How to use Two Keyboards on One Computer: 3 Easy Steps


Sometimes one just isn’t enough. Two keyboards are arguably twice as good as one, duh, but that’s not always the case. This article will cover not only how to use two keyboards at once but why you might even want to.

Using two keyboards on one computer isn’t too hard to setup. With most Operating systems it should be a simple plug and play. You will need a unifying receiver if you’re trying to use two Bluetooth keyboards on one computer. If you’re using a virtual machine, two keyboards on one computer aren’t possible without advanced coding, most people should avoid this.

It sounds rather complicated, not only to make it possible but to even use two at once, but that’s not quite true. There are some HUGE benefits to using two keyboards at once whether you are working or playing. Let’s get right into it.

How to use Two Keyboards at Once
Image by: rogerclark@rogerclark

Is it Possible to use Two Keyboards on One Computer?

First of all, we need to cover the basics, is it even possible to use two keyboards at once? We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t! There are some limitations, of course, sometimes a particular program or game simply won’t allow double input for simplicity’s sake or to avoid cheating.

Sometimes, you can’t use two keyboards simply because the OS you are running doesn’t support that. I’m going to, rather safely, assume that this isn’t going to be a problem for you because the odds of you running something other than IOS, Linux, or Windows is slim to none.

You can look at hardware limitations, do you have enough USB slots available? You’d assumably need at least one. You could logically have one keyboard even if you have no free USB slots because you are connected via Bluetooth.

Here comes your next limitation, having two keyboards connected via Bluetooth isn’t likely to work. If you are asking whether it’s possible for you specifically to use two keyboards at once I’d say that you would be surprised how easy it is.

You aren’t going to be typing on both keyboards at once, one with each hand, you are likely going to use one specific keyboard for one function or program. A good way of looking at it is simply having a huge number of extra keys at your disposal. It may take some getting used to, of course, but it’s nothing that a little practice can’t overcome.

The Benefits of Having Two Keyboards?

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There are a huge amount of benefits to having two keyboards connected to your PC. We don’t have time to go over all of them so we will just focus on the most important ones.

Increase your Productivity

First of all, productivity. You arguably could become twice as productive with access to twice as many keys. We both know that’s not quite how it works but increased functionality is undoubtedly one of the biggest benefits.

Have the Right Keyboard for the Right Task

Depending on how your desk is laid out, you could essentially have one keyboard allocated to one monitor depending on which one you are facing. You might also find that you prefer one keyboard for one function and another for a different function.

For example, some keyboards are pretty amazing for gaming but generally suck for typing. Perhaps you have one keyboard set aside for playing the game and another for typing in chat. Maybe you have one keyboard for programming and another for replying to emails.

Multiplayer Games from One Device

The most fun benefit, I think, is the ability to play games two-player from one device. This is somewhere that consoles have always excelled over computers. Two people can easily sit down and play a two-player game on PS4 or Xbox, doing that on pc isn’t quite as easy.

Unless, of course, you had a second “controller” in this case a second keyboard. If you are playing some sort of co-op game then being able to see the same screen can make coordination and teamwork SO much easier.

Are There any Problems with Having Two Keyboards?

There are only a few drawbacks to using two keyboards in all honesty. Simply because if you didn’t have a reason to be using two keyboards then you just wouldn’t do it. If you do need two keyboards there isn’t really an alternative besides using some sort of extra NumPad device like a Nostromo.

That being said, just because there are no alternatives doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to moan about the imperfections of a dual keyboard set up. Let’s talk about logistics.

Having two keyboards costs twice as much, it takes up twice as much room on your desk, it takes up twice as many USB slots (potentially) and twice as much computing power. That’s still not a huge amount of processing power but it is technically a 100% increase so it should be mentioned.

I’ll also be honest and mention that it can genuinely get a little confusing trying to keyboard hop constantly. Having one keyboard for gaming and one for other functions sounds like a good idea but I can guarantee that every now and again you’ll try using the wrong keyboard for the wrong thing and mess something up. It’s just the cost of doing business and is nothing to worry about.

If you are planning on using one keyboard for programming and another for emails and you get them mixed up be prepared to go digging through your code for some obscure syntax error that you’re undoubtedly going to create out of thin air.

This drawback is certainly going to become less prominent the more often you use two keyboards, it’s just muscle memory at the end of the day. You don’t have to bind a certain keyboard to a certain monitor but it often helps.

How to use Two Keyboards on One Computer

So, we have established that you can indeed use two keyboards at once. We have covered the pros and cons so you can decide for yourself whether or not you even want to use two keyboards, now let’s look at how to use two together.

Let’s start with the simple answer. You can just plug another keyboard in. If you are using Windows it’s as simple as that, your computer can detect a second keyboard and even register keystrokes as having come from a different device. This means you can bind a function to a specific key on a specific keyboard.

You might run into a little trouble if you try and use one, or two, Bluetooth keyboards as windows can sometimes struggle to differentiate between the two. You may find that using your wired keyboard will cause your Bluetooth connected one to disconnect occasionally.

The problem is far more common with two Bluetooth keyboards. If for some reason your pc simply isn’t registering the second keyboard you may need to update your drivers.

If you are lacking for USB ports you are going to want something called a multi or unifying receiver. Essentially what this device does is gives all of your wireless devices a focus point for their Bluetooth connection. Instead of plugging in a singular wireless receiver, they all connect with the same one.


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Some brands like Logitech have their own unifying receiver meaning you can connect multiple keyboards and mice to the same USB port. You can get universally unifying receivers that allow all sorts of devices/manufacturers to connect to the same receiver.

This only helps if you are using wireless keyboards, of course. With wired ones, you may end up needing to use a USB fork or splitter but they aren’t always super reliable.

Here is where things get tricky if you are attempting to run a virtual machine on your pc and thus want one keyboard for your pc and one for the VM (assuming it’s Linux) you will need to do some complex coding in some cases. Ubuntu really struggles with separating external keyboards.

I would honestly tell you to just avoid the entire situation because you are going to drive yourself insane. If it works, great. If not, I’d cut your losses and call it a day.

Using both keyboards for both the PC and the VM interchangeably is going to be fine. Mac and iOS are far easier because Mac works off of a multi-user system. This means not only could you have to users logged in at once but you can use two mice and two keyboards.

If you are struggling to use two keyboards at once you should update your software and restart your computer, as it should certainly be possible.

Conclusion

Learning not only how to make two keyboards possible for you but how to use them efficiently is a great way to maximize your productivity. Even if you only use the second keyboard occasionally you will still find your functionality increases so much.

Twice as many keys, twice as many function buttons, twice as many potential macros, and twice as much fun. Whether you are gaming on your own or with a friend having two keyboards can definitely be better than one.

If you are having trouble using multiple keyboards when you are sure that you are able, for example, two wired keyboards on windows OS then you should look for easy soft fixes.

Update your pc, restart your pc, update drivers, those types of quick fixes. Only once this fails should you resort to contacting tech support. Good luck with your second keyboard – you probably don’t need a third!

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