Ever wanted to copy from one document on one computer and paste in another document on another computer? Well, you can do just that; it is possible with Input Director. Input Director can be used to control multiple Windows computers using the same mouse, keyboard connected to one computer. You can switch between computers by simply using the hotkeys or by moving the cursor to the edge of one screen for it to appear on another. Another cool feature of Input Director is the ability to encrypt.
How to use Input Director on Windows 10
After installing and configuring Input Director on your master computer and slave computer(s), it is time to give it a run.
- Using INPUT DIRECTOR
- Moving from master to slave computer(s) using a mouse
- Moving from master to slave computer(s) using hotkeys
- Returning the cursor to the master computer
- Startup options
- Managing when slaves are available
- Using the shared clipboard
- Locking a system using Win-L
- Ctrl-Alt-Delete for a slave
- Pop-up Context Menu
- Opening Files on Another Computer
- Global Settings
- Master Settings
- Slave Settings
- Auto-switching roles – using any keyboard/mouse to control any system
- Information Window
- Setting up Data Encryption Security
- Keyboard Macros
- Key Bindings.
Input Director review
Input Director allows you to control multiple Windows systems with the keyboard/mouse attached to one of the computers.
1] Moving from master to slave computer(s) using a mouse
Depending on which side you configured your master computer to be (left or right), you would move the mouse to the right or left side. The mouse should disappear and appear on the slave computer. For example: if the master computer is on the right of the slave computer, then to go to the slave computer, you would move the cursor to the right of the master screen and it should disappear and appear on the slave computer. At this point whatever you type will appear on the slave computer.
For transitions using the mouse, there are a variety of transition options that can be set:
- Requiring that the cursor is tapped twice on the side of the screen to transition to the next screen
- The cursor must be pressed against the side of the screen for a moment to cause a transition
- A key(s) must be held down to permit the cursor the transition to occur
2] Moving from master to slave computer(s) using hotkeys
If you have configured your hotkeys, you can press your hotkey combination, you will find that the cursor appears in the middle of the screen of the slave computer. You will also find that all the mouse and keyboard input is now on the slave computer.
3] Returning the cursor to the master computer
The default hotkey is left ctrl + left alt + control-break (control-break is the key marked pause/break to the right of the scroll-lock key on a standard keyboard). You can change this hotkey from the Main Input Director panel.
4] Startup options
When INPUT DIRECTOR is first installed, it will start up with Windows, but it will not start up as a master or a slave. It must be configured to start as a master or slave. This setting must be chosen from the global preference tab. To be able to control a slave prior to logging in to it, you must have set Input Director to run on startup and be enabled as a slave.
5] Managing when slaves are available
Slave computers can be skipped when transitioning between computers, this is done by checking the skip option in the settings. Slave computers should be set to skip by default at startup. When the slave computers are ready, they will communicate with the master computer to say they are ready. Slaves will transmit to the master that they are being shut down or reboot and the master will skip them until they become available.
6] Using the shared clipboard
Using the shared clipboard across systems is as simple as using the Windows clipboard normally. Copy the content on one system, transition across to another system and paste. Input Director supports most clipboard data formats.
To be able to copy/paste files, the files that are to be copied must be accessible via network shared directories. Input Director supports Windows O/S security and as such, the user logged in on the target system must have permission to read the files using the network share.
7] Locking a system using Win-L
Using Win-L to lock your system will always lock the Master system, regardless of which system you’re controlling at the time. This is a Windows security feature. To simulate Win-L on a slave system, use Ctrl-Win-L instead (this hotkey will also work on the master). You can change this hotkey on the master preferences screen.
8] Ctrl-Alt-Delete for a slave
Hitting Ctrl-Alt-Delete will always activate on the master, regardless of which system you’re controlling. This is a Windows security feature. To simulate Ctrl-Alt-Delete on a slave system, use Ctrl-Alt-Insert (sometimes Insert is marked as “Ins” on a keyboard). This hotkey will also work on the master system. You can change this hotkey on the master preferences screen.
9] Pop-up Context Menu
If you right-click on the “ID” icon on the notification status bar, you will be presented with a shortcut menu that lets you disable/enable Input Director, shut it down, etc.
On the Master System, the option “Shutdown Slaves and the Master” provides a shortcut to turning all the systems off. (A slave must have its “Shutdown this slave if directed to by the Master” option set). The “Lock Slaves and Master” operates similarly.
If Input Director is hidden, you can double-click the left mouse button on the “ID” icon to display the Input Director window.
Opening Files on Another Computer
If you find that UPI has files on another of your computer that you open often, Input Director makes it easy to open a file or directory on any other master/slave computer. Using Windows Explorer, if you right-click on a file or directory that is accessible via a network share, an Input Director menu item will be included in the pop-up menu.
Input Director settings
1] Global Preferences
When Input Director is just installed, it will start up with Windows, by default it will start up in disabled mode instead of master/slave mode. To change this, open the Input Director window and switch to the Global Preferences tab.
