Everybody knows that when in Windows and other desktop based point and click operating systems, a cursor appears on the screen. This tells you where the active area is to perform specific actions at any given point in time. There are several ways to move the cursor around, including laptop touchpads, trackballs, mice and even keyboards. The exception is on a touch screen where a cursor is not visible because your finger touching the screen is the cursor position.
Even if you plug in more than one device that can move the cursor around, you will only ever get one visible cursor on the screen. All the connected devices will then be able to move the single cursor. While this is by design, you might want to have more than one user interact with the desktop at the same time. You might even want to have one user use one monitor and another have a separate cursor on a second monitor, both performing different tasks.
Functions like these are not possible in Windows without using third party software. Here we show you two free applications that allow more than one mouse cursor on the screen at once. They were tested on Windows 7 and 10 64-bit.
These days TeamPlayer is a horrendously expensive piece of shareware costing at least $300 for a one year subscription to use two mice on screen at once. There is a fourteen day free trial to test it but you are very unlikely to purchase the software at those prices. Thankfully, there is a beta from an older version of TeamPlayer that still works and is free to use.
Although version 2.0.10 beta of TeamPlayer dates way back to 2008, we tried it in the latest Windows 10 64-bit and everything worked. This version is free for personal use, doesn’t expire and accepts up to three mouse/keyboard users at once.
After install, TeamPlayer is the easiest software to configure that you will ever encounter. This is simply because there are no settings to change whatsoever. The one available checkbox is to check for updates which doesn’t work. Make sure you have plugged in the mice and keyboards before launching TeamPlayer as it doesn’t recognize new devices while running. The program will need to be closed and relaunched if you insert another device.
During launch, you will be shown a 64-bit beta warning if you use 64-bit Windows and two popups will appear in the bottom right. One of those shows how many mouse and keyboard devices are found by the program. On screen will be up to three mouse cursors, each with its own color. The white cursor with a colored square is active and can be used for left or right click actions. The other cursors can be moved freely and you simply left click to take control and make that mouse active.
Although TeamPlayer does seem to work quite well for the most part, we found a couple of minor issues. One is some programs cause the active cursor to lose its colored square and when you click off the program window, the cursor will snap back to the square. On occasion, the colored secondary cursors will also move the white active cursor. However, this could be related to the connected mouse combination and might not occur for everyone.
Pluralinput has been around since 2012 but even the latest updates are still in beta and not a fully complete product. When it does go final you will have to pay to use the program but beta versions are free. Sadly, there appears to be many bugs and issues but hopefully things will improve as more updates are released. We highly recommend that you have system backups to hand and experience in being able to manually remove mouse drivers because it will likely be required.
The first thing to note is that when you double click the setup installer, Pluralinput will install itself automatically and run without confirmation. Make sure you intend to install it before running the executable. Insert the mice and any keyboards you want to use before running the installer to make things easier as the setup screen will automatically appear.
In the Pluralinput Dashboard, click on “Set up a new device” and it will show the connected devices. DO NOT check all boxes to use as a Pluralinput mouse or keyboard. Instead, check only the boxes for additional mice or keyboards and leave your primary devices alone. If you include everything it will make your system difficult to use and you may need to manually uninstall the mouse driver or plug in another mouse. Click “Apply changes to devices” when done.
At this stage, Pluralinput installs its own mouse and keyboard drivers for the devices you have selected. When setup is complete, you will have your primary mouse with its normal white cursor and any additional Pluralinput mice will have brightly colored cursors. We’re not sure if this effect is intended or the result of beta software, but the Pluralinput controlled mice have very limited access and many things cannot be clicked or right clicked on.
From the dashboard > My devices > Preferences, you can change some aspects of each controlled mouse. Options include; pointer color and size, invert axis, swap or disable buttons, double click timeout, and display selection. This last option is useful because you can restrict the mouse cursor to only appear on specific monitors of a multi monitor setup. If for example, you let the cursor use a web browser on a secondary screen while the primary cursor works on the main screen, it appears to work reasonably well.
Pluralinput also includes a remote client that allows control of devices over the network. A big issue we found is if you uninstall the program it doesn’t seem to uninstall the Pluralinput mouse or keyboard driver and leaves its own drivers installed. This is not ideal and you will need to go to Device Manager and manually uninstall the drivers by also selecting the option to “Delete the driver software for this device”. Then scan for hardware changes or reconnect the devices. For more information how to do this, refer to the support article on the Pluralinput website.