Flip it right into a file server, a emulation machine, or perhaps a Chromebook!

The Mac mini on a wooden desk.
Josh Hendrickson / Evaluate Geek

Repurposing an enormous desktop PC is often extra hassle than it’s price. However because of its compact dimension, the Mac mini can simply take the place of a devoted file server, emulation station, or sensible TV interface. So, as an alternative of dumping your outdated Mac mini, repurpose it!

Observe that Mac minis are likely to final quite a bit longer than the common pc. Mac minis made in 2014 can run macOS Monterey, and fashions from 2018 work with macOS Ventura. Even in the event you determine to not repurpose your outdated Mac mini, there’s an honest probability that you just (or another person) can nonetheless use it as a desktop pc.

Flip Your Previous Mac mini Right into a File Server

The Mac mini with an Ethernet cable.
Josh Hendrickson / Evaluate Geek

Providers like Dropbox and iCloud let you save and entry information from any gadget. However what in the event you may create your individual “cloud storage” answer and keep away from month-to-month charges? A NAS device would get the job achieved for just a few hundred {dollars}, however in the event you personal an outdated Mac mini, it’s best to strive utilizing it as an alternative.

This course of is surprisingly straightforward. All you must do is enable File Sharing in your Mac mini—open System Settings, navigate to Sharing, and activate File Sharing. From right here, you possibly can press the “+” button underneath the “Shared Recordsdata” desk so as to add shareable folders. (Shared folders will seem within the “Community” part of macOS’ Finder or Home windows’ File Explorer. You possibly can alter your settings to forestall unauthorized customers from accessing shared folders.)

Moreover, you should use your outdated Mac mini for wireless Time Machine backups. Merely right-click one in all your Mac mini’s shared folders whereas within the Sharing menu, choose “Superior Choices,” and click on “Share as a Time Machine backup vacation spot.” It ought to seem as a Backup Disk within the Time Machine settings in your different macOS units.

If you wish to entry a Mac mini’s shared folders outdoors of your private home, you must allow Remote Login. Return to your Sharing settings and activate the “Distant Login” choice. Then, specify which customers can remotely entry your Mac mini. (You could have to allow “permit full disk entry for distant customers,” relying in your shared folder settings.)

Observe that distant entry can improve your vulnerability to ransomware and hacking makes an attempt. Essential information or paperwork ought to be saved in a number of places to make sure full redundancy—backups can break!

Additionally, in the event you use your Mac mini as a file server, it’s best to give it a wired Ethernet connection. That’ll present a lot sooner add and obtain speeds than a Wi-Fi connection, particularly in the event you entry the Mac mini remotely.

Mac minis Are Excellent for Plex

The Plex logo over an outdoor TV antenna.

In the event you’re fascinated about file servers, take into account turning your Mac mini right into a fully-fledged media server. You may go down the official route and allow the Media Sharing choice in your Mac mini’s “Sharing”  settings, however I counsel installing Plex.

Plex is a media server answer that lets you construct a customized streaming service. All you must do is set up Plex in your Mac mini—from there, the software program will mechanically arrange your motion pictures, television exhibits, and music. This media can then be accessed from the Plex internet interface or the Plex app, which is accessible on all smartphones, tablets, sensible TVs, and streaming sticks.

The Plex app feels just like different media streaming apps, and it may be accessed outdoors of your private home (by your folks or your self) in the event you pay $5 a month for Plex Move. (That mentioned, I counsel testing the service’s free membership earlier than unlocking additional features with Plex Move.)

Just remember to comply with Plex’s set up directions when setting all the things up. This course of is fairly straightforward, however provided that you comply with the directions. Keep in mind that DRM-protected media, together with motion pictures bought from Apple, don’t work in Plex (until you remove the DRM).

Flip That Mac Right into a Chromebook

A Mac mini running Chrome OS.
Apple, Google

In case your outdated Mac has hassle operating macOS, you possibly can all the time flip it right into a Chrome OS machine. The Chrome OS software program is extremely light-weight, that means that it really works at excessive velocity on “underpowered” machines. And because of Chrome OS Flex, operating Chrome OS on a Mac has by no means been simpler.

The Chrome OS Flex device, which is developed by Google, solely takes a couple of minutes to arrange. All you want is a USB drive. When you’re achieved, your Mac will run a modified model of Chrome OS—it doesn’t assist Android apps, and it isn’t suitable with sure {hardware} elements (significantly older stuff, like disc drives). However in any other case, it’s the identical expertise you’d count on from a “actual” Chromebook.

In fact, you possibly can all the time set up Linux in your outdated Mac mini. A great Linux distro like Linux Mint or Ubuntu will get the job achieved and provide extensive compatibility for {hardware} and peripherals. Mint is the extra user-friendly of those two choices, however realistically, it’s best to follow Chrome OS Flex in the event you aren’t an skilled pc person (or don’t have the time to troubleshoot Linux).

Use Your Previous Mac mini for Gaming

Two hands holding an Xbox controller.
Andrej Antic/Shutterstock.com

Imagine it or not, however the Mac mini is a reasonably strong gaming gadget. Your outdated Mac mini in all probability can’t run  any super-demanding titles, but it surely’s good for older video games, newer indie releases, and emulators. (That is very true in the event you’ve upgraded to an Apple Silicon Mac, which might hardly run any video games.)

There’s an excellent probability that your pc monitor has an additional HDMI port, which you should use in your outdated Mac mini. You may additionally strive hooking up the outdated machine to a TV—in the event you go down this route, think about using Steam’s Big Picture mode for a extra TV-friendly expertise.

Those that are fascinated about emulations ought to strive Retroarch. It supplies a streamlined (and TV-friendly) interface for your entire emulation wants. That mentioned, Retroarch is only a front-end software program in your emulators, so that you’ll nonetheless have to hunt just a few issues down.

And a fast facet observe; the Mac mini makes for an important Minecraft server. Set up the relevant files from Microsoft and comply with the official guide to get all the things arrange.

Promote, Donate, or Commerce In That Previous Factor!

A Mac Mini standing on its side on a dark background.

Can’t discover a use in your outdated Mac mini? Nicely, it’s best to eliminate it whereas it’s nonetheless helpful. Contemplate donating it to a college or one other facility—Apple has a recycling program, however I counsel in search of native donation packages that make significant change in your neighborhood. (Merely Google “native college donation” or comparable search phrases.)

Don’t need to donate? You may all the time undergo Apple’s Trade In program to save cash in your subsequent gadget. Apple gained’t provide you with a ton of cash in your outdated Mac mini, but it surely’s a fast and simple course of.

In the event you aren’t proud of Apple’s trade-in presents, you possibly can all the time promote your Mac mini on eBay, Fb Market, or Craigslist. Simply make sure to wipe your Mac mini earlier than promoting it, as that is the one option to defend your privateness and be sure that your purchaser can truly use the Mac.

Observe that you possibly can additionally recycle your Mac mini. An electronics recycling facility or waste facility is your greatest wager—yow will discover one in your space on Google. In the event you simply dump your outdated Mac mini in an everyday outdated recycling bin, there’s an excellent probability that it’ll find yourself in some landfill midway throughout the globe.

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