Input Director

Usage Guide for Input Director

(If you haven't yet installed Input Director on your systems head over to the Quickstart Install Guide to show you how.)


1. Using Input Director

Now that Input Director is up and running and configured on your master system and your slave system you can start using it:

1.1 Transitioning between Systems using the Mouse

Assuming you had configured your slave as being to the right of your master system (go back and look here if you're not sure what side you've configured your slave on) then using your mouse you should be able to move your cursor to the right so that it goes beyond the right-side of the screen, it should disappear and re-appear on your slave screen. Anything you now type will be sent to the slave system. To switch back to the master system, simply reverse the process and move the cursor to the left side of slave screen and keep going until it re-appears on the master system.

For transitions using the mouse, there are a variety of transition options that can be set:

Using one of the features can help if you find your cursor often unintentionally slipping across to other systems. Select the mode of transition from the Master Preferences screen.

1.2 Transitioning between Systems using hotkeys

If you've set a hotkey for the slave, you can use that by hitting your hotkey combination. The cursor should appear in the center of the slave screen and you'll find that your mouse and keyboard input is now being redirected to the slave system.

You can also set up hotkeys to move the cursor between systems by their relative positions: left, right, up and down. These hotkeys are configured on the Master Preferences screen.

There is also a hotkey to return the cursor to the Master (see next section)

1.3 Recovering the cursor to the Master

If you wish to use a hotkey or if you start an application on the slave system and the system freezes and you need to return control to the master system, the default hotkey is left ctrl + left alt + control-break (control-break is the key marked pause/break to the right of the scroll-lock key on a standard keyboard). You can change this hotkey from the Main Input Director panel:

If things get really stuck, you can do a ctrl-alt-delete to regain control of input.

1.4 Startup Options

When you first install Input Director, it will be set to automatically start itself when Windows is started, but it won't be set to start up in either master or slave mode. Once you've decided which system will be the master and which will be the slave, you need to tell Input Director to start itself in the appropriate mode:

Change whether Input Director should be a slave or a master on startup from the Global Preferences tab.

To be able to control a slave prior to logging into it, you must have set Input Director to run on startup and be enabled as a slave

1.5 Managing when slaves are available

On the Master Configuration panel, a slave can be temporarily marked as one to be "skipped" when transitioning between systems. For example:

In this screenshoot the slave "jane" is positioned between bob and the Master system but has its Skip flag checked. When moving the cursor between the Master System and the remaining slave, Input Director will treat the "jane" system as if it doesn't exist. A slave's skip flag setting is temporary and not remembered between restarting Input Director or rebooting the Windows system.

You can quickly unskip a slave by using its hotkey to switch over to it. If the switch is successful, the slave's skip flag will be cleared.

Once you have Input Director running and configured it is beneficial to turn on the "Default all slaves to skip on startup". With this option on, all slaves are set to be skipped on startup. When a slave system becomes available (for example you boot a slave computer) it will attempt to communicate with the Master and let it know that its now available. The master will then automatically 'unskip' the slave and let you know that it is now available. This option will help to avoid transitioning to a slave that is not yet ready. Slaves will inform their Master if they're being shutdown or rebooted and the Master will accordingly 'skip' them.

To learn more about slave skipping, have a look here in the FAQ.

1.6 Using the Shared Clipboard

Using the shared clipboard across systems is as simple as using the Windows clipboard normally. Copy the content on one system, transition across to another system and paste. Input Director supports most clipboard data formats.

To be able to copy/paste files, the files that are to be copied must be accessible via network shared directories. Input Director supports Windows O/S security and as such, the user logged in on the target system must have permission to read the files using the network share.

More information on the shared clipboard can be found in the FAQ

1.7 Locking a System using Win-L

Using Win-L to lock your system will always lock the Master system, regardless of which system you're controlling at the time. This is a Windows security feature. To simulate Win-L on a slave system, use Ctrl-Win-L instead (this hotkey will also work on the master). You can change this hotkey on the master preferences screen.

