’ve saved it as a local file.
Feel free to dig around the settings and see what else may be useful to you—but for now, you should be able to start using Synergy!

Buy the Paid Version of Synergy for More Features

The commercial component of Synergy administered by Symless adds features like an easier auto-config system, clipboard sharing, file dragging-and-dropping, and hotkey toggles. It’s a one-time payment of $19 for a lifetime single license to Synergy Pro. Consider the upgrade if you regularly rely on Synergy.