There are many articles on the Internet that talk about what to do with your old Windows desktop, but what are some uses for an old Apple computer (desktop or laptop)?
In this article we look at five things you can do to make use of an old Mac machine, either one you inherit or one that you have sitting on a shelf because you replaced it.
Although someone has finished with this computer, it is still a serviceable and useful computer, albeit one which is not capable of running Yosemite or even Lion. It has a lot of computing power, so what can you do to harness that power in your home to upgrade your lifestyle?
1. Guest Computer
First things first, the most obvious option is a guest computer. With the addition of a cheap monitor and keyboard and mouse you can have a computer in your guest room which guests can use without giving your personal desktop a virus or delving through your holiday pictures while you aren’t looking.
iMacs and similar come with built-in monitors, of course, but if the old Mac in question is a Mac Mini (which quite a few are), then you have to source a monitor. Usable 17” monitors can be obtained second hand for less than $40 if you shop around locally. For example, there is a pawn shop we saw that sells fine used VGA widescreen monitors for around $15, and you can source the necessary USB keyboards and wireless mice from Shenzen, China, on eBay for around $5 for both.
Most old Macs, especially the Mac Minis, use Bluetooth and WiFi right out of the box, so no wiring will be required, but if you need a network port, then use an Ethernet through mains extender like this one. Also, adding WiFi and Bluetooth to devices which don’t have them is very easy and inexpensive with USB dongles that you can also get from eBay for a few bucks.
2. TV Box with Kodi
Another obvious use is to install Kodi on your machine (covered in this previous article) which turns your old Mac into something like an Apple TV or XBMC box for your TV. Add an air mouse or $3 USB PC remote, and you have a fine home entertainment centre.
3. Make a Smart TV
You can turn your non-Smart TV into an Internet TV by connecting your Mac to the TV (via the VGA connector if it has no HDMI output) and adding a wireless mouse and keyboard, or better still a remote or “air mouse” like this one.
4. Broken Screen Laptop?
Basically, if you have an old iBook or MacBook with a busted screen, you could go to the trouble and expense of getting it repaired. But what you may not know is that with an external monitor cable fitted you can actually use them closed with an external monitor and keyboard. If the external monitor is your TV, then you can use a laptop for the applications above.
5. Cue the Music
The last, and in our view the best, is to make yourself the ultimate music server.
Wipe the computer and install the latest compatible OS X you can find, then upgrade iTunes to the most recent version, and you have a network-savvy music box that can play your music via Home Sharing to all iOS devices, play Internet radio and even talk to a speaker across the room via a Bluetooth receiver like this one.
There are a ton of these Bluetooth receivers out there, and they work perfectly. For as little as $2 you can turn any PC speaker system (or even a boombox or a big home stereo system) into a Bluetooth speaker system, so the Mac can be tidied away in a cupboard.
Add a small VGA monitor and a small wireless keyboard and mouse combo unit, and you have the ultimate sound system. For extra credit, add the iOS remote app to control it from your phone.
A full-blown computer is a sad thing to waste, and if you refurbish it a little, format it and install everything from scratch, it should be fast and capable for small tasks like surfing or playing music. Remember to replace the hard drive if you can and hoover out any vents to stop it from overheating, and you should be good to go.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about uses for an old Mac, then please leave them in the comments below.