1.8 Ctrl-Alt-Delete for a Slave

Hitting Ctrl-Alt-Delete will always activate on the master, regardless of which system you're controlling. This is a Windows security feature. To simulate Ctrl-Alt-Delete on a slave system, use Ctrl-Alt-Insert (sometimes Insert is marked as "Ins" on a keyboard). This hotkey will also work on the master system. You can change this hotkey on the master preferences screen.

1.9 Pop-up Context Menu

If you right-click on the "ID" icon on the notification status bar, you will be presented with a shortcut menu that lets you disable/enable Input Director, shutdown it down, etc:

On the Master system, the option "Shutdown Slaves and the Master" provides a shortcut to turning all the systems off. (A slave must have its "Shutdown this slave if directed to by the Master" option set). Click here to see more information about this slave setting. The "Lock Slaves and Master" operates similarly.

If Input Director is hidden, you can double-click the left mouse-button on the "ID" icon to display the Input Director window.

1.10 Opening a file on a different system

If you often find yourself opening/editing files that are located on one of your other computers, Input Director makes it easy to open a file or directory on any other master/slave computer.

Using Windows Explorer, if you right-click on a file or directory that is accessible via a network share, an Input Director menu item will be included in the pop-up menu.

You can then elect to open the file on one of your other Input Director computers. If you hold down left-shift when right-clicking on the file, Input Director will also switch input control to that system.

2. Preferences

2.1 Global Preferences

On installation Input Director will be configured so that it is automatically started when you turn on your system. By default, it will start up in "disabled" mode rather than as a Master or Slave. To change this open the Input Director window and switch to the Global Preferences tab, you will see:

Startup -

Shared Clipboard - Check the "Shared Clipboard" box for this system to share clipboards with all participating slaves and the master. Clipboard file copy/pastes require that the files being copied are available via a Windows network shared directory and that the security has been setup such that the user logged in on the destination machine doing the copying can access the files.

A file to be copied doesn't need to have its immediate directory shared. For example, a file called "mydoc.txt" located in C:\Documents\Biz\, could have the "Biz" directory setup as a shared folder, or the "Documents" or even the C: drive's root folder, as long as the user on the other machine doing the pasting has appropriate access. When files are copied to the Input Director shared clipboard, Input Director looks through the list of shared directories on the system with the files and assesses which ones are available via network shared directories. If given a choice of shared directory, it will always pick the most immediate to the file. For example - if C:\Document\Biz has been shared as well as C:\Document, then C:\Document\Biz will be picked as this is the most immediate (closest) directory to the location of the file.

Under global preferences, there is an option to exclude "C$, D$ shares". These are Windows administrator shares that are setup by Windows and by default have very limited access. Because the access is so limited, checking this option will cause Input Director to ignore them when considering whether a file is available in a shared directory. If you did want to setup shares for the whole C: or D: drive, you are best off creating a new read-only share on the root directory for each hard disk and setting appropriate security permissions.

Preferred Network Interface - If your system has multiple network connections (For example, if it is wireless and also is connected to a network via ethernet) this setting allows you to choose a preferred network interface when communicating with other Input Director systems. This choice is a preference in that, as an example, if on a master system you have set your ethernet connection as the preferred interface, but the slave system its trying to communicate with is only available via wireless, then the preference is overridden. This is an advanced option and should only be set if there are communication problems and the master and/or slaves are not able to connect to each other or the remote clipboard isn't working (e.g the clipboard is only working one direction but not the other).

Miscellaneous options -

Suppress Warning Messages - Clicking on the "Suppress Warning Messages" button will pop-up the following window:

You can choose which information and warning messages are suppressed.

The "Inform and automatically set slave to skip if it doesn't respond to this master" option deserves special mention - If you attempt to transition to a slave and its unavailable, the Master will pop up a window and ask you if you wish to skip this slave. By turning this option on - the system will no longer prompt you and will automatically skip the unresponsive slave. A callout message will appear (and will disappear after about 10 seconds) from the "ID" icon on the task bar informing you about the change in slave status.

