First steps with the tool "Synergy"

I have a MacBook Pro for all my programs and tools - except development. For this, I have a midi tower with an i7 that can easily run many instances of Visual Studio and some VMs. 

Since RDPing to this machine for development is (even on my local network) a bit laggy, I decided to give the tool "Synergy" a try. Its like Mouse Without Borders - but with the advantage of working cross-operating system. It used to be free - but with 10$ also not expensive. The alternative ( is much easier to configure, but with 49$ also 5 times more expensive. 


Installation and Configuration

For the OS X part - which acts as a server - drop it to the Applications and configure the server. First: configure the Screens:

In the center is my MacBook Pro and right of it is the Windows machine. 

In the center is my MacBook Pro and right of it is the Windows machine. 

This is the way of configuring Clients (machines). E.g. my MacBook Pro has its own screen and the Cinema Display but is shown as one, since its about computers, not screens. If you do not do this, your mouse is still trapped inside your host machine :)

For the Windows part, just install the MSI, configure the tool as "Client" and point it to the correct server (in my case the OS X machine). There is not much more you can configure (except Encryption). Also, make sure you autostart this program. 


Issues and how they can be solved

0. Unrecognised client name "machinename", check server config

You need to configure all allowed clients aka Screens - see above.

1. Client is connected but mouse is still trapped on server screen

In my case, I didn't had any client configured. First, you need to define "Screens" at the server config (see above).

2. Client can't connect to server

Check, if you can reach the server, if a firewall is blocking the required port or if you have different settings for Encryption on Client and Server.

3. Mouse clicks wont bring windows to front

This happened to me at the Windows machine and was the result of the Hot-fix KB3013455 of Microsoft (see this huge discussion on the Synergy forum). But uninstalling is not an option for me. 

What worked for me was two things:

  • install the latest nightly build (in my case that was a nightly build of synergy-1.7.1-master). See the current nightly built list here. But I expect that this code will be in some stable version soon (at first, i accidentally downloaded the 32-bit client, which was NOT helping. I have a 64-bit Windows, and the 64-bit client now works)
  • open "services.msc", look for the "Synergy" service, go to the "Log On" Tab and enable "Allow service to interact with desktop"

After this, restart Synergy on the Client AND on the Server. 

4. Send ctrl-alt-del to the Windows machine

This one is still open. For logging in, I still need a local keyboard. The usual ctrl-alt-fn-del does not work in this case :( The only way I have found that works is the on-screen-keyboard and pressing ctrl-alt-del there... UGLY! One more thing: for me, it works only when I press alt gr-ctrl-del, not the alt-key.

5. Laggy mouse when UAC comes into play

When you need to click that "Yes" button of the UAC, the mouse position is resetted to the center of the host and you need to move it back to the client. Also, after you have left the UAC the same happens again ... and it always takes around 2 seconds until you can move the mouse to the client screen. ARGH.


Windows only?

If you are in a pure Microsoft environment, you can also give Mouse Without Borders from the Microsoft Garage a try. 

Posted on March 17, 2015 and filed under development, productivity.