I recently bought a Mac Mini because I’ve wanted a Mac ever since Apple released Mac OS X and I’ve wanted one even more ever since they moved to the Intel platform. The Mini is an inexpensive way to get a Mac so I finally took the plunge (the $100 rebate from Micro Center certainly helped).

I absolutely love the Mini and if I had my way I’d use it all the time, at work and at home. One thing I’d love to be able to do, especially at work, is use dual monitors with my Mini. Unfortunately, the Mini has only a single DVI video port, so without a special hardware accessory I cannot use dual monitors with my Mini.

However, while searching for a solution, I came across Synergy, an open source client/server application that enables computers with different operating systems to share a keyboard and a mouse and even the clipboard. It works across Windows, OS X and *nix operating systems.

So tonight I followed directions I read on the Lifehacker site and in under one hour I was using the keyboard and mouse of my Vaio laptop on my Mac Mini! I could move the house cursor from my PC right over to the Mac, at which point the keyboard on my laptop was redirected to the Mac as well.  This happened as seamlessly as when using a typical single-PC setup with dual monitors.  I couldn’t believe it.  I could even copy and paste text from the Mac to the PC and vice-versa!

That was pretty cool, but at home it’s not terribly useful for me — I’d much rather use the keyboard and mouse attached to my Mini to do things on my Vaio laptop since that would enable me to sit straight at my desk. So I reconfigured it to make the Mini the server and the PC the client and it works beautifully! The only thing I had to do was use the IP of the Mini rather than the hostname when configuring the Windows machine to connect to the Mac Synergy server.

This is an absolutely fantastic way to use both a Mac and a PC at the same time in cases where that is, for whatever reason, either desired or necessary.

References:

http://lifehacker.com/software/productivity/how-to-turn-your-dualmonitor-pc-into-a-dual-macpc-system-106123.php
http://lifehacker.com/photogallery/set-up-synergy-on-mac/1760558
http://lifehacker.com/software//hack-attack-control-multiple-computers-with-one-keyboard-and-mouse-254648.php#synergy-client