How to Connect Two or More Computers to One Monitor
There was a time not too long ago that it was rare for a household to have even one computer. The idea that each person would have a computer or laptops would have seemed laughable in the early days of the PC revolution. Now, most people are armed with multiple powerful computing devices, both on their person and when at home.
If you have multiple computers in your home, do you really need to move between them to use them all? The answer is of course no. You can use a single mouse, keyboard, and monitor setup to control several computers.
The exact solution for you will depend on the configuration of your computers. Are they side-by-side on the same desk? Are they in different rooms? The various methods of controlling multiple computers from a single set of monitors and controls below cater for virtually any mix of multi-computer setups.
You may also like to read about: 5 Efficient Ways to Get Sound From Monitor Without Speakers.
Connect Two Computers to One Monitor with Multiple Ports
The first answer comes from modern computer monitors themselves. Most good monitors now have multiple inputs, just as televisions do. Two HDMI or Displayport sockets are fairly common, but you may also have a monitor with a mix of VGA, DVI, and HDMI. It all depends on age and model.
In order to switch between the two different computers with one monitor, you need to access the internal menu of the monitor and change the input.
The main advantage of this approach is that you can probably use the monitor you already have. The main downside is that you still need two sets of input devices or will have to manually plug your keyboard and mouse into the other computer each time you switch. For a computer you only occasionally need to take control of, such as a home media server, this is a quick and affordable approach, but it’s not ideal for other situations.
Certain ultrawide screens can display the input from two different computers at the same time, in a split-screen configuration. Which obviously has its own uses, but unless you already own an ultrawide monitor, it’s not worth going out and buying one for this reason alone.
How does KVM look like?
KVM switches –
A KVM switch (with KVM being an abbreviation for “keyboard, video and mouse”) is a hardware device that allows a user to control multiple computers from one or more sets of keyboards, video monitors, and mice. Although multiple computers are connected to the KVM, typically a smaller number of computers can be controlled at any given time. Modern devices have also added the ability to share other peripherals like USB devices and audio.
Uses of KVM switches – A KVM Switch is a hardware device, used in data centers, that allows the control of multiple computers from a single keyboard, monitor, and mouse (KVM). This switch then allows data center personnel to connect to any server in the rack. A common example of home use is to enable the use of the full-size keyboard, mouse, and monitor of the home PC with a portable device such as a laptop, tablet PC or PDA, or a computer using a different operating system.
Hardware KVM Switches
“KVM” is short for Keyboard, Video, and Mouse. A hardware KVM switch is a physical device that can accept connections from multiple computers and then output to a single monitor while accepting input from a single keyboard and mouse.
The big advantage of a KVM switch is that they are straightforward to use. Just plug everything in and use each computer with no performance penalty or potential for software glitches causing downtime.
There are plenty of downsides too, however. For one thing, all of your computers need to be physically connected to the KVM switch. All display and USB cables have length limits before you need to start buying a signal repeater or simply live with all of your hardware within a few feet of you.
KVM switches can also be slow to actually make the switch, depending on the specific hardware you are using. It might take a few seconds to change between computers and if you have to do so constantly that can be a bit of a pain.
Software KVM Switches
How to connect two or more computers to one monitor without KVM
Software KVM switches are actually not the equivalent of hardware KVM switches in most cases. What you actually get is a software solution that lets you use multiple computers with the primary computer’s mouse and keyboard.
Each computer still needs to have its own monitor and be in the room with you. Examples of these software packages include:
- Synergy (one-time purchase) – Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.
- ShareMouse (free for personal use) – Mouse and Keyboard Sharing to control a