Workflow for Switching Between iMac and PC with iMac as Screen

Discussion in 'iMac' started by lastmile, May 30, 2011.

  1. lastmile macrumors regular

    Mar 10, 2008
    Lately I've been switching into Windows XP using Bootcamp quite a bit to play games. Its kind of a pain to take a few minutes to reboot into XP and then back to OS X (I won't tolerate Windows for general use) just to play a game for a few minutes.

    I've got a PC that should be sufficient for what I've been playing and I want to use the iMac as a screen. With both running I should be able to switch back and forth between games and OS X quickly.

    I guess the simplest solution for switching over to the PC is to use the iMac's wireless keyboard to enter target screen mode then use a wired keyboard and mouse on the PC. When the PC's not in use they could just be pushed out of the way.

    Wireless keyboard and mouse setups for both the PC and iMac seem to be more complicated. Can someone who's got a setup working describe what they're using and how well it works?
  2. Furrybeagle macrumors 6502


    Sep 13, 2004
    I don’t have an iMac, so this is all untested, but…

    One option is to get a cheap KVM switch and plug in a wired Apple keyboard. The keyboard should work fine on both OS X and Windows. Then you can switch to target screen mode, hit the switch on the KVM, and go on using Windows. As for the mouse, you could either just use two mice, or get a wireless PC mouse with a USB transmitter and also plug it into the KVM.

    Another option is to use an application like, where the Mac acts as the host and the PC acts as a client. The kb+mouse attached to your iMac will be used to control both computers. Synergy is meant to be used to automatically move control from a single keyboard and mouse between two screens each attached to a different computer. But, you can set up Synergy so hitting a certain key-combo moves input control over to the PC’s screen, and vice versa.
  3. elithrar macrumors 6502


    May 31, 2007
    If the games aren't demanding, just run your Bootcamp partition in a VM (using VMWare). I use this to play any non-taxing games (like Baldur's Gate 2) and only reboot if I'm going to play something more taxing.
  4. lastmile thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 10, 2008
    I've got VMWare and these aren't the most taxing games but for instance I couldn't play Half Life 2.

    The KVM switch gave me an idea... BTW I got into this in a similar thread awhile ago that started with me looking for a G5 graphics card with a Mini Displayport to use the iMac.

    1. Get KVM switch with USB keyboard and mouse input. Graphics don't matter so get a cheap one that only handles analog graphics.

    2. Put receiver for MX Revolution mouse in KVM.

    3. Get a third party bluetooth receiver and link Apple wireless keyboard to that rather than the iMac's built-in bluetooth.

    4. Connect iMac and PC to KVM.

    iMac->PC = trigger target screen mode, hit kvm button to switch keyboard and mouse controls to PC

    PC->iMac = hit kvm button to switch keyboard and mouse to iMac, switch out of target screen mode

    As long as you can get to target screen mode with the Apple keyboard setup that way.
  5. kylera macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2010
    How did you purchase Half Life 2? If you got it through Steam, you should be able to get the Mac version for free.

    The biggest problem with this will be too much latency as everything is done through networking instead. So most games, let alone taxing ones, won't work.

    Assuming your iMac is a previous-generation 27-inch model that supports TDM, there's the issue of whether the graphics card in the gaming PC has displayport, and then there's also the question of whether that graphics card will play well with the iMac or not. Google seems to show that TDM is EXTREMELY picky with the source.
  6. elithrar macrumors 6502


    May 31, 2007
    I'd suggest this, if you can. All the other solutions—such as a KVM, or an over-the-network solution—seem to be more time consuming than simply rebooting.
  7. lastmile thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 10, 2008
    Once I get a chance to try out the KVM idea I'll post what I'm using and the results. I planned on getting a Radeon 6870 with minidisplay ports for the PC and the card's been reported to work fine with the iMac.
  8. bpeeps macrumors 68030


    May 6, 2011
    Yeah, I agree.

    Another option, get an SSD and put Windows and OSX on it, speed up that boot time!

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