Chances are that if you’re reading this on a computer, you’ve got a keyboard and mouse connected to your machine. While you can navigate Windows with just your keyboard or mouse, it’s pretty hard to use a computer without either input method!
It’s standard to use one mouse and keyboard (even for multi-PC setups) but there are plenty of situations where a second keyboard or mouse would come in handy. Maybe you want to control a media PC from across the room with a wireless mouse, or want one hand on an extra keyboard for instant access to shortcuts. Whatever your reason, here are a few ways you can use multiple keyboards and mice on one computer.
The Basic Way: Just Connect Them Both!
You might never have tried this, but Windows can detect and use multiple keyboard or mice with no problem. Just plug in an additional mouse or keyboard via a USB port, and give Windows a moment to add its drivers. Then, you can type using either keyboard, or control the cursor with both mice.
Using Windows with two mice BECAUSE I CAN.
— John Topley (@topley) July 20, 2015
If you mirror your main PC to a TV and want to control it with a wireless mouse at your TV, this is a great solution. Both devices perform the same function on your computer, so you can switch between keyboards after every word you type if you like.
Logitech’s Unifying Receiver
Modern Logitech mice and keyboards all come with a Unifying Receiver. This little dongle plugs into a USB port and can connect up to six Logitech devices to your system. Thus, if you want to use multiple keyboards or mice and they’re all Logitech, you can save a few USB ports.
To take advantage of this, make sure you have the Logitech Unifying Software on your system. For those who don’t have it yet, install a copy and follow the steps to add each of your devices. If you already have a device paired, search for Unifying from the Start Menu to open the app. Click Advanced, then Pair a New Device. Follow the steps to switch the device on or off, and it will pair with your existing receiver.
Get Dual Control with TeamPlayer
The built-in Windows solution lets you use two devices to perform the same function, but what if you want two separate cursors on the screen? For that, TeamPlayer gets the job done. Download the free trial of TeamPlayer to get started — there’s nothing unusual about the installation. After it’s done, click the Trial tab and hit the Start Trial button to activate the software for a limited time.
You’ll see a small window which controls the app. The right button, which looks like a Full Screen icon, adds a red box to your screen. Any additional cursors can’t move outside the bounds of this box if you enable it — perfect for restricting other users to one app. Click this button again to let the other users have full reign of the screen.
Click Start Session, and TeamPlayer will start splitting device inputs. The first mouse to move becomes User 1 and additional mice are added as User 2 and so on, up to six. If you have multiple keyboards connected, the same rule applies for them. Each user can click on a different own window and work in an app without affecting the others. So with two keyboards and two mice, User 1 can type a document in Word while User 2 browses the web.
The gear Settings icon lets you change a few options in the program. Under Mouse & Cursor you can remove the colors and labels (though these help distinguish between them) and change the cursor size and speed. Check the Shortcuts tab to add a keyboard shortcut to start or stop multi-user mode. You can also click the Cursor Labels button next to the question mark icon to rename the generic User 1 labels.
That’s all you need to work with TeamPlayer. Unfortunately, this is an expensive solution as it’s aimed at business users. TeamPlayer allows a 14-day trial, but then costs a whopping $299/year for just two users. It’s a solid piece of software and performs its function well. But unless you absolutely need two unique controls on one machine, we don’t recommend spending that kind of money on this tool.
Try TeamViewer from Another PC
Another way to use two cursors is creating your own solution with TeamViewer. You can not only use it to make powerful remote connections easy, but also to add a second mouse to your computer in a pinch.
Download and install TeamViewer on both your computer and another machine that will serve as the extra mouse. Once set up, connect the second machine to the host using the ID number and passcode from the main computer. After this, you’ll have two cursors — one from your computer, and one that the remote computer can use to control yours. Head to Options > Remote control and check the box to Show your partner’s cursor on both machines, else you can’t see where the other one is!
While this won’t let you perform independent functions like TeamPlayer, it works for letting two people control cursors on the same screen. It’s useful for reviewing documents so both parties can select objects to show the other. But since the remote machine moves the host’s mouse with their cursor, it’s not a true dual-cursor setup.
Depending on your connection speed, the remote mouse might suffer from some lag. But if you don’t need exact precision from the second mouse, you can try this method to attach an extra mouse to your laptop and use it as a secondary pointer on your desktop.
Don’t Forget About Collaboration Software
Depending on what you want two cursors for, you might not even need the above solutions to connect a second mouse. For collaborating on a document with someone else, you can invite them to a Google Doc or use OneNote to brainstorm together.
Everyone uses their own PC, but works on the same document together. These let you benefit from several users working on the same screen at once without any complicated setup or extra software.
What Do You Use Two Peripherals For?
Most people probably won’t need to use two mice and keyboards at the same time. Windows’ default way of allowing two devices to control the same input works great for home media setups. But these options give you a few methods to add extra peripherals to your PC. If you need another solution, try adding an on-screen keyboard or mouse tool.
If you’ve got an Android device, there’s another option. You can turn your phone or tablet into a mouse and keyboard, providing you with another set of both input devices.
Looking for a wireless mouse and keyboard combo? Look here:
Image Credit: Dean Drobot via Shutterstock.com