USB Sharing

My new year (and the end of the old one) was spent moving atoms – lots of them! While I was away for the last four months doing my two Artist Residencies, all of my ‘stuff’ was in storage at my studio (my apartment building was bought out by NZTA so they can demolish it for a roading development) So upon return I have slowly been moving everything into my new place at the beach in Plimmerton and by the end of January my Miramar studio will be no more….
So it is also a great opportunity to rebuild my studio and one issue I struck today I found an excellent solution for, so figured I’d share it: USB keyboard & mouse sharing between multiple computers.

My physical desktop space is always fighting for attention, which controllers to have immediately at hand? When you add a few music controllers (ableton Push, MIDI keyboards etc) then the idea of having two keyboards & two mice cluttering up precious space just is not going to fly – its not like I operate both keyboards at the same time, I want to share one keyboard and mouse between the two computers.

The old school way to do this was via a hardware switcher, so if you had two computers side by side, you would install a small hardware switcher and send the USB signals from one mouse & keyboard to whichever computer the switch was directing them to…. It seems a bit Pavlovian (can we attach a bell to the switch?) but since in my new configuration I want to have two macs side by side (MacBookPro and MacPro Tower) I started searching for a USB switch and found this: SHARE MOUSE – a software USB switch!

By installing a tiny app on both computers one USB keyboard and mouse is shared via whatever existing network is in place – wifi, ethernet etc… A few tweaks and suddenly my two computers are behaving like one: I can manually switch devices via a hotkey, but I can also set up the position of the two monitors so the switching is seamless, eg if I move my mouse off the right side of screen of computer 1 it switches control over to computer 2 just as though both screens were running on the same computer! This is genius implementation, and in hindsight makes complete sense – no delay, no switch or key to press!! But SHARE MOUSE doesn’t stop there, it also syncs the clipboard between computers eg say I have a spreadsheet open on the right hand computer and want to copy text from there and paste it as metadata into SoundMiner running on the left hand computer… easy!

It also offers support for a few features I have no need for, but could be potentially super useful eg on a dub stage: you can share a single mouse and keyboard between up to nine computers! And it works on both OSX and Windows….


4 Responses to USB Sharing

  1. Josh says:

    Check this out! Very simple and easy to use as well…

  2. Justin says:

    Fantastic! Always thought a program like this existed but didn’t bother to search for one. Now I can get rid of my other keyboard and mouse at work. The clipboard sharing is just icing on the cake.

  3. dylan wood says:

    Synergy does a good job of this too and is open source.

  4. robin says:

    I was going to say exactly that… nifty!

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