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Control your Android phone or tablet using the mouse and keyboard on your computer. Whether you want to respond to texts using your computer’s keyboard or use your tablet as a second screen for research, this setup feels like magic when it’s working.

Even better: you can copy text on one device and paste it on another.

Synergy has long made it possible for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers to share the same mouse and keyboard Synergy- Multiple Computers On One Mouse & Keyboard Synergy- Multiple Computers On One Mouse & Keyboard Read More . Doing so is seamless: move your mouse pointer past the edge of one screen and you’re immediately in control of another device. This is perfect if you have two computers on the same desk.

synergy-demonstratio

It’s 2014, and most people don’t have multiple computers on the same desk — but it’s not unusual to have an Android phone or tablet alongside your computer. If you’d like to control that device using the mouse and keyboard you already control your computer with, the Android version of Synergy is exactly what you’re looking for.

Synergy for Android requires your device to be rooted — there’s no way around this. It’s also buggy on some devices, shutting down regularly. Be warned: your mileage may vary.

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How Does This Work?

Explaining how this works is one thing; showing you is another. Here’s a quick demonstration of Synergy in action:

Interested? Let’s get this working on your rooted Android device.

How Do I Set It Up

First things first: download the desktop version Synergy and the Android version of Synergy. You’ll need to install both.

Now let’s get into terminology. There are two main pieces to a Synergy setup: the server, and the client.

Don’t leave! It’s not as complex as it sounds. The “server” is the device you’re going to use to control your other device — that is, the device hooked up to your mouse and keyboard. In this setup, that probably means your computer. The “client” is the device being controlled by another device’s mouse and keyboard — in this case, probably your Android device.

Let’s go over setting up the server first. You’re going to want to open Synergy, then set up your computer to run as the server. You then need to tell the program how to arrange your displays:

syergy-android-displays

Your server is in the center; place your Android to whichever side you like. This is a Mac setup, but the options shouldn’t be different on a Linux or Windows computer. Give your Android device a name you’ll remember — something like “Android”.

When everything’s setup up the way you like, take note of your server’s IP.

synergy-android-main

Knowing that, hit the “Start” button and move on to Synergy on your Android device.

synergy-android-client-side

Make sure the “Client Name” is the same one you used for your device when you were setting up your screen arrangement on your server. Use your server’s IP in the next box, and leave the Server Port untouched (assuming you didn’t change it). You should now be able to tap “Connect”.

If everything is working, you can now move your mouse pointer from your computer to your Android device. On many devices this is crashing regularly as it is an alpha build and still in the works. Hopefully the client will receive updates soon.

Screen Keeps Turning Off

This setup becomes less useful if you screen turns off constantly, which is why I suggest installing Wakey on your device alongside Synergy.

wakey-android

This will stop Android from shutting down your screen Wakey: Stop Android From Turning Off Your Screen Wakey: Stop Android From Turning Off Your Screen Read More , which is something you want if you’re going to use your device as a second screen.

What Can You Use This For?

Okay, so now you’ve got this working, but what will you use it for? If you’re using your tablet for productivity It's Not Just For Angry Birds: Preparing Your Tablet for Productivity It's Not Just For Angry Birds: Preparing Your Tablet for Productivity Tablets can be fantastic consuming information and playing games – and sometimes seem to be designed specifically for that. But there's no reason you can't also use your tablet to get some work done. Read More , you’ve probably already got some ideas. But here are a few more we came up with:

  • Answering texts using your computer’s keyboard
  • Developing apps? Push them to your phone, then test them without the need to pick up your device.
  • Hate the desktop chat interface for Google Hangouts? Me too. Use your tablet instead.
  • Research on your tablet, write on your computer.

My colleague Ryan showed you how a tablet can boost your desktop computer at work Use Your Android Tablet To Boost Your Desktop Computer at Work Use Your Android Tablet To Boost Your Desktop Computer at Work Android tablets have a ton of potential, with the ability to use bluetooth, wi-fi, awesome cameras on the front and back, a keyboard and mouse, and a small form-factor that make it highly portable. In... Read More ; I have a feeling everything he outlined would be even better with Synergy setup and working.

Now, having said how much I like this, I think it could be better. For me, occasional crashes caused this setup to stop working. The project is open source, and could use some love, so I’m going to use this platform to beg all of you with the skills for the job to work on getting this working. You’ll make a lot of people very happy.

Everyone else, though, let’s talk. What are you using this setup for? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

  1. cybergrime
    April 19, 2016 at 6:06 am

    I've been a huge fan of synergy for years and this is an alpha release so I can't talk crap about about it. I guess no one is actively developing this? If I find the time, I'll use my special developer powers to fork the project and get it working. That's a big if though unfortunately.

    • Ben
      May 11, 2016 at 9:07 am

      Please do, I would buy this app in a second!!!

  2. Jim Bardsley
    September 29, 2015 at 6:38 am

    OK, I DON'T have it working yet...... Server is on my laptop, client is on my Android (5.0.1), it shows connected on my server, but yet when I slide over to my Android, no mouse or keyboard there. Server log shows moving to Android, but never actually shows up on my device. Any pointers (no pun intended)?

    • Justin Pot
      September 30, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      Ha, no pointers sorry, there just seems to be mixed results and there is way too much variation in the Android ecosystem for me to troubleshoot for everyone. Sorry about that.

  3. swapnil
    April 17, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    this is not working on my ubuntu 14.10 ...
    i tried manually switching the screen using hotkeys but did'nt work as well..

  4. Dargo
    January 9, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    i was looking for this solution for a while now, despite the fact that everything seems to work, debug shows leaving screen, entering android, connection is okay but unfortunately the mouse is invisible and the keystrokes aren't send to the device, so sad, i was really looking forward to this... oh well...

