Technology

[Nishikawa Kazuhisa’s Irregular Column]Try “Mouse Without Borders” that can share and copy HID between Windows machines – Universal Control Supplementary Instructions

Last time I posted an article about Universal Control, but actually, about 10 years ago, there was genuine Microsoft software Mouse Without Borders that did the same on Windows. I feel like it’s new to those who know, but on the contrary, a lot of people don’t know because it’s so old. So this time I would like to introduce it again as a comment. Also, I’d like to make a little additional explanation about Universal Control at the beginning.

Supplementary Instructions for the Last Universal Control

Looking at the Facebook timeline etc, I’m a little bit stuck with the keyboard so I wanted to add that. That’s the keyboard layout on the iPad OS side. For example, both macOS/iPadOS are set to Japanese (JIS layout), but for some reason, when typing with iPadOS, it becomes US layout (and vice versa). Actually, when I first set it up, I had issues with the US layout even though it was a JIS layout.

To fix this, when it comes to character entry items, a long, thin palette (like the screenshot) appears at the bottom on the left (sometimes it doesn’t, depending on the application or location. In the example for the calendar)[あ]Click. Then, Keyboard Settings…/Off/Show Keyboard/English (US)/Japanese Romaji and Menu Display, so select Japanese Romaji (or English (US)). This is what you need.

It’s easy once you know it, but this palette can be a little annoying as it may or may not appear, depending on the application or location.

If the physical keyboard layout and the movement on the iPad OS side are different, select Japanese Romaji (or English (US)) from the palette below and select each other.

The other is that I think I’ll keep using Universal Control after that.[ディスプレイを追加]It sometimes turns into a screenshot while you’re at it. Below the main display is the Sidecar at the top (a second display for macOS) and the Universal Control at the bottom. I thought “Oh!” for a while, but in this case Sidecar has priority, unfortunately Universal Control doesn’t work.

Sidecar and Universal Control are lined up at the same time, but… only with Sidecar.

Sidecar is an app, so if you flip it over, you can use the iPad OS app normally.

In fact, Sidecar is an app that runs on iPad OS, so even if you’re using it as a second monitor for macOS, you can use other iPad OS apps by turning the app to the back. And if you select the Sidecar app again, it becomes a second monitor for macOS, like nothing happened.

So, take advantage of this feature, if you turn on Universal Control (that is, exclusive) when turning over the Sidecar application, for example, usually the Sidecar is the second display, when you want to use the Google Photos application, turn the Sidecar over. Use Universal Control to start/manipulate apps, when done go back to Sidecar and go to the macOS screen….very convenient to use. I really hope Apple supports it.

The mouse knows no borders とは! ?

I would like to continue on the topic, the mouse knows no borders. At the end of the Universal Control article, I wrote “I want this feature to be standard in Windows”, but while it’s not a Windows feature option, there is software that can do the same as genuine Microsoft for a long time… The name is “mouse” no border”.

Looking at past articles, it seems to have been around since at least 2013. For those of you who know it, I’m reminded now, but I’d like to introduce it again as something like Windows Universal Controls.

According to the company website, the main functions are as follows.

main feature

0) Windows (WIN7/WIN8/WIN10/2016, X86 or AMD64)

1) Seamlessly control multiple computers with a single mouse and keyboard

2) Peer-to-peer system: any machine can be the host

3) Multiple modes: keyboard/mouse is repeated on all machines

4) Shared Clipboard: Copy text/image/screenshot from one machine and paste to other machine

5) Drag and drop files across machines

6) Selective screen capture (Ctrl+Shift+S)

7) Support login/UAC desktop

Mouse Without Borders Setup/User Guide, Tips, Tricks and FAQsより

That is, mouse and keyboard can be shared, any machine can be a master, copy/drag and drop support, use when logging in…, which is exactly what Universal Control claims. The difference is that the target is just a Windows machine (although it used to support Windows Phone) and a separate operating system.

Also, Bluetooth and Microsoft ID (a replacement for Apple ID) are not required due to a slightly different mechanism. Since it uses TCP instead of Wi-Fi Direct (default ports 15100 and 15101), the machines must be connected on the same LAN, not just wired/wireless. Conversely, this is a common environment when using multiple Windows machines on a LAN. The hurdle of system requirements is low. Windows version should be 7 or higher.

environment

Then I want to set it right away. It’s not a standard Windows feature, so it’s a lot more work (more?) than Universal Control, but not too hard.

First, download the software from here. The version at the time of writing is 2.2.1.327. The release date is April 28, 2021. Surprisingly, it has remained so until recently. A file called MouseWithoutBordersSetup.msi will be created, so click it to start the installation.

