Configuring Synergy Mac

Configuring Synergy

Once you have the software installed on all of your machines, you are ready to begin configuring your systems. The biggest decision is which computer will have the keyboard and mouse physically connected. This will probably be based on some sort of unique personal preferences. The computer with the keyboard and mouse physically connected will be the “Server”.

synergy server config1 Create a Windows, Mac, Linux Super Computer Using Synergy

Before you go any further, find the Internal IP Address and Computer Name of all of the machines that you are going to control.

Configuring the Server (Computer sharing its keyboard and mouse)

You need to tell the server which computers it is going to be controlling and where they will be physically located (to the left, right, above, diagonally above, etc.).

Enter the computer names of each machine and place them where they belong. As you can see in the image below, I have three computers set up, with “christopher” in the center, “Laptop” on the left, and “cm-mac” on the right.

synergy computer layout1 Create a Windows, Mac, Linux Super Computer Using Synergy

The interface will look slightly different on each OS, but they are conceptually alike.

Configuring the Clients (Computers “borrowing” the Server’s keyboard)

Now that your server knows about the other clients and where they are located, you need to tell the clients to allow the server to take control of them.

Select the Use Another Computer’s Keyboard and Mouse option on the client machine. Then, add in the Server’s Internal IP Address. If you set a password on the Server, enter it on each client machine. (Use the Advanced button below.)

synergy client configuration1 Create a Windows, Mac, Linux Super Computer Using Synergy

Once you have your client(s) configured, click the Start button to give control to the Server’s keyboard and mouse. That’s it! Now, just move your cursor across the edge of your monitor onto the next machine. The cursor will instantly start to move on the client machine and anything that you type will be happening on the client machine. If you want, you can select and copy text on that machine and then move your cursor to one of the other machines and paste it in seamlessly. Pretty cool and simple, right?

See Synergy in Action

The following video shows how to configure Synergy to share a keyboard across Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. It also shows you a simple example of what you can do once you have everything set up.


There are of course a several available options for working with multiple operating systems. I actually do use a few of them when the situation lends itself, but none of them give you the most power and features of each OS all at the same time. Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives and their pros and cons.

Option Description Tools Pros Cons
VNC Virutal Network Computing- Use VNC to remotely connect to and control other computers (typically not in the same physical location). Chicken of the VNC,RealVNC, Remote Desktop Protocol,TightVNC, UltraVNC,Virtual private network, X Window System, X11vnc,  Comparison of remote desktop software Can connect from anywhere in the world.
Uses very little resources on either machine.
Can’t copy and paste between machines.
Multiple computers share one monitor’s space.
Can be a “glitchy” user experience.
Virtual Machine This creates additional “virtual” computers on a computer so that multiple computers and operating systems can run on the same machine. Parallels, VMware Fusion, VirtualBox,Windows Virtual PC You only need to have one machine.
Cheap and space efficient.
Puts a HEAVY bourdon on your computer.
Physical and Virtual systems run slow.
Two machines sharing one monitor’s space.
Takes up a lot of one machine’s hard drive.
Dual Boot/Multi Boot Partition the hard drive on one computer so that multiple operating systems can be installed. When the machine is started, you can select which operating system to “boot”. Boot Camp (Mac),Dual Boot Runs at the machine’s full speed. Can’t work simultaneously on multiple OS’s.
Too much time watching the rebooting screens.
Takes up a lot of one machine’s hard drive.

What are your thoughts?

What do you do when you need to work on multiple machines and operating systems? Please let me know in the comments. If you have a cool solution, I would love to feature it in a future article.