Thunderbolt Share lets you control two PCs via one cable

Intel Thunderbolt Share
Image: Intel.

Transferring files locally between computers is about to get much easier thanks to a technology called Thunderbolt Share.

Intel recently announced the connectivity feature, one that enables fast device-to-device file transfer and the ability to securely control one PC while using another. It’s seen as a helpful solution for people who regularly swap between a laptop and a desktop PC, or hotdesk at work.

Instead of using cloud storage or using external hard drives, you could transfer files between PCs quickly using Thunderbolt 4 and 5 cables. It even has a potential gaming use case, letting streamers easily handle the video production on one computer while gaming on their main device.

Various Thunderbolt docks already enable a plug-and-play solution to peripheral management, like keyboards and mice. However, Intel claims Thunderbolt Share adds another level of connectivity. By downloading the corresponding app, you benefit from even more than simply consolidating PC accessories.

Consider this scenario: you have a desktop PC that stays in one spot, and a laptop you take with you regularly. If the PC connects to a Thunderbolt dock – managing all the display, webcam, keyboard and mouse inputs – you could plug your laptop into the dock, or directly into the desktop, and seamlessly access each peripheral. Not only that, but you could also access each device’s files or even control the other device as if you were using it natively.

What devices can use Thunderbolt Share?

Annoyingly, Thunderbolt Share’s compatibility is a bit convoluted. It’s not immediately backwards compatible with existing Thunderbolt 4 and 5 devices. Instead, at least one device involved in a connection must be specifically licenced to use Thunderbolt Share – which is entirely up to device manufacturers.

At the very least, not every device needs such a licence. You could use one licenced PC with another non-licenced PC or Thunderbolt dock, and it will work. Still, it’s a barrier to entry that ultimately adds a layer of cost.

Various companies are already on board, with Acer, Belkin, and Lenovo among the first set to support Thunderbolt Share. Expect to see the technology in the wild later this year.

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