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Better even than a multiple monitor set-up, is the multiple computer set-up. A familiar phenomenon for the geek with a laptop for on the go and a desktop computer at home or at work. Instead of splitting your computing power over several displays, you’re putting several disjunct systems in parallel.
Then again, it’s almost comical how you have to juggle your computer mice and keyboards. An awkward factor that only increases with the number of devices on your desk. The most obvious way out would be to use KVM switch; a hardware device that connects one set of input devices to multiple computers. Better yet would be to use a software KVM solution, like ShareMouse.
ShareMouse (Mac + Windows)
ShareMouse does exactly what you would expect from a KVM switch, and more. After installing the application on two computers (or more, after purchasing a license), ShareMouse will automatically spot other computers running ShareMouse on the same network and connect with them. ShareMouse is available for Mac OS X and Windows computers, and will work in both directions.
When your mouse hits the edge of your display, it will jump over to the display of the other computer. You can use either keyboard to type on whatever computer where the mouse is currently located. With ShareMouse, you can use one keyboard and one mouse to control all devices on your desk, or you can use the computer you’re currently working on to pull up information on any of the other computers.
The main concern for KVM software is the overal responsiveness of the mouse and keyboard while you’re working on a different computer. In this aspect, ShareMouse has hit a home run. Mouse movement is fluid, and there’s no noticeable keyboard delay. Even while using your average Wi-Fi to connect both computers, you could be fooled into thinking you were using the primary mouse and keyboard.
Clipboard & File Sharing
On top of sharing your mouse and keyboard, ShareMouse will also share your files across computers using drag-and-drop file sharing and clipboard sharing.
Drag and drop lets you select a files on one computer, and drag it over to another computer. While this worked as advertised on my Windows set-up, it didn’t on my Mac OS X set-up. You shouldn’t expect to rely on these features; there’s no harm in trying, but performance clearly depends on your computer set-up. Rather, you could use Dropbox or a simple LAN connection to share your files across computers.
When enabled, ShareMouse will also try to keep your clipboard contents in sync. Of course you shouldn’t expect to copy a multiple gigabyte file, but text, image clippings and smaller files are fair game. Again, sharing files worked haphazardly between Mac OS X Leopard and Mac OS X Lion. Sharing text clippings on the other hand, worked like a charm.
In conclusion, ShareMouse works great to share your mouse and keyboard; easy to set up and incredibly responsive. However, there are better and more reliable ways to share files locally.
What do you use to tweak your computer set-up? Let us know in the comments!