2] Slave Preferences
The Slave Preferences are located in the bottom of the ‘Slave Configuration’ tab
These 5 settings are only active when Input Director is in slave mode:
- A Master can request to all slaves that they shutdown (This is initiated on the Master via the “Shutdown Slave Workstations” button on the Main panel or via the “ID” icon’s context menu). Each slave can be set as to how to respond to this request. Up to 4 alternatives are provided: Do Nothing, Stand By, Hibernate and Shutdown. Only those choices that are valid on a particular system are shown.
- Synchronize locking this slave system with the Master – If the Master system has the input focus and the Windows-L command is hit, the Master system will be locked. Any slave that has this checkbox selected will be locked at the same time.
- Keep this system awake whilst Input Director is active – Enabling this option will ensure that the slave system will not switch to sleep mode when you’re controlling other systems using Input Director. If the Windows screensaver is active on the slave and master systems, this option will switch on the slave’s screensaver when the master is activated.
- Hide the cursor when switching away from this slave – With this checkbox selected, the cursor will be hidden when transitioning away from the slave. It can be made to reappear by transitioning back to it or by moving the locally attached mouse. Also, it will reappear after 30 minutes of inactivity on the slave.
- Keep cursor visible when no mouse attached – Disconnecting the mouse from a Windows 10 system will result in the cursor being permanently invisible. Enabling this option will ensure the cursor is visible regardless of whether a mouse is plugged into the computer.
3] Master Preferences
On your Master system, start Input Director and switch to the “Master Preferences” tab.
Master Preference falls into three categories:
- Mouse/Keyboard Preference
- Transition Options
1] Mouse/Keyboard Preference:
This is where you choose the mouse and keyboard settings for master and slave systems.
- Set WIN-L Equivalent
- Set Ctrl-Alt-Del Equivalent
- Use the system keyboard
2] Transition Options
This is where the transition preferences are chosen.
- You can choose to have a key combination pressed before the transition can be done
- Set hotkeys for transitions
- Disable screen edge transitions etc.
This is where you find all the advance preferences such as:
- Allowing slaves to wake over the network
- Check offline slave availability
- Set Logitech keyboard macros
- Update slave availability statue
Input Director allows auto switching od roles. Any computer can be switched to master or slave,
- A system can be set to master if the keyboard or mouse attached to it is used
- A system can be set to slave if an authorized master communicates with it
To enable auto-switching, open Input Director, switch to the Global Preferences tab and enable auto-switch. Do this on all your systems.
The master and slave systems can display an Information Window, which indicates Input Director’s status and which system currently has the input focus. To control the information window, switch to the “Global Preferences” tab. There is a “Show” push button which can be selected and deselected, and a “Reset” button to reset the Information window back to its defaults.
Press the “Show” button and the Information Window will pop-up in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen:
If the window doesn’t pop-up, make sure that Input Director is enabled as a Slave or a Master. By default, if Input Director is disabled the window will remain hidden.
When input switches from one system to another, all Input Director’s displaying the information window will be updated.
Setting up Data Encryption
Input Director can be set up so that data can be encrypted between master and slaves. Input Director uses the Advanced Encryption Standard cipher to encrypt data.
Enabling encryption may cause the mouse or keyboard to feel less responsive on older hardware. This is because all the input information sent across must be encrypted by the master and then decrypted by the slave before it is used. This can also impact the remote clipboard as this data will also be encrypted and decrypted on the fly.
Encryption is configured on each slave. You can choose to only encrypt data to one slave but not another. Also, you can set a different password for each slave. Encryption should be enabled on each slave.
To set up encryption:
Open Input Director on your slave computer and choose slave configuration.
Click change to bring up the set security dialogue box then choose AES Encryption and type the password of your choice.
The longer the password length the more secure, however, this will affect system responsiveness on older hardware. Input Director does not enforce password length, mixing of letters and numbers or any method that could use to make the password more secure, so it’s up to the user to choose a good password.
The encryption is active on the slave as indicated by the closed padlock and description.
To update the encryption configuration on the master:
- Open Input Director on the Master and switch to the ‘Master Configuration’ tab
- Select the slave that now has data security and press ‘Edit’ to open up the ‘Slave Configuration’ window. Click the ‘Change’ button to set the corresponding data security settings for the slave.
- Set the encryption, key length, and password to match the corresponding slave. Click ok to save the changes.
Input Director allows for the recording and playback of keyboard macros to carry out certain functions, either on the master computer or across the network to a slave computer. A keyboard macro is a sequence of keyboard strokes that can be played back when requires. In Input Director a keyboard macro is basically hotkeys.
Input Director lets you permanently bind a key to another system. This can be useful if, for example, you have speakers attached to a slave. Using key bindings, you can bind the volume up and down media keys on the master’s keyboard to that slave.
Bound keys will always operate on the system they’re bound to, regardless of which system is being controlled at the time.
A Bound key cannot be used as part of any Input Director hotkey. If you do bind a key that is also used as part of a hotkey, the hotkey will no longer work.
Download Input Director from the official website. It is free for personal non-commercial use only.
Related read: Mouse Without Borders lets you share keyboard & mouse across multiple Windows computers.