2.2 Slave Preferences

The Slave Preferences are located in the bottom third of the 'Slave Configuration' tab:

These 5 settings are only active when Input Director is in slave mode:

2.3 Master Preferences

On your Master system, start Input Director and switch to the the "Master Preferences" tab:

Master Preferences fall into 3 categories:

2.3.1 Mouse / Keyboard Preferences

2.3.2 Transition Options

2.3.3 Advanced

3. Auto-switching roles - using any keyboard/mouse to control any system

If you choose to leave the keyboard & mouse attached to your slave system, you can take advantage of Input Director's auto-switching feature. Auto-switching allows computers to change roles automatically between master and slave. You can then use the keyboard/mouse on any of your computers to control any other.

With auto-switching turned on:

To set up auto-switching, you need to setup both the master and slave configuration in Input Director on every computer.

For example, if you have two computers - one named bob and the other jane. You would run through the configuration steps in the quickstart installation guide setting up bob as the master system and jane as the slave system. And then run through the process again but this time set up jane as the master and bob as the slave. Make sure that you can manually enable bob as a master and jane as slave and that you can use bob's keyboard/mouse to control jane. Then switch their roles, manually enable bob as the slave and jane as the master, and test that you can control bob using jane as the master.

To enable auto-switching, open Input Director, switch to the Global Preferences tab and enable auto-switch. Do this on all your systems.

Now, when you use the mouse attached to a particular computer, that computer will automatically become the master and can be used to control the other system(s).

4. Information Window

The master and slave systems can display an Information Window, which indicates Input Director's status and which system currently has the input focus. To control the information window, switch to the "Global Preferences" tab. There is a "Show" push button which can be selected and deselected, and a "Reset" button to reset the Information window back to its defaults.

Press the "Show" button and the Information Window will pop-up in the bottom-right hand corner of the screen:

If the window doesn't pop-up, make sure that Input Director is enabled as a Slave or a Master. By default, if Input Director is disabled the window will remain hidden.

When input switches from one system to another, all Input Director's displaying the information window will be updated. For example:

The information window can be resized by positioning the cursor on the edge of the window (the cursor will change to a double-headed arrow), holding down the mouse button and dragging the mouse. The contents will be scaled accordingly.

The window can can re-positioned by putting the mouse anywhere in its center and then holding down the mouse button. The cursor will change to a four-headed arrow and the window can be moved to a different location.

The preferences for the Information Window are found in its context menu. To open this menu, right-click on the information window:

From here you can make the window more or less transparent, uncheck the "Hide if Input Director disabled" flag so that the window is always visible, or uncheck the "Always on Top" flag so that other windows can obscure it.

If you select "Hide window" and you change your mind, you'll need to return to the Global Preferences tab in Input Director and re-press the Information Window's "Show" button to redisplay it.

"Make input pass-thru this window" means that once enabled, any clicks on the information window will pass through it to any window or the desktop below it as if the Information Window isn't there. This means that once you have enabled this option you cannot resize, reposition, change the transparency of the Information Window, as you will not be able to right-click on it to bring up the context menu. To be able to change it again you must bring up the Global Preferences tab in Input Director and click the Information Window "Reset" button.

The idea behind the "Make input pass-thru this window" is that once you have sized and positioned the Information Window, this option can be selected and then it will not interfere with the control of other windows, icons on the desktop, etc even if it is overlaid on top of them:

5. Setting up Data Security Encryption

If you are using Input Director on a network that isn't secure or closed, you can choose to enable data security to encrypt the information sent between masters and slaves. Input Director uses the Advanced Encryption Standard cipher to encrypt data.

Enabling encryption may cause the mouse or keyboard to feel less responsive on older hardware. This is because all the input information sent across must be encrypted by the master and then decrypted by the slave before it is used. This can also impact the remote clipboard as this data will also be encrypted and decrypted on the fly.

