Don’t Toss Your Old Mac Mini; Repurpose It

Don’t Toss Your Old Mac Mini; Repurpose It

Usually, repurposing a large desktop PC is more trouble than it’s worth. However, because of its small size, the Mac mini can easily replace a dedicated file server, emulation station, or smart TV interface. So, rather than throwing away your old Mac mini, repurpose it!

It is worth noting that Mac minis have a much longer lifespan than the average computer. Mac minis manufactured in 2014 can run macOS Monterey, while models manufactured in 2018 can run macOS Ventura. Even if you decide not to repurpose your old Mac mini, you (or someone else) may be able to use it as a desktop computer.

Convert Your Old Mac Mini Into a File Server

Dropbox and iCloud enable you to save and access files from any device. What if you could build your own “cloud storage” solution while avoiding monthly fees? A NAS device would do the job for a few hundred dollars, but if you have an old Mac mini lying around, you should try it instead.

This procedure is surprisingly simple. All you have to do is enable File Sharing on your Mac mini by going to System Settings, Sharing, and turning it on. To add shareable folders, click the “+” button under the “Shared Files” table. (Shared folders will be visible in the “Network” section of macOS’ Finder or Windows’ File Explorer. To prevent unauthorized users from accessing shared folders, you can change your settings.)

You can also use your old Mac mini for wireless Time Machine backups. Simply right-click one of your Mac mini’s shared folders in the Sharing menu, choose “Advanced Options,” and then choose “Share as a Time Machine backup destination.” It should appear as a Backup Disk in your other macOS devices’ Time Machine settings.

Remote Login must be enabled if you want to access a Mac mini’s shared folders from outside your home. Return to your Sharing settings and enable the “Remote Login” setting. Then, specify which users can remotely access your Mac mini. You may need to enable “allow full disk access for remote users,” depending on your shared folder settings.

Keep in mind that remote access can make you more vulnerable to ransomware and hacking attempts. Important files or documents should be kept in multiple locations to ensure complete redundancy—backups can fail!

In addition, if you intend to use your Mac mini as a file server, you should provide it with a wired Ethernet connection. This will provide significantly faster upload and download speeds than a Wi-Fi connection, particularly if you access the Mac mini remotely.

Plex Works Great on Mac Minis 

Install Plex on your Mac Mini
Install Plex on your Mac Mini

Consider converting your Mac mini into a full-fledged media server if you’re interested in file servers. You could go the official route and enable the Media Sharing option in the “Sharing” settings on your Mac mini, but I recommend installing Plex.

Plex is a media server solution that lets you create your own streaming service. Simply install Plex on your Mac mini, and the software will automatically organize your movies, TV shows, and music. This media can then be accessed using the Plex web interface or the Plex app, both of which are available on all smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and streaming sticks.

The Plex app has a similar user interface to other media streaming apps, and it can be accessed outside of your home (by friends or yourself) if you pay $5 per month for Plex Pass. However, I recommend trying out the service’s free membership before upgrading to Plex Pass.

Also: 6 Best Websites To Watch Free Movies

When configuring everything, make sure to follow Plex’s installation instructions. This procedure is simple if you follow the instructions. Keep in mind that DRM-protected media, such as movies purchased from Apple, will not work in Plex (unless the DRM is removed).

Convert Your Mac to a Chromebook

If your old Mac is having difficulty running macOS, you could always convert it to a Chrome OS machine. The Chrome OS software is extremely light, allowing it to run at high speeds on “underpowered” machines. Chrome OS on a Mac has never been easier thanks to Chrome OS Flex.

The Chrome OS Flex tool, developed by Google, takes only a few minutes to install. You only need a USB drive. When you’re finished, your Mac will run a modified version of Chrome OS—it doesn’t support Android apps and isn’t compatible with certain hardware components (especially older ones, such as disc drives). Otherwise, the experience is identical to that of a “real” Chromebook.

Also: 7 Gesture Tips For Your Chromebook Trackpad

Of course, you could always use your old Mac mini to install Linux. A good Linux distribution, such as Linux Mint or Ubuntu, will do the job and provide broad hardware and peripheral compatibility. Mint is the more user-friendly of the two options, but if you aren’t an experienced computer user (or don’t have the time to troubleshoot Linux), you should stick with Chrome OS Flex.

Use Your Old Mac Mini to Play Games

Believe it or not, the Mac mini is a capable gaming machine. Your old Mac mini won’t be able to run any high-demanding games, but it’s fine for older games, newer indie releases, and emulators. This is especially true if you’ve upgraded to an Apple Silicon Mac, which is incapable of running any games.

You may have an extra HDMI port on your computer monitor that you can use to connect your old Mac mini. You could also try connecting the old machine to a TV; if you do this, use Steam’s Big Picture mode for a more TV-friendly experience.

Retroarch is recommended for those interested in emulations. It offers a streamlined (and TV-friendly) interface for all of your emulation requirements. However, Retroarch is only a front-end software for your emulators, so you’ll still need to look for a few things.

A quick aside: the Mac mini makes an excellent Minecraft server. Install the necessary Microsoft files and follow the official setup instructions.

Sell, donate it, or traded it in

Don’t know what to do with your old Mac mini? So, while it’s still useful, you should get rid of it. Consider donating it to a school or another facility—Apple does have a recycling program, but I recommend looking for local donation programs that make a difference in your community. (Search for “local school donation” or similar terms on Google.)

Don’t want to contribute? To save money on your next device, you could always use Apple’s Trade In program. Apple won’t pay you much for your old Mac mini, but it’s a quick and simple process.

If you’re dissatisfied with Apple’s trade-in offers, you can always sell your Mac mini on eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or Craigslist. Just make sure to wipe your Mac mini before selling it, as this is the only way to protect your privacy while also ensuring that your buyer can use the Mac.

It’s worth noting that you could also recycle your Mac mini. Your best bet is to find an electronics recycling or waste facility in your area using Google. If you simply throw your old Mac mini in a regular old recycling bin, it’s likely that it’ll end up in some landfill halfway around the world.