If you’re like some people, you might work nearly as productively on your phone or tablet as a computer. Of course, the vast majority of Android devices use your finger as the primary input method. But this is a big drawback when doing work; using your digits to control your devices simply isn’t as fluid as using a mouse and keyboard.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could use your computer’s input devices on your phone or tablet? Well, good news—you can! Here’s how to control your Android device using your computer’s mouse and keyboard.
Download DeskDock to Control Android With a Mouse
To follow this tutorial, you’ll need to use an app called DeskDock. There are a couple of other methods available (which we’ll touch on later), but using DeskDock is the fastest, easiest, and most reliable approach.
DeskDock offers both a free and a pro version. The Pro version is available as a separate download.
What Features Does DeskDock Offer?
DeskDock essentially turns your Android’s screen into a second monitor, allowing you to move your mouse onto your device by moving it over your computer screen’s boundary.
As you’d expect, more features are available in the pro version than the free version. For example, the free version only offers the ability to share your mouse. If you want to use your laptop’s keyboard and mouse on Android, you’ll need to go pro.
If you’re planning to use the app a lot, the pro version is well worth the investment. However, we recommend testing the free version first to ensure it meets your requirements.
Some of the best features of the free version of DeskDock include:
- Shared clipboards: You can easily copy and paste data between your PC and your device.
- Multitouch support: The app provides shortcuts that can simulate multitouch gestures on your device, meaning you’ll never need to physically touch your phone while the app is active.
- Multi-device support: If you’ve got several Android devices, you can hook them all up to one instance of the app and use them at the same time.
- Customizable mouse input: You can choose what action you want to associate with either a left- or right-click.
As mentioned, the pro version introduces shared keyboards. It also lets you map up to 10 mouse buttons, offers drag-and-drop support, and has keyboard shortcuts for your phone’s power, volume, and screen brightness. The pro version is ad-free.
As well as installing the app on your phone or tablet, you’ll also need to install the app’s server on your computer. The server has versions available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Lastly, unlike some of the other alternatives available in the Play Store, DeskDock does not require root access.
How to Set Up DeskDock
Now you know what DeskDock offers, let’s take a look at how to install the app and get it up and running on your machine.
Setting Up the Server: Java and USB Debugging
Before you install the app on your device, you first need to install the server on your machine. This is the most complicated part of the setup process.
The server relies on the Java Runtime Environment 1.7 or higher to run. If it’s not already present on your computer, head to the Java website to download and follow the on-screen installation instructions.
Next, you need to enable USB debugging on your phone or tablet. The option is tucked away in the hidden Developer Options menu. To activate the Developer Options menu, head to Settings > About Phone and tap on the Build Number field seven times.
Once your device confirms Developer Mode is enabled, go to Settings > System > Developer Options > Debugging > USB Debugging and make sure the toggle is turned on. Tap OK when you see the on-screen confirmation.
Connecting Your Device
Now you need to connect your Android device to your computer using a USB cable. In most cases, your usual charging cable will suffice.
Hopefully, connecting your device via USB will cause your computer to automatically install your device’s ADB drivers. If you’re unlucky and only the MTP drivers (or no drivers at all) are installed, you’ll need to find and install them manually.
Sadly, there are far too many Android devices for us to list all the downloads here. A simple Google search should provide what you’re looking for. If you struggle to find the right file, trying visiting the Android Developer website. In case you still can’t find the right drivers, contact your manufacturer’s customer support line directly.
Note that Mac users do not need to install any drivers.
Finally, you need to download the app’s server software using the link below. Make sure you download the version to match your operating system. The server is a standalone app; you don’t need to install any files on your system to use it.
If the server launches successfully, you’ll see an icon in your system tray. Right-click on the app to customize its settings.
Download: DeskDock Server (Free)
Install the Android App
Use the download links provided earlier to install the Android app on your device.
If you set up the server correctly, all you need to do is attach your phone to your computer via USB. The app should automatically locate the server and make the connection. However, if the app and server cannot establish a connection, it’s likely that you don’t have the right drivers installed. Revisit the previous section and verify you’re running your device’s ADB drivers rather than the MTP drivers.
Anyone running Android 8 Oreo or later will need to enable DeskDock as an Accessibility Service (Settings > Accessibility > Downloaded Services > DeskDock and slide the toggle next to Use Service into the On position). Doing so allows the mouse cursor to display over the top of other apps. Pre-Oreo operating systems do not need to complete this step.
Alternatives Ways to Control Android With a Mouse
Some readers may be familiar with Synergy. It was once an open source project, but the main fork is now behind a paywall. Some smaller forks are available via GitHub (Synergy Android 7 and Synergy Android Cyanogen) but both require root access and are thus unsuitable for most users.
Alternatively, you might purchase a USB OTG (On-The-Go) cable so you can use a normal USB keyboard on your phone. We recommend the UGREEN Micro USB 2.0 OTG Cable on Amazon.
When you’re ready, plug everything in, then head to Settings > System > Languages and input to set up USB devices. If you’d like to learn more, check out our list of cool ways to use OTG cables with Android.
Do You Use a Mouse and Keyboard on Android?
We’ve explained how to use a mouse on your mobile device using the DeskDock app, and introduced you to a couple of alternatives. Hopefully these let you use your device just as you like.
For more tips like this, check out different ways to navigate your Android phone and how to mirror your Android screen on a PC or Mac without root. You can also control your Android phone from your computer!