Sharing two monitors with a one-monitor switcher?
December 19, 2006 5:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to add a second monitor to a PC/Mac hardware-sharing scenario.

I have in my possession this piece of hardware (not an endorsement of the site or product), which allows me to share keyboard/mouse/ONE monitor between a Mac and PC. I have two monitors. Do I need to pick up a "two-monitor" version of the product (undesirable, more $$$ than I wanted to spend) or can I pick up a simple VGA switcher to handle the second screen?
posted by nevercalm to Technology (6 answers total)
I use a cheap keyboard/mouse/monitor switcher (I know there is a concise name for these devices, but can't think of it) I bought it at Fry's for $30 for exactly this purpose. I alternate between using my second monitor for my second PC, and using it to extend the desktop on my primary PC.
posted by Manjusri at 5:28 PM on December 19, 2006

I suspect that you won't have any luck using that piece of hardware to do dual-monitor switching.

An alternate way to go would be to plug one monitor into the mac, and the other into the PC. Then install Synergy onto both computers. It'll allow you to forgo the hardware and use both computers with one keyboard and mouse, plugged into whichever computer you prefer.

To be clear, this allows you to have a two-monitor setup, with one monitor mac and the other PC. It won't give you a true dual-monitor setup.
posted by chrisamiller at 5:30 PM on December 19, 2006

If either of your two monitors has both DVI and VGA (but not done with a single port and two different adapter cables), you should be able find some way to hook things up so that you effectively use the switching box built into that monitor without needing to purchase any extra equipment.
posted by krisjohn at 8:10 PM on December 19, 2006

Two snaps for Synergy: I installed it recently on my two macs, and it works wonderfully.
posted by migurski at 10:34 PM on December 19, 2006

Third Synergy, if you don't want to spend money on new hardware. I don't think you're going to be able to do anything with your existing KVM, since it (presumably) has only one video output. I think what krisjohn is describing is hooking two computers up to a single monitor (one via D-Sub and one via DVI), but I'm not sure.
posted by Spike at 2:08 AM on December 20, 2006

Before I simplified my computer setup, I had the sort of system you are describing: dual monitors/single keyboard and mouse for separate Mac and PC boxes. I also did not want to pay the $$$ for a dedicated dual monitor KVM switch, so I used a VGA KVM switch similar to the one you have, plus a separate DVI KVM switch for my main monitor. It was a complicated setup but it worked OK, although I had some USB flakiness on the the Windows side that I was never able to isolate -- the mouse would unmount/remount itself at odd times, with no warning.

Now I use an Intel Mac and Boot Camp and am MUCH happier. If there's anyway you can switch to an Intel Mac and use either Boot Camp or Parallels, I would strongly suggest doing so,. It will make your life easier and your environment will be much more stable.
posted by mosk at 11:28 AM on December 20, 2006

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