How To Use 1 Keyboard 1 Mouse with 2 iMacs?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by audiotek, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. audiotek macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2015
    I have 2 iMacs

    Mid 2009 and a 2011

    Without getting a KVM how can I only use 1 mouse and 1 keyboard to access both iMacs? They are both sitting on my desk side by side.

    A friend of mine mentioned to connect both iMacs with a Thunderbolt cabler and use F2 to switch between the 2 I tried it but I don't think the 2009 supports that option.

    What else could I use?
  2. EugW macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
  3. audiotek thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2015
  4. EugW macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    Yes, I am using a Monoprice USB-C to DisplayPort dongle for my 2017 iMac, paired with a DisplayPort to Mini-DisplayPort cable from the dongle to the 2010 iMac.

    I think for your setup, if you wanted to use your 2009 iMac as a second monitor, all you would need is a Mini-DisplayPort cable. (You wouldn't be connecting via Thunderbolt. You would be connecting via Mini-DisplayPort.)
  5. audiotek thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2015
  6. EugW macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2017
    No. My method turns the 2nd iMac into a dumb monitor (ie. extended desktop from 1st iMac).

    If you want to use the two iMacs as two separate computers but with a common mouse and keyboard, then you need to run something like Synergy.
  7. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2007
    Screen sharing would do what you want allowing you to control/use the second machine from the one connected to the mouse and keyboard, best done from the machine with the higher resolution screen.
  8. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Neither of your iMacs has a USB-C port....!

    If you want to run two macs side-by-side, each using their own display, and operate them from a single keyboard and mouse, Synergy is exactly the tool for the job: just move the mouse off the side of one computer's screen and it pops up on the other one, and the keyboard input automatically follows it. There's also limited cut & paste support.

    It just needs a network connection between the two macs - WiFi will do fine. Its about $20, or you can waste more than $20 worth of your time trying to find an old, free version or you can spend $20 on a cable that might not actually do what you want...

    The other possibility for doing what you want is something like this:

    Basically, a KVM switch without the "V" part. You might consider that over Synergy if...
    (1) Synergy doesn't play nicely with some software you're using - most likely games - or the slightest hint of extra latency gets you shot.
    (2) You frequently need to use different boot options on the "remote" Mac (e.g. for alternate startup drives) before Synergy would have a chance to start
    (3) You don't, for some reason, want the remote machine to always start the Synergy client on boot.

    I've actually used one of those together with Synergy for those reasons - but I was juggling 3-4 Macs/Linux/PCs and displays so I'd often need to re-configure Synergy or change boot options.

    The other solutions suggested here...

    "Screen sharing" would duplicate the screen of one Mac in a window on the screen of the other Mac. Yes, it lets you control one mac from the other, but its not what you want if the screens are side-by-side.

    Connecting the second mac using "target display mode" - ( makes one Mac act as a second display for the other - doesn't actually solve your display switching problem so you might still need Synergy and/or the USB switch.

    If you want to do that, you need to use the 2009 iMac as the "target display" and connect the 2011 iMac to it using a miniDisplayPort-to-miniDisplayPort cable - not a Thunderbolt cable. The 2009 doesn't have Thunderbolt and can't do anything with a Thunderbolt cable. The 2011 can only act as "target display" for other Thunderbolt Macs, but it can output MiniDisplayPort.
  9. audiotek thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 27, 2015
    Perfect I'll go with Synergy. My desk is already cluttered of stuff so I'll pay the $20 and be done with it.

    I tried Teleport last night but I'm having access issues on one of the iMac
  10. Anonymous Freak macrumors 603

    Anonymous Freak

    Dec 12, 2002
    If you want to use your already-owned keyboard and mouse, Synergy or Teleport are the best options. Work best if they are connected via fast network connection (Ethernet to a Gigabit hub/router.)

    If you are in the market for a new keyboard/mouse, I've been happy with the Logitech MX Anywhere 2S, which supports Logitech's "Flow" feature - if you have one of their "Flow" capable mice (the MX Anywhere 2S or a few other mice,) plus a supported Logitech keyboard (a few to choose from, in a few different styles,) it can be set up so that you can just "mouse to the edge of the screen" on one computer and the keyboard and mouse actually switch inputs to the other computer.

    With Synergy or Teleport, the computer the keyboard/mouse are actually plugged in to (or are wirelessly connected to) has to be on to use them with the other computer - and it can't wake up the other computer. With Logitech's system, it actually switches the connection from one computer to the other, so you can shut off the first computer. And it will wake up the other computer, just as clicking a button on a Bluetooth mouse will wake up the computer it is connected to.

    (No compensation from Logitech, just a fan of this tech they have - and I hope other manufacturers do similar with their "multi device" keyboards and mice.)

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