Input Director

Input Director

I, like many developers, have several computers at their disposal. Other than the dozen or so servers that I manage for myself and various clients (which are Linux systems and only ever touch with SSH) I have two Windows workstations at my desk. One is my desktop and the other my notebook. I use the notebook for all communication stuff like Email, IM, Skype, etc. (although it does get used as a test system from time to time as well). All my dev and everyday type work is done with my desktop system.

In the IT world there’s a thing called a KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) which sysadmins use to allow one keyboard, one monitor, and one mouse to control several systems. Just hit a keyboard combo (or go old school and press a button on the KVM box) and you can toggle through all your systems without having to move around and swap between keyboards. Major space saver as well. Not sure it’s used much anymore since SSH is really the only way to go, but maybe Windows sysadmins still use them.

Input Director connected computers

In any case, I had a need for a sort of KVM for my desktop to toggle between my desktop and my notebook. Since the notebook has a monitor I really only need a KM. Several years ago I found a product called Synergy, which was great in my experience a bit buggy…especially over a wireless connection. It did the trick, but I was super happy when I found Input Director. It is far less buggy, and is still being developed and improved upon.

Once you have the software set up (which I admit can be a little tricky at times) it basically allows you to (virtually, not physically) move your mouse off one machine and onto the other (via the network). Once the mouse is on the other system it will allow you use your keyboard to type to your hearts content. Of course moving your mouse off the screen back onto your primary computer will move mouse and keyboard control back to your main system. If you have more than two computers you can setup Input Director to manage them all quite easily. One note of caution though, if you have several people on the same network using the Input Director be sure to check you settings or your buddy will be able to take over your computer…makes for a few laughs on April 1.

One other point I want to make, you can copy and paste text from one system to the other. Apparently you can also copy and paste files as long as the source file is in a shared folder (although I’ve not tried this).