Below, please see the flow with screenshots, but basically after installation, enter the security key and machine name (Windows 11 Settings > System PC icon to the right, Windows 10 computer name on the same panel), the location relationship is like… . Also, once connected, all panels on other machines will be in the same state.

Microsoft Garage Mouse Without Borders website

This completes the setup. Although it is written in English, there is no hard part. It’s a bit sloppy compared to the universal control settings, which is a shame. If possible, it would be better if the machine name could be selected by browsing like a network connection.

Normal use may not require touching other options and IP mapping. Keyboard shortcuts, if any. If you don’t use it, you should disable it so that it doesn’t overlap with other apps. When the machine name cannot be retrieved for some reason, the IP map explicitly describes the machine name and IP address (although it may change with DHCP).

Mouse Without Borders service is running

Note that this panel is only used to connect/deploy the device, the service is running after setup and generally does not need to be started.

I tried

As a usage pattern, are there many cases where a laptop is connected to a desktop or tablet without using a keyboard? Of course, there will also be a desktop (with HID) + tablet (or laptop).

This time I tried laptop + small tablet (vertical), laptop + tablet with stand (horizontal), desktop computer + tablet (horizontal).

Once all the machines are set up, like I started writing, you can start entering keys from when you log in, you can use copy paste and drag and drop, it’s a very convenient environment. Use the touchpad to scroll smoothly with two fingers.[Shift]+[Win]+[S]There are no particular issues with screenshot range and IME related experiments (I am[無変換],[変換]Some key combinations may be inconvenient since IMEs can only be turned on/off by keystrokes).

I’ve played with the third environment for a while, but the vertical layout of the universal controls is the same, and it doesn’t take your eyes off the keyboard, so personal use is easiest. But they are all windows environment, copy and paste, drag and drop can be, so multi-display seems to be an illusion.

Obviously the only thing it can’t do is window movement between monitors and performance coverage due to differences in machine power. Since the tablet in the photo is a Celeron, it is much better than the Ryzen 5 4500U desktop. Wouldn’t it be safer to use mostly the flat end as a reference in this case?

Figure 1 / Laptop + Small Tablet (Vertical Position)

Figure 2 / Laptop + Tablet with Stand (Horizontal Position)

Figure 3 / Under the monitor of a desktop PC tablet (horizontal position)

When I touched it, I noticed two weak spots. The first is that the taskbar in Windows 11 cannot be placed on the left or right. When the PC is placed up or down, the mouse moves across the taskbar, so it reacts based on the position. Why change for Windows 11? There are a lot of oddities, but this fix under the taskbar is one of them (there’s a trick to change it, but the display is broken).

The second point may be a rare case, but JIS layout and US layout keyboards cannot be mixed (although Universal Control is the same). One of them must be matched (usually a JIS arrangement in Japan).

Both of the tablets I’ve used this time around happen to have a 2in1 keyboard, but they both have a US layout. Whether you have a keyboard connected or not, it is the US keyboard in the Windows language settings. And the laptop used mainly does not match the JIS layout.

For example, if the tablet is used as a slave, no keyboard is connected, and the laptop side is mainly used, it is sufficient to set the language setting on the tablet side to the JIS keyboard. However, if you take it apart and try to use it as a 2in1, the keyboard is US, so change the language setting to US, which requires a Windows restart.

Even if it becomes Windows 11, as long as you change the keyboard layout, you still need to restart. It has been a bad norm since ancient times, and every restart is extremely troublesome. I hope Microsoft fixes the basic parts of it without touching weird parts like the taskbar mentioned above.

Anyway, if you have multiple Windows machines and are connected to a LAN, you can try it now. Not only those who do not know Mouse Without Borders, but also those who do, why not try it again? Now that Universal Control for macOS/iPadOS is getting attention, the mechanics are different in the Windows world, but surprisingly, almost the same thing has been done for about 10 years! ?

Last but not least, there are various shareware like KVM switches that use TCP for a long time. I used “Share Mouse” on macOS/Windows for a while, so it was very convenient (paid/free versions available).

I’ve since changed Windows to a VM on macOS, and I don’t use software like Remote Desktop Connection much anymore, but Universal Control might trigger some of that back. This kind of software is very interesting because if you become addicted, the environment changes dramatically.


As mentioned above, Mouse without Borders is an environment that is not inferior to Universal Control, even if the OS is only compatible with Windows, even if you log in, because it can share with HID, copy paste, drag and drop, and serve. As long as it can be connected to a local area network with Windows 7 or above, it can be used, and the threshold is low.

On the other hand, it is also a fact that the settings panel is old and bad. I wish Microsoft would just modernize this UI part and make it a standard Windows feature.

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