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October 30 2013

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Controlling Multiple Computers Using Synergy - YouTube
http://www.vitamincm.com/control-multiple-computers-using-synergy Control multiple computers with one Keyboard and Mouse using Synergy. This tutorial shows y...
Play fullscreen
Controlling Multiple Computers Using Synergy - YouTube
http://www.vitamincm.com/control-multiple-computers-using-synergy Control multiple computers with one Keyboard and Mouse using Synergy. This tutorial shows y...

January 31 2012

Create a Windows, Mac, Linux Super Computer Using Synergy

This tutorial will show you how to use Synergy to Control Multiple Computers with One Keyboard and Mouse

control multiple computers using synergy

OVERVIEW: You will learn how to use Synergy, a free software application to control multiple computers with one keyboard and mouse. These computers can all be running different operating systems.

What Is Synergy?

Synergy is an open source software application used for sharing a single keyboard and mouse between multiple computers. One user can control several computers in the same physical area, with a monitor connected to each. The “server” software runs on the computer with the keyboard and mouse connected and the “client” software runs on the computers that are being controlled. Synergy can run on all of the popular operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, and UNIX) at the same time. This means that you can move your cursor from your Windows desktop to control a Mac, and a Linux machine without batting an eye.

Why I Use Synergy

I constantly need to use and document applications in Windows, Mac, and Linux environments. This requires me to have at least one machine set up running each of those operating systems. I currently have three laptops on the desk in my office running each of those systems. Synergy allows me to line them up next to each other and use my mouse to bounce back and forth between them as if I was using a single, very diverse computer. The best part of it is that there is a common clipboard that allows me to copy pictures and text from any machine and paste it on any other machine, as if I was pasting from MS Word to PowerPoint on the same computer. (Regardless of which operating systems.) I could also see this being powerful for someone running a computer room at a data center.

Getting Synergy on your Computers

If you’ve read this far, I’m assuming that this sound kind of interesting to you. Well, enough sales, let’s see how to make it happen. Start off by downloading and installing the software on all of your machines. FYI – there are a few different variations of the Synergy software/project available, but they all play fairly well together, so just pick one that you’re happy with.

Windows: Synergy, Synergy-Plus, Synergy KM, Quick Synergy

Mac: Synergy, Synergy-Plus, Synergy KM, Quick Synergy

Linux: Go to your distribution’s Applications installer, then search for and install Synergy and Quick Synergy. (Synergy is the service and Quick Synergy is the GUI that let’s you configure the service.)

The steps differ slightly based on the specific software installed on each operating system, but the concepts are the same. I will include links for each application’s specific instructions below.

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”.

selecting the synergy server

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 sever client machine arrangement

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.)

configuring synergy client machine

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.

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January 22 2012

Sync Files on Multiple Computers Using DropBox

Always Have Your Important Files

Overview: Learn how to keep your files in sync across multiple computers with this Dropbox Tutorial.

sync files with dropboxDo you work on multiple computers during the day? Perhaps one at work and one at home? Maybe one is a Mac and another is a PC? Well there are a lot of files that you may create or update on one machine that you suddenly need on the other. Sure, you could use a USB drive, but that is very manual and error prone.
If you need to have a common collection of files that are synchronized and instantly available everywhere, you should use Dropbox – Secure online file sync
. DropBox is a service that allows you to sync files between multiple computers via their servers.

I have a few computers in my house: A windows desktop in my Office, Windows laptop downstairs, a Linux Laptop in our Bedroom (My Wife’s) and a new MacBook Pro where I do most of my writing now. I have some files on my old Windows desktop and laptop that I need on my MacBook and newly created files that I want back on my PCs. The other problem is that I need to work with certain Windows or Mac only apps at different times. This allows me to move all of the files that I need back and forth to the machine where I need to work in “real-time”.

If I do a Screencast on my PC, I just put it into my DropBox and upload it from my Mac when I’m ready. If I make something in iMovie on my Mac, I just drop it in and open it on my PC later.

What exactly is Dropbox?

This is how DropBox describes their service:

Dropbox is the easiest way to share and store your files online.
Works like you do
No complicated interface to learn. Dropbox runs in the background on your desktop.
Worry-free syncing
Sync your files automatically to your computers and the web.
It’s everywhere you are
Sign in and access your files from any browser or mobile device.
Easy sharing
Sharing files with your friends and family is just two clicks away.
View your photos in a gallery and share them easily with anyone.

