Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I work out of my house where I have two computers: a mid-2010 Macbook Pro (for my day job) and a mid-2010 iMac (personal). During the workday, my iMac acts as a second display for my Macbook Pro via Mini Displayport.

Currently, I use a USB keyboard and mouse for my work computer and a Bluetooth keyboard and Magic Mouse + Magic Trackpad for use with my personal computer. I'd like to get rid of the wired keyboard and mouse and just use the Bluetooth stuff for both machines (but never simultaneously).

Is it possible to easily share the single set of input devices without having to repeatedly break and reestablish the pairing of the input device to the correct computer? I'm not opposed to buying some type of additional hardware to accomplish this, provided it's not prohibitively costly or cumbersome to use or configure.

It's not clear to me how I would tell the MacBook Pro to leave the devices alone so the iMac can have them for the evening. I want to avoid de-pairing and re-pairing the devices each time I want to shift them back or forth.

Basically is there software or hardware that works as a Bluetooth KVM switch?

share|improve this question
    
No, you'll have to break the relationship each time. This is because the iMac will expect the keyboard to work on it at all times. –  user479 Aug 25 '11 at 22:07
    
What happens if you turn off the MacBook Pro bluetooth when it's time for the iMac to turn on it's bluetooth? Both computers should be happy to keep their individual pairings and a power cycle is all the mouse/keyboard would need to find it's "other" friend. –  bmike Aug 25 '11 at 22:09

9 Answers 9

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The trouble is with the devices, the Apple mouse and the keyboard in your case. They don't pair with more than one BlueTooth host at a time. You need a BlueTooth host that's "central" to both Macs if you want to use them.

You can find KVM switches that have BlueTooth host receivers in them. For example, this model from Zonet works over USB and provides BlueTooth receiver capabilities. I cannot attest to how well that would work. Presumably you'd pair the keyboard and mouse with the BlueTooth receiver in the KVM instead of in either Mac and then using the keyboard shortcuts, switch between control of the Macs who are connected to the KVM via USB. How the Macs would respond to the BlueTooth receiver in the KVM coming and going as you switched between them is unclear to me. Could be they handle it just fine.

The other option is to seek out BlueTooth accessories that allow themselves to be paired with more than one host. And then switch between those hosts from hardware keys on them. For example, this keyboard+trackpad combo from IOGear supports switching between 6 BlueTooth hosts. So you'd pair it with both Macs and the use the keyboard switches to decide which one you were talking to at any point in time. That, to me, seems like the more reliable approach. Of course: now you're stuck using IOGear's keyboard instead of the Apple peripherals.

share|improve this answer
    
What model from Zonet? That link is now broken. Can you just state the name of it? –  Neil Dec 5 '11 at 5:26
    
Sorry, no. I don't recall the model. –  Ian C. Dec 5 '11 at 15:02
    
The consensus of customer reviews seems to be that Zonet KVM switches are of really crappy quality, anyway. –  Neil Dec 5 '11 at 18:05
    
I cannot say, I haven't used any of them and my answer has a degree of scepticism in it when it comes to how well it would work. Not unsurprising to me that it wouldn't work well. –  Ian C. Dec 5 '11 at 18:14

http://www.share-mouse.com/ FREE and PAID versions

or

http://synergy-foss.org/ FREE

works on mac and pc and can share between them both

Ive been using this solution so i can use my apple wireless keyboard and magic mouse on my mac and pc at the same time. To switch you just drag your mouse to the edge of the screen and it shows up on the other computer as if it were one big desktop.

share|improve this answer

As long as both computers are on the same network you may want to consider a software solution like teleport for the keyboard and mouse. You'll still need some kind of switch for the display.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks for this. Teleport now working well. Any recommendations re a KVM switch. I have two MacBook Pros, external screen, printer, speakers and webcam –  user18673 Feb 13 '12 at 13:06
    
Most external screens have multiple video inputs. You could use one computer on the VGA input, and another on DVI (or whatever) input. Switching probably requires about 3 button presses, but you don't need a KVM and you don't have to put up with all the KVM cords! (And a reasonably priced KVM will force you to use VGA for both computers!) –  iconoclast Jun 24 at 13:46

I don't have a problem doing the above at all.

I have 2 MBPs. One is the latest Retina and the other is a Mid 2011. I have the same Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and Magic Trackpad paired to both and use them both without ever removing the pairing.

I simply turn Bluetooth off on the device I'm not using them on, so my solution assumes you have no other need for Bluetooth simultaneously. Both the keyboard and trackpad happily pair with multiple devices. It all works great and I don't need to power cycle the keyboard and Bluetooth . Simply toggling Bluetooth on the MBPs in a proper order works well. Turn off Bluetooth on the current computer you are using them with then turn on Bluetooth on the other. They will connect after a few seconds and you are ready to rock!

share|improve this answer
    
I'd like to second this approach. Note you need to disconnect the first computer before the 2nd one wakes up. Easy with 2 Macbooks. –  r00fus Oct 10 '13 at 20:52
1  
I realize this is an old post but the question was for an iMac and mbp. I might be in the same boat soon since I'm considering a second computer and the first is an iMac. The problem with this approach is I think you'll have to keep a cabled keyboard attached to the iMac: how else are you going to toggle bluetooth on and off: once off you won't have a keyboard otherwise to turn it back on. –  Mike Oct 13 at 13:49

I've wrestled with this issue myself - the solution that works for me is to use one of the non-Bluetooth wireless keyboards that has its own USB dongle. That way, the wireless connection is between the Bluetooth dongle and the keyboard, which is pre-paired at the factory. As far as the KVM is concerned, it is just a plain USB keyboard.

share|improve this answer

I, too, was looking for an answer to this very question. Here is the solution that I came up with:

  1. Go to System Preferences -> Bluetooth
  2. Click 'Advanced'
  3. Make sure that 'Allow Bluetooth devices to wake this computer' is unchecked
  4. Click 'OK'

Now, when I want to switch from my main computer to my MacBook Pro, I put the main computer to sleep and wake up the second one. The bluetooth keyboard and mouse both switch over to the laptop and away I go. When I want to return to the main computer, I put the laptop to sleep and wake the Mac Mini using its power button.

share|improve this answer

My recommendation is to not switch.

The problem with any switching solution, hardware or software is there is a lag between 5 and 10 seconds. So if your intending on switching back and forth quickly between platforms you may not be satisfied with the time requirement to switch back and forth.

I have a IO gear hardware switch for the past 3 years and it takes about 5 seconds each time to switch back and forth with the mouse and keyboard. So I have a wired keyboard for when I need to switch back and forth quickly for pits and pieces of what I'm working on.

share|improve this answer

I just purchased a Logitech K811 Bluetooth keyboard which has the ability to switch between devices. Add a Logitech T630 Touch Mouse and you are set.

share|improve this answer

You can use the GKMB01 Bluetooth Desktop Dock from IOGEAR to do this job if you are not physically moving the keyboard away from the area. The GKMB01 connects between one computer and your USB keyboard/mouse, then switches the keyboard and mouse function between the hard wired computer and two additional Bluetooth devices such as your iMac with a quick double tap of the OPT key.

http://www.iogear.com/product/GKMB01/

Disclaimer: I am posting on behalf of IOGEAR since they do have a direct solution available.

share|improve this answer

protected by Community Oct 18 '13 at 9:37

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.