05-14-10 | Blog Post
Easily work with two (or more) side-by-side computers using a single keyboard and mouse.
If you happen to have more than one computer at your desk, and they’re all on the same network, there’s a great (and free) tool that lets you access multiple machines using just one keyboard and mouse: ‘Input Director’ (http://inputdirector.com). Each machine will need its own monitor, but only one will need to have a keyboard and mouse. Once installed and configured properly on each machine, Input Director lets you slide the mouse from the edge of one monitor to the next, “activating” the second machine.
Personally, I use two machines while doing development: my main development PC and the netbook that goes with me everywhere. With Input Director, I don’t need to type on the cramped netbook keyboard, or use its small touchpad (which are both fine in a pinch, but not optimum for a full day’s work). Instead, I simply move my mouse “off” the edge of my main machine’s monitor, and it appears on the netbook. Instantly, anything I type on the keyboard is redirected to the small machine. Do you have multiple monitors on each machine? That’s not a problem; Input Director can handle it. My primary development PC has dual monitors, and I have a larger external monitor for the netbook (yes, four screens altogether), and Input Director happily tracks my mouse anywhere.
And it’s not just keyboard and mouse clicks that get shared between the two machines; Input Director also manages a shared clipboard as well. I can highlight text on one machine, copy it to the clipboard, slide the mouse to the other machine, and paste it there. If the machines are configured to share files, then those too can be copied through the common clipboard as well.
It sounds like a cliché, but my productivity really has improved since I’ve started using this program. I can debug code on one screen while my application runs on another. On the second computer I can be updating help text, while checking websites for programming issues and answering emails, all very naturally, with just a single keyboard and mouse. Input Director is a great tool.