We need your help to decide which application is the best choice – based on personal experience only!! Please provide details by replying to this article, and please bear in mind that ease of use is a major consideration.
We recently published an article regarding ShareMouse (HERE), a new software which allows users to share a single mouse and keyboard across multiple computers. It turns out that both ShareMouse and the associated website are actually a work in progress and exact details remain unclear. At this stage it appears ShareMouse for Windows will be available in both freeware and shareware editions – the freeware version being limited to two computers with a maximum of three monitors. ShareMouse for Mac is destined to be shareware only, no free version – so a cross platform setup is going to cost money.
The article generated quite a few comments relating to similar freeware, with two alternatives mentioned predominantly – ‘Mouse without Borders’ and ‘Synergy’.
Mouse without Borders is a recently released free utility developed by Microsoft’s Garage project which allows single mouse and keyboard sharing across a maximum four computers. Mouse without Borders operates in much the same way as ShareMouse – by utilizing an existing local network. Microsoft suggests a wired Ethernet connection rather than over local Wi-Fi network, as the former is generally considered more reliable. However, user reports tend to suggest that the Wi-Fi method also works very well. Mouse without Borders appears to be user friendly and quite easy to configure, it has predominantly received favorable reviews/comments. It should be noted, it does not support any cross platform operations – all connected computers must be running Windows.
Synergy is a free and open source application which has been around for quite some time. Synergy not only allows mouse/keyboard sharing across multiple Windows based computers but also cross platform, incorporating both Mac and Linux. Synergy is server/client based software but I could not locate any information as to a maximum number of client machines supported – what I did come across are numerous reports of the software being quite buggy.
When researching Synergy, I read through lots of editorial and user reviews. Plus I delved right into the Synergy Forum – associated forums are often a great way to gather intel and assess a software’s performance. The two most often repeated points are:
- Synergy in a Windows only setup is not terribly user friendly. The GUI is not exactly intuitive and configuration is somewhat complex, there is definitely a degree of difficulty involved.
- Synergy in a cross platform setup is not at all user friendly and is also quite buggy. There is no GUI to assist with cross platform setup, so configuration is quite complex and definitely presents a challenge.
I’m sure there are plenty of happy Synergy users out there but, based on the evidence to hand, I would not universally recommend Synergy – only perhaps for more advanced users.
During my research I happened across yet another contender which, I have to admit, I had not heard of previously:
Input Director is very similar to Synergy but restricted to Windows only – there is zero cross platform support. However, unlike Synergy, user complaints are rare. Both editorial and user reviews are overwhelmingly favorable – you can read through a nice article comparing Input Director and Synergy features/usability HERE.
My Verdict – based on research only (zero personal experience):
For Windows only: Mouse without Borders definitely sounds the top choice, largely based on ease of configuration and use. Although we will be very interested to hear from Input Director users on that one.
For Cross Platform: Seems there is only one contender really – Synergy. It’s a shame Synergy appears to be both buggy and rather complex.
The jury is out on ShareMouse for the moment, at least until everything has been finalized and the software has been officially launched. However, ShareMouse free does appear to be user friendly and quite easy to setup so could still come right into calculations. An associate and fellow writer, who is a pretty good judge, describes ShareMouse as being “a fine program”.
Please let us know which one you have installed and why – or any other alternatives you have personal experience with.