Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Synergize Your Machines

Photo Mar 01, 1 12 54 PM

This past week I discovered a simple program that has revolutionized the computer setup in my office at Bob's Market. It is a simple program called Synergy that allows you to share the same mouse and keyboard between multiple PCs, Macs, Linux systems, or any combination of these. It combines the best features of a KVM switch and remote desktop into an easy-to-use piece of software.

The process of installing this system is quite simple. All you need to do for PCs is download the Synergy software on the machines you want to link, designate the primary machine as the "server" and the others as "clients", and then arrange the relative monitor positions on the setup screen to match their physical positions. Including the download times, this took around ten minutes for me to get it up and running.

This software has some amazing features! The selling feature for me is the ability to simply move my mouse between the monitors of the two systems as if it were a multiple monitor setup on a single machine. Another key feature for seamless switching between the two systems is it's ability to share a single clipboard meaning you can copy/cut on one machine and paste that data on the other machine. The software also allows you to synchronize the screen savers so you're not interrupt if one machine is left idle while your still working on the other. There are also a host of other feature like hotkeys, a delay before switching machines, and the ability to set "dead corners" (which can be useful for both the "start menu" and the "show desktop" corners on Win 7).

There are a few downsides to Synergy though. If you have your system password protected at startup (which you should) you'll still need at least a keyboard attached to the client computers. Also, I've had some minor glitches when bring the system online / offline. Synergy also requires a LAN connection via Ethernet (sorry if you have a WiFi setup like I have in my office at home).

Overall, I am very pleased with the performance of Synergy. It offers a truely seamless link between the two machines in my office. I've gone from essentially switching back and forth between two machines to using them simultaneously. Did I mention the best part? Synergy is FREE! Visit the Synergy website to check it out for yourself.

Photo Mar 01, 2 36 41 PM

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