Available USB ports on laptops are at a premium even if you have few things to actually plug in, but what do you do if you are using wireless accessories and need those precious USB ports for other uses as well? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post looks for answers to one reader’s USB port dilemma.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

Photo courtesy of Colin Campbell (Flickr).

The Question

SuperUser reader teenup wants to know if it is possible to use a wireless keyboard and mouse directly with a laptop’s Wi-Fi:

Is there any way I can use a wireless keyboard and mouse without inserting their USB receivers into my laptop’s USB ports, and just use the Wi-Fi available on the laptop instead?

Is it possible to do this, or does teenup just have to accept losing access to those two USB ports for other uses? Are there any other solutions to teenup’s problem?

The Answer

SuperUser contributors Traveling Tech Guy and Daniel B have the answer for us. First up, Traveling Tech Guy:

No. A wireless mouse/keyboard does not use regular Wi-Fi (i.e. 802.11x) and can only bind with the receiver it came with. An exception may be the Logitech Unifying receiver, which allows connecting every Logitech device that supports it, to a single receiver – but still, it will take one USB port.

If you do not want to use a receiver, consider using a Bluetooth mouse/keyboard instead.

Followed by the answer from Daniel B:

Yes and no. Yes, this is possible. No, it does not work with Wi-Fi (802.11x).

Instead, this can be accomplished with Bluetooth, another wireless technology built into most modern notebooks. If yours is equipped with it, you can use Bluetooth mice and keyboards. There are plenty available.


Bluetooth is definitely the best way to go in a situation like this where every USB port really counts when getting your work done.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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