Running two computers simultaneously is now more of a necessity than a luxury. You need a PC to perform background tasks while you browse or do other tasks with each other. The problem is that two monitors take up too much space in your workspace. The way to solve this problem is to use two computers with one monitor.
You don't have to be a computer programmer to connect multiple computers to a single monitor. Keep reading and you will find which solution will work for you.
How to use 2 computers on one monitor
There are several options for connecting two computers with a single monitor described below, including hardware and software solutions.
The first option is a keyboard, video, and mouse (KVM) switch. This hardware is commonly used to connect to computers or other devices. The KVM allows you to switch control between devices. You can buy KVM switches online or at traditional electronics stores.
To install the switch, do the following:
- Turn off any computers or monitors you will be connecting.
- Connect an AC adapter to your KVM switch.
- Connect the video cables from the monitor to the video port of the KVM switch.
- Turn on the monitor.
- Connect your mouse and keyboard to the PS2 or Switch USB ports.
Now that you are ready to configure the target port, continue with the KVM switch installation as follows:
- Modify the KVM to focus on port 1.
- Connect the PC1 video cables to the switch.
- Connect PS2 or USB cables from PC1 to PC1 PS2 or USB ports on the KVM.
- Turn on PC1 to load the computer's operating system.
Check if the keyboard and mouse can control the PC1 connection—repeat steps 4 through 9 to connect the second computer to the KVM switch.
How to Choose a KVM Switch
KVM switches are convenient because you don't have to constantly unplug and replug your devices. Their price varies between $20 and $100 depending on your needs. However, the quality of the switch you buy differs in each price range. Look for a reputable KVM brand to get the best results when shopping.
Consider the following when choosing a KVM switch:
- The number of people who will access the computers at the same time. This will determine how many ports you will need.
- Your video media needs like HDMI, VGA, etc.
- Video resolution requirements such as 4k UHD.
- KVM switch control method, such as control buttons versus remote switching.
Make sure you have enough space for both machines. Your computers should be close together because KVM cables are quite short.
Connect two computers with one monitor using one app
Maybe making cable connections is not in your wheelhouse. There are many software answers to solve your problem. KVMs allow you to control and share your devices through a wired connection. Likewise, you can find apps that connect two or more computers without the hardware.
The types of software applications available include:
- Applications that operate on client-server models
- Open source machine virtualization and emulation applications
- System Manager container apps
The app you choose will be based on your connection needs. However, the application software is cloud-based; therefore, all you need is an internet connection to control multiple computers.
Free remote desktop programs
There is another option for connecting multiple computers to a single monitor. Remote desktops are a program that can control one or more computers from the primary device. There are unlimited and completely free remote desktop downloads on the internet.
The main advantage of using a remote desktop program is that the devices do not need to be in the same place. You can even share two computers from different countries. However, some users complain about a few drawbacks.
Here are some of the common issues with free remote desktop programs:
- Poor connection quality causes delays
- Screen is blurry with pixelated images
- Physical proximity needed to make connections
This solution is preferable for controlling devices far from each other. It works best with activities where the screen isn't constantly moving, like word processing. If your project requires heavy graphics, it's probably best to choose another solution.
Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection
Microsoft offers free remote desktop for Windows and iOS. This tool allows you to control and access multiple computers simultaneously. Remember that both the primary and remote computers must be powered on and configured for the connection to work.
Follow these steps to set up Microsoft Remote Desktop on a Mac:
- Download Microsoft Remote Desktop from the Mac Apple Store.
- Tap "System Preferences" in the Apple menu to allow your PC to accept remote settings.
- Select "Share".
- Check the "Remote connection" box.
- Click "Allow full disk access for remote users".
- Choose "All users" or add users under "Only these users".
- Add a remote source or Remote Desktop connection.
Make sure the remote computer's sleep settings are set to "Never". You cannot connect to a sleeping or hibernating PC.
Here are the steps to configure Microsoft Remote Desktop on a Windows PC:
- Download and install Microsoft Remote Desktop.
- Open "Settings".
- Select “System” then choose “Remote Desktop”.
- Tap "Select users who can remotely access this PC" and add users.
You can also use the Remote Desktop Setup Wizard. It will guide you through the steps to quickly set up remote desktop on your computer.
Connect two computers with one monitor
Most likely, both of your computers are running on the monitor you already have. Two or more computers can be used with one standard or ultrawide monitor. However, you must follow different steps with each type of monitor.
The majority of regular monitors today have more than multiple input ports. Here's how to use them to connect to multiple computers:
- Connect a cable to the VGA or other port on the monitor.
- Connect a second cable to a different port (DVA, HDMI, etc.).
- Access the internal input selection settings on the monitor.
- Select the computer you want to use.
Unfortunately, you will have to change the input settings each time you change computers. It's not a problem if you don't have to change computers often. Additionally, you will need a keyboard and mouse for each computer.
You can control multiple computers on sophisticated ultra-wide monitors without cables or KVMs. To use two computers with an ultrawide monitor:
- Go to monitor settings.
- Follow the instructions for your monitor model to configure the computer display.
New ultra-wide models come out very frequently under the same brand. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for your exact model to avoid damaging your monitor.
Double productivity and fun
Don't worry about having enough space for two monitors, whether you live in a small apartment or a mansion. You can run two computers on a single monitor without having to use tons of bulky equipment. Enjoy two-for-one efficiency for work or play.
How many computers do you use with your monitor? Let us know which method you used to set up multiple computers if you are using two or more. Leave your comments in the box below.