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Use a Single Mouse to Copy, Paste, Drag and Drop Files across Multiple PCs

It isn’t often that I get blown away by a free Microsoft release but the new Mouse Without Borders has done just that. This 1.8 MB freebie from a group at Microsoft called the Garage lets you do things with one mouse on as many as four different computers. It also lets you share the clipboard. Copy in one place, get it on up to four different PCs. The figure below shows some settings:

Mouse without borders

A video about the new utility is at the Microsoft download site. I have only tried it on a network with Windows 7 systems.

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by Luftmensch on 19. October 2011 - 20:45  (81751)

This caused huge problems on my setup -- desktop and laptop, both running Windows 7 (64-bit). When both computers were in use, the mouse simply froze on both, and there was no way to regain control from either. I have removed the programme, and will srteer well clear of it in future.

by Bunyip22 (not verified) on 17. September 2011 - 22:30  (79813)

Does anyone know where to find a set of basic instructions? The set-up is easy but there is no how-to-use guide to explain the features and functions. Clicking help takes you to a community-based support site where you can ask specific questions, but there appears to be no step-by-step guide to use for technodolts like me.

by spooz2 (not verified) on 17. September 2011 - 18:14  (79801)

I run a mix of XP machines and Win 7 64 bit.

Love that all machines are master/slave so that shutting down one machine does not shut down MWB.

Major problem, share clipboard not working. Cannot copy and paste between PC's.


by v.laurie on 17. September 2011 - 18:46  (79804)

I had no problem with sharing the clipboard but I am using only Windows 7 machines. I know that, for other things, networking XP and Win7 sometimes has glitches.

by Simoneyes (not verified) on 17. September 2011 - 0:27  (79747)

I have a multi-monitor setup with 5 OS X screens and 1 XP screen. Synergy did not play well with multiple monitors. Had to yank it unfortunately but I am very impressed that it will run on multiple OS's.
Just wish the monitor configuration screen would allow for more adjusting.

by Bunyip22 (not verified) on 16. September 2011 - 23:42  (79744)

I installed this on my Windows 7/64 desktop and then, following instructions, on a Vista/32 laptop. The laptop says it is connected but the program will no longer open on the desktop. What gives?

by Anonymous728282 (not verified) on 16. September 2011 - 18:04  (79730)

Erm. I always love a new MS tool, but I'm not sure why I installed this. Not a huge lot of use for computers in different rooms... :)

by mmseng on 16. September 2011 - 17:45  (79729)

I like how they present it as if it's a revolutionary new idea :P

I'll probably try it out though because ID has been giving me annoying troubles for quite a while now, and it doesn't seem like the dev is interested in it anymore.

by mmseng on 16. September 2011 - 19:10  (79732)

After using it for a short while my initial impression is that MWB has it's pros and cons compared to competitors. My setup is:
- Master: Win7 64-bit, dual monitors
- Slave 1: Server 2003 32-bit, single monitor
- Slave 2: Win7 64-bit, dual monitors
- Slave 3: Server 2008 64-bit, dual monitors

Arranged like so:
- - 1 - 2 - 2
M - M - 3 - 3

Performance seems equal to ID or better in some instances. For some reason ID has NEVER performed well when controlling my 2008 machine. The cursor always lags. But MWB doesn't seem to have a problem with it. Clipboarded file support has also always been a nightmare for me with ID, often causing the program to freak out and need to be restarted. The basic file clipboarding in MWB seems to work flawlessly out of the box.

Performance during screen transitions seems to be worse on all accounts though. I often get slight pauses at screen borders. But it's inconsistent causing me to sometimes over or undershoot my mouse movements. However this is preferable by far to the constant poor performance on my 2008 machine, which is the one I control the most.

Setup and monitor arrangement is annoying with MWB, but not disfunctional. Aside from only allowing up to 4 computers (luckily I only use 4), it presents the monitor arrangement in a single row, with a checkbox to tell it to interpret that one row as two rows, split in the middle. Not intuitive, but still works. Of course, with this you can't get the crazy-customizable monitor placement options that are facilitated by ID's drag and drop layout interface. And I've always longed for Synergy's way of customizing screen-edge ratios, because ID and MWB both assume your screens are 1:1 in size (and MWB apparently assumes your entire desktop is one monitor), which makes for awkward transitions.

MWB's security is always enabled, but always fairly weak. The security key must be between 8 and 16 characters, and, as far as I can tell, has to be the same between all computers. And who knows what encryption is actually being used, because they don't tell you, and there's no way to change it.

One cool thing about MWB is that essentially all computers are natively both masters and slaves, so if you've sync'd up the monitor arrangement on all the installations, then any mouse connected to any machine will control any other machine, as though it were the master. This is useful for me since I have my main mouse, and mice for all my other machines plugged in and parked under my monitors in case I need them. So if I were to, for example, restart my "master", or take it offline, I can still control any other machine with only one mouse.

All in all I like MWB so far, but only because I've long been disillusioned with ID's features, considering many of them are buggy or perform poorly. I've ended up getting used to having only basic mouse/keyboard transitions and a shared clipboard. So effectively with MWB I've lost nothing and gained better overall performance and file clipboarding.

P.S. Might just be my mind playing tricks on me, but it feels like at least my dual monitor slaves have exaggerated X-axis movement, almost as though MWB is compensating for the dual monitor setup by making the mouse move faster on the X-axis. If so, that's a pretty big oversight, but it hasn't caused me significant grief yet.

by mmseng on 20. September 2011 - 10:12  (79945)

After using MWB for a while I've come across two big things that will probably turn me off of it, and back to ID.
1) Not really a fault of MWB for not having macros, but I had forgotten that I commonly use the macro functionality in ID, for things like turning all my monitors off at once. Not a huge detriment losing it, but big enough to make me think twice.
2) As far as I can tell, MWB has no way of sending Ctrl+Alt+Del to other PCs. Maybe I'm missing it somehow. There's a checkbox to "Disable Ctrl+Alt+Del" whatever that means, and I'm not sure why I would want to. But this could be a deal breaker as I constantly need to Ctrl+Alt+Del the other individual PCs for various reasons.

by ID (not verified) on 16. September 2011 - 14:39  (79727)

Input Director is much better than both Synergy and Mouse wo Borders

by Marty-Mtl (not verified) on 16. September 2011 - 14:25  (79725)

Great one I have to say !! FYI : I tried it @ home. Setup is : WinXP Tower PC - Win7 laptop. Works flawlessly , no hesitation from screen to screen , reconnect at boot. program is started as a service.

by BGM (not verified) on 16. September 2011 - 14:17  (79722)

I tried this program, at Gizmo's suggestion. I am connecting Windows XP SP3 to Window 7 64bit. The Windows 7 computer was able to control the mouse on my XP just fine. But my XP computer could not control the mouse on the Windows 7 computer - the mouse seems to have gotten locked in the space of the taskbar! Strange? Anyway, it was easy to set up. I didn't even have to read the help file. Nice program! Too bad it doesn't work right for my XP.

by foo on 16. September 2011 - 12:08  (79713)

crank, did you just use 'oodles' ?


by crank on 12. September 2011 - 8:43  (79462)

Wow, beyond that not much needs saying, I wish I'd had this for years!!! Great find, thanks. This should save me oodles of time, maybe kilo-oodles.