How to share keyboard/trackball/display between two MacBook Pros?

I’m getting a second MacBook Pro and anticipate using both as my primary computers for a while. What’s the best way that they can share keyboard, display and trackball?

The display is an ancient 2010 Apple Cinema display.

The keyboard and trackball are USB-A. I just like wired keyboard and trackball connections. But I’m OK going with Bluetooth if I need to.

Options I can think of:

  • Just forget it. Continue using my current computer as the main, and swivel-chair to the other one when needed. Share documents over the local network.
  • Use Screens or something like it to remote-access into the second MBP when needed. They’ll be in the same room but still this might not be a bad option. This is basically an extension of the previous option; I still have one computer hooked up to the external keyboard/trackball/display and the other not.
  • KVM hardware switch. This will get me into dongletown I’m sure. I’m OK with that. Here’s one for $189. That’s a little more than I want to spend. I wonder if I can use it for an iPad Pro when I’m done with the two-MBP setup?
  • Something else?

Surely I am not the only person in this situation in this community of Mac power users. What’s your solution?

LG monitors have Dual Controller capability, which lets you use two computer with the same monitor, mouse and keyboard. You can dedicate half of the monitor to each computer and input will switch to the appropriate computer as you move the mouse. Or switch the whole display between.
Haven’t used it on mine, but it sounds ideal.

I tried the LG Dual Controller capability and it does not give good response. It is essentially trying to use software to emulate a hardware KVM so naturally there is lag in the response. I’d think a hardware KVM will be the one you need to look for but I am not use if there is any that also supports USB-C video.

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Logitech makes Bluetooth multi-device keyboards (this, for example), and trackballs (MX Ergo, for example) that can switch between devices.

Either drawbacks or benefits, depending on the point of view: they are Bluetooth, wireless, and require a mechanical action to switch between devices.

I’ve looked for KVMs before and didn’t have patience to sort the somewhat bewildering array of options.


+1 on Logitech keyboard and mouse. Multi devices usually mean up to 3 separate devices

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I used synergy when it used to be free and it looks like it’s paid now.

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I used Synergy about 12-13 years ago. That was the last time I had a dual-computer configuration – Mac and ThinkPad. As I recall, that’s a two-display solution – you’re moving the mouse pointer between two computers’ displays. It’s definitely an option.

I thought of a goofy solution last night that might serve my purposes: Be sure the keyboard and trackball are plugged in to the display, rather than the MacBook Pros. Plug everything else directly into the MBPs.

Then, when I want to switch devices, simply unplug the display from one laptop and plug it into the other. Voila!

This is completely bonkers and yet it might work.

But I’m still open to ideas, particularly those that are less bonkers. (But ideas that are even more bonkers can be entertaining so I don’t want to exclude those.)

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Hoping not to spend so much – yet. I do have a new monitor in my future but I want to get a couple of other things done first.

In other news, I anticipate running DevonThink on both MBPs, my iPad and iPhone. The thought of this makes me nervous.

I think I’d just go for your 2nd option of use the Mac’s Screen Sharing app to Remote Desktop to one of them. You don’t have to faff switching cables over at all, don’t have to move to a different working position to use the other computer. I think that would be the cheapest & easiest.

OR - You could get really inventive, disk image your old machine then run it as a VM on the new one? :wink:
(I wouldn’t actually do this, I sounds like way too much bother when you could just Screen Share to the existing one…)

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This is my current solution too. My keyboard and mouse is connected to the LG display. Then I connect the USB-C cable to the MacBook and voila - I get displa, keyboard and mouse (and charging of the laptop), all in a single cable solution. It’s a slight inconvenience as compare to pressing a button, but it sure is a very clean desk solution as all you need is one cable.

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I have (and do with the ipad) tend to favour the screens approach. Currently working from home and sharing a desk and monitor between my work laptop and MacMini. Frequently I end up typing into the wrong computer.

With Screens I’m intentionally looking at the right screen.

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This is the route I went. 2018 Mac Mini and 2012 Mac Mini, 2012 being the “old computer” and 2018 being the current workstation. Same desk and everything, running to the same network hub (so the connection is wired vs. wireless), using plain old Screen Sharing.

Works great, and lets me use a Magic Trackpad without having to figure out switching.

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why? this all seems like a lot of work and expense - I’d consider whether you really need a long transition period or you can just switch machines once and for all…

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Synergy would be my call.


I’ve never used Synergy, but several of my coworkers over the years have, and they have always sworn by it. In your situation, that’s the first thing that came to my mind and probably what I’d go with. The price looks reasonable for what it does.

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Now it can be told: I got a job. First day is today. The second machine is a corporate MBP, the first is my personal MBP. I’ve never had two Macs before.


Congratulations! That’s great news!

Congratulations and good luck in your new role! :slight_smile:

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