Remote mouse & keyboard applications?
April 22, 2011 4:21 PM   Subscribe

I need help finding a remote keyboard and mouse app - for one computer to control another, not for a smartphone to control a computer. More inside.

I'd like to be able to use a laptop (any laptop, Mac or PC) to control our Media PC.

Remote Desktop doesn't work, because the display connected to the media PC heads to the login screen when I connect via remote desktop.

You say: "How about a wireless keyboard and mouse?" I say "No thanks, I already have one - but it would really make my day to switch between my laptop's input devices controlling the laptop and my media PC, thanks!"

Basically, I'm looking for an application that allows my laptop's keyboard and mouse to control another computer - just like all the remote keyboard & mouse apps for smartphones, but not for a smartphone. The two computers can connect via network or bluetooth.

Of course, free or inexpensive apps are best for my budget, but I'll take any solution.
posted by terpia to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Synergy. Free, crossplatform, dows what you need.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:24 PM on April 22, 2011

posted by jenkinsEar at 4:24 PM on April 22, 2011

Second Synergy...
posted by stratastar at 4:45 PM on April 22, 2011

nth Synergy.
posted by pompomtom at 4:47 PM on April 22, 2011

Hot damn, Synergy looks like the one!

Thanks all!
posted by terpia at 4:54 PM on April 22, 2011

Unless I've misread your request, you don't need to install additional software and can just use remote desktop - but you need to apply the concurrent users patch.

I frequently use it to log into the HTPC to update software whilst the GF is watching the TV. She doesn't notice that anything is happening.
posted by mr_silver at 1:28 AM on April 23, 2011

Although you already got a good answer, let me just say that any VNC app will work perfectly for this. It's basically exactly what you asked for. In fact, most of those smartphone remote control apps are basically VNC services. TightVNC is a free Win 7 compatible option if that's a factor. The VNC protocol is cross platform so you can use virtually any VNC app on any platform to get a remote desktop.
posted by sprocket87 at 11:10 AM on April 23, 2011

mr silver and sprocket87,

Remote Desktop and VNC programs don't seem to be what I'm after in this case.

Here's a liist that's perhaps a little more clear:
  • There is only one user account on this PC.
  • Whenever using Remote Desktop or VNC and connecting to the single user account, the local display goes to the login window - even with the concurrent users patch.
  • The single user account and the display on the media PC must both be used - it does no good for me to use another account or to bring the remote screen local.

posted by terpia at 12:06 PM on April 23, 2011

Assuming you're running Windows 7 then Remote Desktop and the concurrent users patch will do exactly what you want.

I have the same setup as you at home, one HTPC with only one account and the GF would never approve of a solution that means her watching of TV is interrupted with me logging in remotely. Using something like VNC doesn't work because, as you rightly pointed out, you take control of the main TV screen.

The link I gave you was for Windows 7 SP1. If you're not running that, then you'll need to Google around a bit. I promise it works, I logged into my computer last weekend to update Flash whilst the GF watched "Glee". She didn't even notice.

(See also the forums over at, they're big into HTPC stuff and remote maintenance)
posted by mr_silver at 1:25 PM on April 23, 2011

Have you actually tried VNC (different from RDP)? It definitely does not (or should not) behave as you're describing. VNC connections do not alter the host user session.
posted by sprocket87 at 9:24 PM on April 23, 2011

@sprocket87: That's not the default out of the box settings for VNC which definitely takes over the hosts screen. My parents have often sat at the screen 120 miles away and watched me fix something. The goal here is for them not to notice anything and be able to carry on using the pc without noticing I'm logged on.

What setting did you change in VNC to get it not to do that?
posted by mr_silver at 12:39 AM on April 24, 2011

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