If you have a laptop, you may think there’s no reason to buy a Bluetooth keyboard for your desktop computer. They have Bluetooth, so connecting them shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Well, the truth is that getting it to work requires some work, but it’s doable with the right apps.
Here’s how to turn your laptop into a remote keyboard with Synergy:
- Download Synergy.
- Configure the server computer.
- Configure the client computer.
- Accept request and configure.
Here’s how to do it with Input Director:
- Install Input Director.
- Add client system.
- Grant access on your desktop.
- Set up your keyboard.
There isn’t one straightforward way to turn your laptop into a Bluetooth keyboard.
However, there’s software that lets you connect it to your desktop via WiFi and use it as a shared keyboard. We’ll talk about the two most reliable apps to help you achieve this.
Best Paid App: Synergy
Let’s get something out of the way: you may find people on the internet claiming you can connect your laptop to your desktop via Bluetooth as if it were any other Bluetooth device. Chances are they are misinformed or even promoting malware.
The best way to connect your laptop to your desktop as if it were a Bluetooth keyboard is with an app that works over a WiFi network.
There are a few options out there, but we have selected Synergy and Input Director because they are reliable and transparent.
We’ll start with Synergy because it’s the most feature-packed, and it’s the one you see recommended most often across forums. Another reason is that it works across platforms, which means you can use a MacBook as a keyboard for a Windows desktop.
But if you want a free option, skip to the next section.
The only issue with Synergy is that it isn’t free. Don’t worry: there isn’t a subscription involved, but it does cost a single purchase of around $30. You could certainly buy a cheap Bluetooth keyboard with that money.
If you just need something to type with, it’s probably a better idea to forget about turning your laptop into a keyboard and buying a cheap Bluetooth keyboard instead.
Related reading: Best Bluetooth mouse you can get today.
But if you really want to use your laptop’s keyboard, either because you like it or because it improves your workflow, then Synergy is the safest way to go.
1. Install Synergy
Synergy is a paid app. You’ll have to create an account and buy the license before you can use it.
Head out to the Synergy home page and click on Buy Synergy now. Follow the steps for account creation and payment and you’ll get a download link.
After downloading the latest version of the installer, install Synergy and enter your license number when it asks you to.
Repeat this step on all the computers you want to connect.
2. Configure the Server Computer
You’ll have to determine which computer will be the server and which one will be the client. The server is the one that controls other computers, and the client is a computer controlled by the server.
In this case, your laptop is the server and your desktop is the client.
Open Synergy on your laptop and tick the box that says “Use this computer’s keyboard and mouse.”
On the top of the window, you’ll find the computer’s name and IP address. Take note of that.
3. Configure the Client Computer
Open Synergy on your desktop and tick the box that says “Use another computer’s mouse and keyboard.”
A box will appear that says “Server IP address or name.” Enter one of either and click “Connect.” Now click on “Apply.”
The server IP address and name are the ones you can see on your laptop’s Synergy app.
4. Accept Request and Configure
Back on your laptop, you should see a pop-up asking for a request connection from your desktop. Click on “Accept and configure.”
A window will open with several tabs to configure your connection. You can play around with monitor placement and hotkeys or leave it as it is. Hit “Ok” when you’re ready.
That’s it! Now you can control your desktop with your laptop’s keyboard and mouse.
Related reading: how to connect bluetooth speakers to non-bluetooth TV.
Best Free App: Input Director
Input Director is arguably more limited than Synergy. Synergy can connect any kind of device, so you could connect a MacBook to a Windows desktop to use as a keyboard.
However, Input Director has the distinct advantage of being completely free for personal use. It works only across Windows devices, but it’s a perfect choice for any Windows user.
Although simple and lightweight, Input Director has more than enough features, like a shared clipboard among different computers and multi-monitor support.
1. Install Input Director
To start, you’ll have to download Input Director. The program is available for:
- Windows 11
- Windows 10
- Windows 8
- Windows 7
Just open the downloaded file and follow the prompts. You’ll need to install Input Director on all the devices you want to connect. In this case, that means on your laptop and your desktop.
2. Add Client System
Next, you’ll have to connect your computers.
Open Input Director on your laptop. Make sure Input Director is also open and running on your desktop.
Your laptop will be the “director,” which means its mouse and keyboard will control other devices.
- Click on the “Client Systems” menu on the left panel.
- On the new window, click on “Scan network for candidate systems.”
- Your desktop should appear on the list. Click on it and hit the “Select” button.
- Click OK on the Systems Configuration window.
3. Grant Access on Your Desktop
On your desktop, an Input Director should be showing you a pop-up window asking you for authorization to give control of the computer to your laptop. Remember that the “Director system” is your laptop. Click “Yes” to grant access.”
4. Set Up Your Keyboard
That’s all there is to it. Now your laptop’s keyboard and mouse or trackpad can control your desktop. All that’s left is to tweak the settings to your liking.
You can disable the mouse function in settings or simply ignore it. In any case, it won’t stop your desktop’s mouse from working.
Click the “Director Preferences” on your laptop to set up things like hotkeys and reaction times. You can also change macros and key bindings on the “Macros and Key Bindings” menu.
If you’re decided on getting your laptop to work as if it were a Bluetooth keyboard, get ready to tinker around with software until you get it right.
Buying a Bluetooth keyboard may prove easier and even less expensive.
However, there are situations where using your laptop’s keyboard is simply too convenient or comfortable. If you’re working across multiple devices, apps like Synergy and Input Director may make your life much easier.