Q: Is there a free solution to share my mouse between multiple computers and allow easy copying of data?

A: Microsoft offers "Mouse without Borders" from its "Garage" program, which refers both to Building 4 at the Redmond campus, (which has a cool layout fostering collaboration and creative thinking)  and to Microsoft's fundamental premise of encouraging work on new solutions outside of employees' day jobs.

Mouse without Borders is available at the TechNet blog.  It lets up to four machines share a single mouse. You drag files between them and share a common clipboard by installing a small 1MB program. Although it's called Mouse without Borders, it also shares your keyboard and you can even lock all your machines at once with a simple keyboard shortcut, WindowsKey+L, as on a single machine.

The installation is simple, with no questions asked, and after installation, you are prompted if another machine has already been configured with Mouse without Borders. If this is the first machine, you click No, and a screen is displayed with a security code used to protection communications between machines and to stop someone from taking over your machine and your computer's name (see the screenshot below). Keep this screen open or write down the security code.


Now install Mouse without Borders on another machine, but this time, at the prompt, indicate that the software has already been installed on another machine. You are then prompted to enter the security code and original computer's name. Enter this information, then click the LINK button. A progress screen is displayed, and you will be connected to your other machine. If a connection can't be made, you can try the IP address of the original machine, which you will need if the machines are in different domains (see screenshot below).


Once connected, a configuration screen is shown, letting you arrange the multiple computers and set options (see screenshot below).


You can now use your keyboard and mouse across computers. Note that each computer can have multiple displays: In my two-computer configuration, my main computer has three screens, and all work fine.

You can close the Mouse without Borders dialog box, and the process stays running in the system tray, which allows access back to configuration and controlling the various machines. The machine where the mouse is currently active will respond to shortcut key combinations, such as WinKey+R to run an application.

To see all of the FAQs by John Savill, click here.

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