Fixing Problems with Synergy on Windows Vista

If you use the excellent Synergy application to share your keyboard and mouse between computers, you’ve probably noticed some weird behaviors in Windows Vista… especially when running any application that requires administrator permissions.

The problem is that Synergy is getting “locked out” while your admin mode application has the foreground focus. The workaround is to just run Synergy in administrator mode as well.

What is Synergy Again?

Synergy is an open source utility that allows you to share a single keyboard and mouse across multiple computers running different operating systems. This differs from remote desktop or VNC in that you continue to use separate monitors for each computer.

For instance, in my setup I have a keyboard and mouse attached to a computer running Windows Vista. On the left is a Mac Mini, and on the right is a computer running Kubuntu. I can move the mouse from one screen to the other as if it was a giant desktop with three monitors. (I’ll post a picture one of these days)

For more information on Synergy you can check out the homepage.

Run Synergy in Admin Mode

The biggest problem I’ve had with Synergy is that I can’t move the mouse between computers while an administrator mode application is open. This is easily remedied by simply running Synergy as administrator.

Right-click on the shortcut you usually use to launch Synergy, and then choose the Advanced button on the Shortcut tab.

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Here you can choose to “Run as administrator”, which will force the application to always run in admin mode. If you have UAC enabled, you’ll be forced to accept each time.

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Automatic Starting

You cannot use Synergy in “Start as Service” mode in Windows Vista because the new security model prevents system services from interacting with the desktop. You will have to launch the application as a regular startup item.

In order to make the services start up automatically, you’ll have to follow these steps:

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I hope this information is useful to other people… it’s been indispensable for me.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.