Sunday, April 10, 2011

Synergy

A friend emailed us a while back, with this query “I want to have an extended screen for my desktop. From the laptop we can have an extended screen... But I want to make my laptop screen as an extended screen for my Desktop PC... Is there any possible way?” In attempting to find an answer to our friend’s query, we came across this software called Synergy. Synergy allows you to share your workspace by sharing a keyboard and mouse between 2 or more computers, across a local network. We've got the basic details on how to get this setup and working past the "Read More" button down below.

First of all let us explain the concept of extending your screen. If you would have noticed almost all laptops have a display port allowing you to attach an external display such as a monitor or projector. Windows provides us the option to duplicate what you see on your monitor or give you extra space to work. For example you could watch a movie on one of your displays and edit a document at the same time on the other. Now we face a problem when we try to use a laptop’s screen as an extended one. This is because the laptop does not have a input port for its screen. The only viable option is to control the laptops screen with the neighbouring computer’s keyboard and mouse thereby improving multitasking. So if you want to reclaim the screen of your old laptop/ computer or even if you make extended use of your new one follow the steps below.

  1. First, download the Synergy application from this link.
  2. Next, install it on both the computers you want to use. This software uses a LAN (Wireless or Wired) for functioning so make sure both computers are connected to your switch/router/gateway.
  3. Configuring the Server. Once you run the application, you will encounter a screen as shown in the image at the beginning of this article. Choose the second radio button which says “Configure Interactively”. A screen will popup as shown below.

    Synergy - Server Configuration

    The input provided at this stage will help the software understand the position of the screens. Now drag the monitor on the right side of the screen onto the block which best makes sense. If your monitor of your second computer is on the right then drag it onto the block right next to the server. Double click the new computer and provide your second computer’s name, in this case “home” and click ok. Then click the start button to start the service.
  4. Configuring the client. Run the application on the second computer. You will encounter a screen similar to the one you saw earlier. Choose the Client option and click Start.

Synergy - Client Configuration

The next time you move your mouse right out of the screen of your Desktop PC (or whichever computer you configured as the “server”), you will find that control will shift to the screen of the Notebook PC (or the computer configured as the “client”). The controls of the keyboard shifts to the computer where the mouse pointer is situated.

The biggest purpose and use of this software would be for folks who need to keep switching between two computers. This software allows you to use one keyboard and mouse with two computers, but both units need to be powered on and the Synergy software must be running. That network connectivity we mentioned before is a necessity, which may deter the folks who don’t have a comfortable home router/Wireless network setup. However, after testing this software for more than a week we found that it was really useful and worked well. We are not intending to say that this software can replace the extended desktop feature of Windows but Synergy certainly does what its name suggests which is “The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.” We found that this software works well in combining the usefulness of two separate computers.

We thank Kaveendran B for his contribution towards the creation of this article.

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