Keyboard/Mouse sharing

I have the Apple BT keyboard, trackpad, and mouse with my 2019 iMac which will shortly get replaced by either a mini or a Studio depending on which way I decide to go for home/travel Lightroom use. Either of the desktops will have a Studio monitor attached and be paired with my existing BT keyboard/mouse/trackpad.

If I end up going the mini route and let it do home file server/print server/assorted minor things work…then I’ll just shift the Studio display to my 14 M1 Pro MBP for Lightroom…but that means I’ll want to use the external BT input devices with the MBP for the next couple hours instead of the mini sitting under the monitor that will be temporarily connected to the MBP.

I’ve never tried this…so the question is how much of a hassle is it to use the same BT input devices between 2 computers that are all located within BT range? Is it a matter of unpairing/repairing every time or just hitting Connect in the BT Sys Prefs for the one I’m currently trying to use? And if the latter…once they’re connected to the MBP how do I get them to reconnect to the Mini when the MBP is back in the other room and the photo editing session is over?

I was going to just buy the Studio for photos at home…but doing photography stuff on a single computer rather than having both a main and travel Lightroom catalog with the attendant movement of catalog files and images back and forth is easier but then there’s the peripheral swapping to worry about.

In a similar (but not exactly the same) setup as you’re describing, I have found that it works, but it can get a little fiddly with Apple input devices. I tried it for a while with the latest versions of the Magic Keyboard and the Magic Mouse between two fairly recent Intel MacBook Pros. The connects and disconnects didn’t always seem clean to me. Sometimes it took two or three tries to get it to work.

Now I use a Logitech MX Master mouse that has a button on it that allows for quick switching among three devices, and that works very smoothly. I have it set to switch between those two MacBook Pros and an iPad Air. The switch is consistently instant for me.

I’ve been shopping around lately for a mechanical keyboard, and many of the Bluetooth models have that same three-device feature.

I don’t know enough about how Bluetooth works to understand what the difference is between connecting/disconnecting via the Mac’s Bluetooth menu and doing the same thing via Logitech’s dedicated button. In neither case am I pairing and unpairing. They’re both re-establishing connections with devices that had already been paired.

Is Logitech’s button just an easier way to make the exact same thing happen as when I use the Mac’s Bluetooth menu, or is the Logitech mouse using three separate “channels” or something? Based on how much easier it is to do with the Logitech mouse, I’d guess it’s the latter.

When using the Logitech mouse after pairing, tapping the channel select button will cycle through the channels, changing the active screen without even lifting the hand from the mouse (or keyboard). The MX Keys keyboard has individual selections buttons for selecting the active channel. No additional interaction with Bluetooth preferences is required.

Each selected channel of the Logitech Keyboard or Mouse appears to macOS Bluetooth as a separate device. Once the selected channel is paired with macOS instance’, selecting the next channel will allow pairing to another device.

User Experience:
For years I have had two main macOS machines – a multiple screen Mini and a MacBook Pro. A few years ago the Logitech M720 Triathlon was on sale, it fit my large hands so I bought one. This removed at least one USB cable from my life. When I saw the convenience, I also bought the MX Keys keyboard, also with three bluetooth channels. Since I have the first MacBook Pro with the keyboard, my recent discovery of a bad “v” key did not stop me from using my MacBook Pro.

At my alternate office up north, my office is a card table in front of a large screen TV. I leave an OWC Travel Dock there to connect a splash-resistant Microsoft keyboard and the large screen TV display. I have the M720 configured for channel 1 = home mini and chanel 3 = MacBook Pro. Channel 2 is used for various other devices, depending on the need.

Historical Note:
I gave up on switching for USB cabled Mice and Keyboards because it was never reliable and was yet one more device to configure. Discovering the Logitech multiple pairing capability was a life-simplifying experience.