  5. Solaria
    December 13, 2014 at 3:26 am

    Just installed this on an MK808B Android stick, using keyboard on Ubuntu 14.10. It works... but it has issues.

    Occasionally, the cursor on the Android "sticks", and won't go more than about 2/3 up the screen. Moving the cursor in a circle usually un-sticks it.

    Similar problem horizontally: sometimes jumps back to the Ubuntu screen when it's still 1/3 away from the edge.

    Pretty good for a 0.0005 Alpha release...

  6. Ronak
    November 3, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Thanks Justin for your efforts. I'll have to wait for an updated version I guess... if it comes...

  7. Ronak
    November 2, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Nope... nothing :(
    I tried clicking on different screens, which will have definitely some effect if the click had been working.. but no effect.

    I read somewhere about some permission of /dev/uinput ... u have any idea about that?

    or some other solution?

    • Justin Pot
      November 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      Yeah, I'm not sure about what to try next. Sorry. I hope this program sees an update for this and other issues...

  8. Ronak
    November 1, 2014 at 4:23 am

    I was able to install Synergy on both Win7 and my Note 3. On Win7 client, it does show that it is connected to my Note 3, but I cannot see my mouse cursor on the phone when I move it out of the screen...

    any clues?

    • Justin Pot
      November 1, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Does clicking have any sort of affect?

  9. Chris B
    August 19, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Well, I messed around downloading and setting up Synergy on my Win7 laptop and my Asus MeMo Pad, and the client and server find each other and show a valid connection, but the mouse won't go past the edge of the laptop display and the "server" log shows unresponsive client.

    Too bad, it looked interesting.

  10. pmshah
    August 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    On my old Gingerbread phone I could do this with the phone's desktop visible right on my pc desktop with TeamViewer. For whatever reason this no longer works. I tried the solution suggested here but was not too comfortable. There was too much lag in response. But then why do I need it at all? I have USB on the go and wifi keyboard mouse that work flawlessly

  11. pmshah
    August 14, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    The stupid thing keeps giving me message that it is connected and switching window but nothing of the sort happens.

    For most of my work I am more at ease with Airdroid and for "real screen mode" TeamViewer. There is not even a guide or a help file. Not on Android nor on the PC. Not worth fighting with.

  12. Najib Dajani
    August 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    A second vote for Mobizen. I tried Synergy just to control my Windows servers from my Windows PC and it was buggy, frustrating to set up and quit working intermittently.

  13. John Sr
    August 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Just downloaded the free Mobizen and am using it with a Galaxy S3 phone and a Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. Seems to work fine. Check it out!

  14. Gary Mugford
    August 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    TeamViewer QS (Quick Support) includes remote access and control from a desktop running the full version of TeamViewer (which is free for non-commercial use). It seems to be able to do most of what Mobizen is listing as capabilities, although it is obviously more support-based rather than media-sharing based.

    • Federico G
      August 13, 2014 at 5:42 pm

      Yes, and other problem I had is TV is unable to lock your phone screen. With Mobizen your phone goes to sleep normally and when you want to use it from your desktop you just click on the phone's screen and it actually wakes up as usual.

  15. Henk van Setten
    August 12, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    This looked promising, but turns out to be a geeks-only solution. Disappointing... There's no way I, as an average user, am going to root my phone first, just to get a system where this may work.

    Frankly, this kind of thing is a bit like enticing people with a "free" solution to have their car auto-warm-up on frosty winter mornings -- and then telling them for this to work, they'll need to install a Raspberry Pi under the dashboard first...

    In this case, I'd surely like to have a simple and working solution, but I guess I'll have to wait for a real one.

    • Justin P
      August 12, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      You're going to be waiting a long time for a solution that doesn't involve rooting, unless Google implements this themselves (unlikely). Put simply, security settings on a phone that's not rooted won't allow for it.

    • Federico G
      August 13, 2014 at 2:06 am

      Look for Mobizen in the Play Store. You install the app and then can access your device screen from a Web browser or by installing a dedicated app in your desktop computer. It doesn't need root and I tried it in a Galaxy Note 2 and a LG G2 and works great.

    • Sonylisation
      August 15, 2014 at 1:39 am

      That is quite a bad analogy, and what you are talking about when you complain about the need to di it this way, is that you want a program to do all of it for you.

      It still needs to be done the same way, wheter you like it or not.

      And, it is quite easy. Just do the same thing as always when it comes to something new, google how to.

    • Han a Kensei
      January 9, 2015 at 5:23 am

      in the Title "Screen Turning off"

      If you don't want to install "Wakey app" just take your android device go to:

      Settings > About Device > Click in "Compilation Number"
      do this until you reach the message "You have been unlock developer mode"
      now go to seetings again, you can see a new option on the final named "Development Options", tab on this option and look for "Active Screen"
      This option may help you to conect a USB Cable to PC and keep the Android device always On

      I hope this trick help someone you guys!

    • Han a Kensei
      January 9, 2015 at 5:30 am

      Is interesting the level of productivity you can reach when you put your tablet at side of your PC, if you want to talk on LINE, Skype, Whatsapp, just reach your tablet and typing with your comfortable Physical PC keyboard with the velocity of your two hands!

      If you are developer is too dificult to test SMS applications on Android PC Emulators like VirtualBox or BlueStacks, in my experience Synergy for Android works great!

    • Anonym
      May 25, 2015 at 10:24 am

      No need to root your phone with all the risks and stuff but there is an app called KingRoot, you open it tap on root and Voila ! your phone is rooted.

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