If you have multiple Macs that you want to use in the same raw space, managing multiple keyboards, mice, and other pointing devices can be a pain. What if you could use a single set of input devices to control multiple Macs and sometimes iPads?
The latest updates to Apple’s operating system provide Universal Control for Macs and iPads, a solution for sharing keyboards and pointers in many situations. Where Universal Control doesn’t fit, try a hardware or software KVM, which can share a set of input devices with multiple computers.
With Universal Control, you can use a keyboard, mouse, or trackpad on multiple devices that are signed in to the same iCloud account and that are close to each other. MacOS Monterey version 12.4 or later and iPadOS 15.4 or later are required. You must also have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on.
We’ve written elsewhere about setting up Universal Control, and Apple provides this detailed installation guide with minimum hardware model requirements for Macs and iPads.
Long ago called KVM for “keyboard, video, and mouse,” a KVM switch was an important tool for system and network administrators to avoid the clutter of oversized CRTs and keyboards in server rooms and elsewhere. Later, KVMs became useful for those who wanted to dock a laptop alongside a desktop setup and use a larger monitor, full-sized keyboard and mouse, trackball, or trackpad.
Those KVMs had to include a VGA connection, multiple serial and audio connections, and sometimes USB 1.1.
These days, a KVM can be much simpler: you only need USB Type-A ports, and you can use USB-C adapters to connect to your Macs if needed. This UGreen switch for two computers with a suggested retail price of $19.99 could suit many people.
If you just want to switch between Macs, a virtual KVM might be the way with the least amount of effort. Symless Synergy is just $29 for three computers, with those licenses for macOS, Linux, Raspberry Pi, and Windows — you can mix and match installations.
Synergy works the same way as Universal Control (before Universal Control existed), allowing you to activate movement between devices by sliding your cursor from the edge of one screen to another.
This Mac 911 article answers a question from Macworld reader Vish.
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