Increase Your Productivity by Sharing Your Mouse and Keyboard with Multiple PCs/Laptops


Synergy is a proprietary tool that allows several computers to share a single keyboard and mouse set. This enables you to connect numerous PCs to separate monitors, all of which can be worked on using a single set of peripherals. Synergy operates by running a server on the computer to which the keyboard and mouse are attached. This server then talks to clients that are installed on the other PCs through SSH.

Barrier is a clone of the open-source Synergy 1.9 component that attempts to focus on basic Synergy capabilities prior to the release of 2.0. Leaving aside concerns about the license they must employ, it accomplishes precisely what is expected from Synergy: it allows users to use a single keyboard and mouse with all of the computers at the user’s desk.

Installing Barrier

Barrier may be installed on Windows and macOS by downloading and running the binary installer. Download the pre-packaged binaries and extract them to the proper directory on FreeBSD; the developers are working to put Barrier in the ports tree. GNU/Linux users will need to reference the documentation for their own distribution for installation instructions.

To get Barrier to work, Windows users may need to uninstall Microsoft’s Mouse without Borders. If any of the steps mentioned below fail, check to see if it is installed and uninstall it.

Begin by installing it on your server – the system that is physically connected to the keyboard and mouse. Once installed, launch it and you’ll be welcomed by the first-time configuration setup.

Barrier Configuration and Usage

When configuring your server, you will be given a number of options. Because of Barrier’s very relaxed setup and well-named settings, everything you see should be self-explanatory. Although few, if any, of these will need to be changed, you should go through them all to see if there are any options you wish to experiment with. Barrier can be reconfigured at any moment by clicking the “Configure Server” button.

After you’ve installed Barrier on your server, it’s time to install it on your clients. This time, there isn’t much to configure. Simply inform Barrier that this system will be a client, and you’re done. Barrier can arrange itself to use a server it discovers on your network. Otherwise, enter the IP address of the server into the UI, as seen in the image below.

Setting Up Barrier Server with the Clients

Return to the server setup page using the button on the server’s Barrier user interface once you’ve installed Barrier on both the server and all of the clients. Barrier’s layout can be configured under the “Screens and links” section. You should see a grid of squares, 5 columns by 3 rows, with the name of your server shown on a monitor in the centre square.

If you haven’t already, launch Barrier on the server and all of your clients by clicking the “Start” button in each Barrier instance. Barrier is ready to utilize if you have monitors for each of your clients. Your clients should be configured automatically. Drag the monitors about the grid until they’re all arranged logically, then save your setup.

If you don’t have displays for all of your clients, drag monitors onto the grid using the monitor picture in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll need one for each client, and you should rename them from “Unnamed” to the customer’s name. Drag the monitors and apply the above-mentioned setup.

Depending on how many clients you have and how they are organized, you should have a “Screens and links” grid similar to the one below.


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