How to Use DropBox

  1. The entire process is incredibly quick and simple.
  2. Create an Account on www.DropBox.com
  3. Download and Install the DropBox software on your computer.
  4. Select a location for your DropBox folder. (I use the Desktop)
  5. Move the desired files/folders into your DropBox.
  6. Wait for blue arrow icons to stop spinning and turn into a green check icon.
  7. Move any desired files/folders from your other computer(s) into your DropBox.
  8. Repeat steps 3 through 5 on all of your computers.

There is a free account which limits your DropBox capacity to 2 gigs. You can add more capacity incrementally with a paid account.

Sharing Files via DropBox:

You can share your DropBox with other DropBox users via your “shared” folder.

  1. Log in to your DropBox account on their site
  2. Click on the Share tab at the top of the page
  3. Give the share a name
  4. Enter the email addres(es) of the people you are sharing with
  5. Go back to your File Manager and drag files into the “share” folder
  6. The recipients will receive an email allowing them to access the the shared files
  7. You can delete the “share” when you want to stop sharing

This is very convenient if you’re working with a client or coordinating on a project with a colleague, client, or friend.

See How to Use DropBox in this Video


I use DropBox every day on both of my computers at home. This is about the simplest way to synchronize files between your computers, no matter which Operating System(s) you use.

Note: May not work behind some firewalls.

The past few articles have covered using some web/computer based productivity tools. Stay tuned for the next article where I show you how to extend these systems by using your phone and Dial2Do to get things done.

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December 27 2011

December 25 2011

Get Your New Computer From Box to Awesome in a Flash

Get that Holiday Gift Working Right Away

set up your new christmas computer

OVERVIEW: This article links to several resources that will help your new computer go from the box to maximum usefulness as fast as possible.

So You Got a New Computer for the Holidays, Now What?

Just getting a new computer is only half the battle. Once you get that thing out of the box, that’s where the real fun begins. Here are a few guides and resources that will help you do all of the painful things necessary for making a mass-produced box of electronics into your very own PERSONAL computer.

Configuring Your New Computer

After you get your new machine up an running, you will need to perform a few vital configuration steps. Whether it’s a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine, these resources will get you going.

Set Up and Get to Know Your New Windows, Mac, or Linux Computer – The folks over at LifeHacker.com have a bunch of great tips on setting up a new computer. The didn’t cut any corners either; Windows, Mac, and Linux are all thoroughly covered.

Download Squad Guide to Making Your New Holiday PC More Kick-Ass! - DownloadSquad.com has lots of great tips on making your new Windows computer better. A lot of the tips center around getting the garbage software that the manufacturers are paid to install gone and replacing it with much better options.

Setting Up Your New Mac: The First 25 Things You Need To Do – If you got a new Mac, the team at MacLife.com take you through a series of steps to make it a workhorse in no time at all.

The Best Free Software for Your New Computer

After you configure your new computer, you need to install the right software to help you get things done. Here are some of my favorite free applications for WIndows and Mac.

22 Most Useful Free Applications for your Windows PC – These are some of the best Windows applications at any price, but when you consider that they’re free, how can you go wrong.

26 Best Free Mac Applications – Macs come loaded with a decent set of software, but here are some additions to put you over the top.

100 of the Best (Useful) OpenSource Applications – UbuntuLinuxHelp.com has a massive list of useful Linux applications in every category imaginable.

A Computer is Not All Function, I Can Look Pretty Too

After you have your new computer set up to work like a team of mules, you may want to make it look like a sexy supermodel. Check out a few of these resources.

Five Best Wallpaper Sites – LifeHaker.com has some great places to go get beautiful wallpapers to put your own style on that new machine. I’m going there myself, as soon as I’m done with this article.

Don’t Forget Your Other New Gadgets

Even if you didn’t get a shiny new computer for the holidays, you might have another fancy gadget that you want to set up the right way. Here are a few guides to help you out.

5 Sites to Help You Set Up Your New Gadgets – ReadWriteWeb.com has a few resources you can use to help set up your new gadgets. They are mostly sites that have video tutorials or Q&A message boards that are helpful.

Setting Up Your New iPod: The First 25 Things You Need To Do – Those helpful guys at MacLife have another good set of tips for you to get your new iPod or iPhone running like a champ.

What are your New Computer Setup Secrets?

Dont’ forget to leave any good new computer setup tips in the comments below.

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