Encryption is configured on a per-slave basis. So you can choose to only encrypt data to one slave but not another. Also, you can set a different password for each slave if you wish.
If you have multiple slaves and you want to have data security active for all of them, you need to run through the following process for each slave.

To setup encryption:

i. Open Input Director on your slave and switch to the Slave Configuration 'tab':

The unlocked padlock indicates that the slave does not have encryption active.
Press the "Change" button to bring up the 'Set Security' dialog box:

ii. Change the Encryption field to 'AES Encryption', select a key length and choose a password:

The longer the key length the more secure the data. But this also may impact a systems responsiveness on older hardware.

Input Director does not enforce password standards (such as a minimum length or a mixture of alphabetic and numeric characters). You must ensure you pick a difficult to guess password. It is recommended that a password is at least 8 characters and contains one or more non-alphabetic characters. Passwords are case-sensitive.

Click 'Okay' to activate encryption on the slave.

iii. The encryption is now active on the slave as indicated by the padlock and description:

iv. The slave configuration on the Master must now be updated:

Open Input Director on the Master and switch to the 'Master Configuration' tab:

Select the slave that now has data security and press 'Edit' to open up the 'Slave Configuration' window:

Click the 'Change' button to set the corresponding data security settings for the slave

v. Set the Encryption, key length and password to match the same as the slave's:

Click OK to save your changes

Input Director will now attempt to communicate with the slave. If the password or keylength doesn't match the slave then a message will pop-up explaining which part doesn't match. This check is also made when you click the 'Scan Slaves' button at the bottom of the Master Configuration tab

If there is a mismatch between the data security encryption set on a slave and its configuration on the master, the master will automatically 'skip' that slave.

If your slave does not have a keyboard/mouse attached to it, always change the data security on the slave first. Then update that slave's security settings on the Master.

6. Keyboard Macros

Input Director has the ability to record and playback keyboard macros. A keyboard macro is a stored sequence of keystrokes that can be played back whenever triggered. In the case of Input Director, a macro has a hotkey assigned to it and this is used to trigger the playback. Macros can be played back to the system which currently has input focus, only to slaves or the master system, to a specific slave, or to all the systems.

Macros are managed by the Input Director application on the master system. Its from here that the recording of macros, the playback and their configuration are handled.

The Input Director macro system is not designed to be a fully-fledged Windows based macro solution (there are many alternatives available, which can be found via your favourite search engine). Rather, it provides a mechanism to record keystrokes (nb: mouse movements/button clicks are not recorded) and play them back to a master or over the network to a slave system. If you have 3rd-party Macro automation software installed, it may be possible to record an Input Director macro to playback a keystroke/sequence that is a trigger to activate one of the automation software's macros.

Macros have many uses. For example, you can record a macro to startup an application (by recording a key sequence that opens the Windows Run dialog box by hitting the Win-R key combination and then typing in the name of an application to run) or controlling the audio volume (this can be handy if your speakers are attached to one of your slave systems as you can take advantage of recording macros that are then bound to that specific slave), etc. In fact, most things that can be entered via the keyboard can be recorded as macro.

To learn more about using Input Director macros have a look at the Q&A on Macros in the FAQ.

7. Key Bindings

Input Director lets you permanently bind a key to another system. This can be useful if, for example, you have speakers attached to a slave. Using key bindings, you can bind the volume up and down media keys on the master's keyboard to that slave.

Bound keys will always operate on the system they're bound to, regardless of which system is being controlled at the time.

A bound key cannot be used as part of any Input Director hotkey. If you do bind a key that is also used as part of a hotkey, the hotkey will no longer work.

8. Importing/Exporting the Input Director configuration

Input Director can export and import its configuration using an XML formatted document. Detailed information on how to do so and the structure of the document can be found here.

Where to from here?

If you have further questions about Input Director, the next port of call is the FAQ or you can contact the author.

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