Can I use both a wireless mouse and keyboard without plugging in another USB receiver?

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My question is prompted by wanting to buy the ideal wireless mouse and keyboard combo for my laptop. Finding exactly what I wanted proved impossible. Either the mouse had all that I required in terms of functionality, but the keyboard didn’t or vice versa. I could have bought separates, but that would have meant two USB ports occupied by receivers and being a laptop, USB ports are at a premium. Is it possible to buy wireless mice and keyboards that connect to the PC without the need for a USB receiver?  After all, my wireless printer doesn’t have one and that works over very long distances. So why can’t a mouse and keyboard?

Answering this question may get a bit complex. You have several different options to consider when it comes to buying a mouse and keyboard combination that you like.

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Connecting to a network vs. your computer

First, you mentioned that you have a wireless printer. I’ll have to clarify something here.

Printers like yours have a completely different wireless protocol. If your printer connects through WiFi, it’s connecting to your network, not directly to your computer. The advantage to this is that any computer signed into your network can connect to the printer.

When it comes to a keyboard and mouse, you don’t want that to happen. You want those to associate directly with your computer.

As you may know, WiFi is a form of networking. It’s the moral equivalent of having a cable strung between the printer and your computer or the printer and your router. It’s not the same kind of wireless protocol that we’re using with devices like keyboards and mice. These  usually use either one of two different short-range protocols.

Bluetooth

Check to see if your laptop natively supports Bluetooth. This is a short range wireless protocol that’s specifically designed for devices like mice, keyboards, headphones, and other things.

If your laptop natively supports Bluetooth, you already have a receiver built-in. All you then need to do is get a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard that meet your needs.

The only drawback is that if you have an older laptop, it may not have Bluetooth.

Manufacturer-based wireless protocol

Many manufacturers actually have their own short-range wireless protocol as well. The trick is to make sure that you’re using a keyboard and mouse that use the same protocol.

Now as it turns out, many manufacturers, like Logitech, have actually standardized so you can have a single receiver that will work with any of their devices. In fact, my desktop computer has a wireless keyboard and mouse (both from Logitech) and I use a single USB receiver plugged into a USB port.

So that’s definitely something to research. They don’t necessarily have to be purchased as a pair; they just have to be purchased as having this compatible wireless technology from the manufacturer. I use Logitech as an example, but I’m pretty sure that other keyboard and mouse manufacturers are doing it as well.

 

20 comments on “Can I use both a wireless mouse and keyboard without plugging in another USB receiver?”

  1. A workaround might be to get a USB hub that you can plug both USB receivers into. This will solve the problem of using 2 USB ports on your laptop and even add a couple or more additional ports.

    • I agree with the hub solution, but if I had it to do over I’d make sure it was a powered hub. I bought mine to run an external DVD burner which wouldn’t work with two ports on the same unpowered hub. Not enough juice.

  2. You can still use Bluetooth devices even if your laptop (or desktop) doesn’t natively have it. All you need to do is buy a Bluetooth dongle. Macs machines have had Bluetooth by default for several years, even their desktops) but not all Windows machines come with it. A Bluetooth dongle only costs a little over $10 (not including shipping).

  3. The issue with using a hub on a laptop is the fact that if this person takes the laptop with them on the road frequently, the hub is one more piece of annoyance that has to come with them. The Bluetooth dongle is likely the best solution, install and forget, and the laptop can be lugged around as is, without having to remove it. You can also pair other devices with it as well.

    • I thought about the extra bulk of the hub when I wrote that suggestion, but that applies more to home use of a laptop. Most, if not all, people who travel with a laptop don’t lug around an external keyboard. If they do, a pocket hub would be a small addition. I personally use a USB hub as a docking station. I keep my keyboard and mouse dongle, external drives, speakers, webcam, scanner etc plugged into it all the time. When I use my laptop at home, I just plug in the USB hub and monitor, and it becomes a desktop computer.

  4. The Logitech Unifying system has been my choice for a couple of years now – you have a small USB receiver that can be left in the laptop as it is very shallow – in fact I now use this system with 2 laptops a netbook and my desk top. – I can then use any mouse and any keyboard with any system without without much hassle

  5. I just bought a gaming mouse that has large docking/receiver station, and it is quite uncomfortable for a laptop. Is it possible to use wireless usb hub and plug in the receiver into it ? Would it work ?

    • Unfortunately, in this case, your best option is probably to find the dongle or get a new mouse. It would very likely cost as much or more to replace the dongle.

  6. I have a Microsoft Surface Book with limited USB Ports. I purchased a Bluetooth Mouse to use and also own a Blue tooth headset/microphone. My question is, can I connect both devices and use them simultaneously using the Bluetooth connection or can I only use one Bluetooth device at a time?

  7. I just spent 4 hours trying to understand this. I have wireless mouse-keyboard combo which came with a SUPPOSEDLY bluetooth receiver. Now the dongle has been lost and my combo became useless. Then an idea occurred to me: if my combo connects via bluetooth and my laptop has built-in bluetooth receiver (surely i transfer files to my mobile phone regularly), then why do I need an additional dongle to connect my mouse or keyboard? I hit Google for a few minutes and to my great disappointment, i found out that even if the combo was advertised to me as a bluetooth mouse-keyboard, actually the combo doesn’t use bluetooth at all. It instead uses a custom wireless technology developed by the manufacturer i.e. I can’t use my mouse-keyboard without the dongle (receiver)! STRANGE WORLD WE LIVE IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I’ve seen a few Bluetooth mice and keyboards. None of them ever came with a dongle. The main idea of using Bluetooth is to avoid having to use a dongle.

  8. Mark Jacobs (Team Leo)
    June 8, 2017 at 8:16 am
    I’ve seen a few Bluetooth mice and keyboards. None of them ever came with a dongle. The main idea of using Bluetooth is to avoid having to use a dongle.

    Mark, I want to set up a bluetooth keyboard and mouse to use with an Intel® Compute Stick STK2m3W64CC (and no dongle). Also want to use with a Sony XBR65X850E Smart LED TV. Both Stick and TV have built in bluetooth. What keyboard/mice have you used with no dongle. And how do you identify it as not having a dongle when shopping for one? Thanks for any info.

    • Any Bluetooth device, keyboard or mouse wouldn’t require a dongle, as long as you have Bluetooth in your machine. I’ve never used one, as they are more expensive than normal wireless mice and keyboards, and desktop machines don’t always come with Bluetooth.

  9. Hi! Mark,
    I plan on getting a Dell XPS 13 Laptop and I already have a HP 27 Inch Monitor. So I will not be using the Dell’s monitor but the big HP as a monitor. As the Dell too has limited USB inputs I wanted a laptop & mice combo which can work on Bluetooth with out me using a USB dongle just for the combo.

    Can you recommend a Bluetooth Keyboard & Combo which does not need a USB dongle and will connect only via Bluetooth to my Dell XPS 13.

    Thanks in advance.

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