I’m writing this article on an iMac located next to a monitor connected to my home server (Dell Inspiron 530s), and my gaming system (Asus G72). The desk has only enough room on it for two monitors which makes this setup a necessity. The home server is rarely accessed except in cases where the iTunes shared library crashes, or a new external drive is added.
Typically, this setup includes a KVM (Keyboard, Video and Mouse) switch that allows you to jump from system to system with a hotkey combination or the press of a button. While this is the best solution, especially if you don’t want to have multiple keyboards and mice laying around, there is a way around it with some monitors when you’re in a pinch.
If your monitor has two inputs, typically one VGA and one DVI or HDMI port, you are usually able to connect one system to each of these ports. Monitors with three ports may or may not link the DVI and HDMI as a single input.
Once you have them connected, you can browse the monitor’s menu and switch inputs from digital to analog and vis-versa. This creates a virtual KVM for the video signal. This works in much the same way your digital television handles having a DVD player, gaming console, Blu-Ray, and cable access connected. The big downside is that this part of a monitor’s menu is usually a hassle to go through until you get the process down.
If you don’t have an extra keyboard and mouse, there are software solutions available to allow you to avoid a hardware solution for that as well.
Using this process, you might be able to get away with not having to spend money on a KVM if you really don’t need to switch between systems very often.