Apple Mac mini in pink light
Jack Skeens/Shutterstock

The Mac Mini is one of Apple’s most interesting products. The company doesn’t release new models often, but they still get great software support. If you have an old Mac Mini, there are some cool things to do with it.

Since Apple doesn’t have the Mac Mini on a yearly release schedule like some other Mac computers, there are surprisingly old ones still getting updates. For example, the 2014 Mac Mini received macOS Monterey (but won’t be getting Ventura.)

Even if you don’t already have an old Mac Mini lying around, you can get older models on eBay for relatively cheap. Regardless of how you came upon your aging Mac Mini, we’ll help you put it to good use.

Transform It Into a Media Server

A Mac Mini Core 2 Duo
Apple

One of the most common uses for old computers—not just the Mac Mini—is to turn them into a home media server. Think of it like having your own, local version of Netflix or Spotify.

Essentially, you put all of the movies, TV shows, and music you want on the Mac Mini. Then you set it up as a server so you can stream all of that content to other devices on your network. Could be your TV, smartphone, or other computers.

This is a great solution because it allows you to own your own media while still having the benefits of streaming. The only limitation is how much storage space your Mac Mini has, but that can easily be expanded.

RELATED: How to Set Up a Home Media Server You Can Access From Any Device

Turn It Into a TV Set-Top Box

Apple Mac mini with M1
Apple

Servers are cool, but you could go an even more direct route and literally hook the Mac Mini up to your TV.

The upside to this setup is you have tons of content at your fingertips. It’s a literal computer attached to your TV. You’ve got a web browser, apps, and access to anything you can store on the Mac Mini. It’s a lot more powerful and flexible than an Apple TV.

The downside is it’s a literal computer attached to your TV. The interface is not made for a remote. You’ll need a Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad if you want to control the Mac Mini from your couch. Using a web browser from across the room can be annoying.

Get iMessage on Android

iMessage on Android.
Joe Fedewa / How-To Geek

iMessage is a big deal in the smartphone world. It’s a feature that iPhone users love and Android users can’t use. However, if you have a Mac Mini and an Android phone, you can pull it off.

How is that possible? The Messages app on macOS supports iMessage. So, what you need is a server on your Mac Mini that can act as a relay between the Messages app and your Android phone (or Windows PC).

Thankfully, there are some really nice apps that do just that. It works surprisingly well once you get through the first-time setup process.

Install Linux on It

Linux Penguin Mascot Tux on blue
Larry Ewing and The GIMP

If your old Mac Mini is showing its age, you may want to put that computing power to use with a different operating system. There are plenty of lightweight Linux distros that can breathe new life into aging hardware.

In fact, one of those Linux distros—technically—is ChromeOS. You can turn your Mac Mini into a Chromebook, which will offer very good performance. ChromeOS doesn’t need much to run smoothly. It’s a bit strange to have ChromeOS running on Apple hardware, but it’s better than letting your Mini go to waste.

RELATED: What Is a Linux Distro, and How Are They Different from One Another?

Trade It In

Apple Mac mini 2020
Apple

Lastly, this may not be as “cool” as the other tips, but it could result in you saving some money. Apple has a buyback program for old devices. You can get credit toward a new Apple device, an Apple gift card, or have it recycled for free.

An old Mac Mini could be worth up to $450. Apple can even help you transfer all your data if you’re upgrading to a new Mac. Head on over to Apple’s trade-in website to see how much your model is worth. You’ll need the device’s serial number and other details.


Whether it’s an old Mac Mini or an old phone, aging gadgets often have more to offer us. You just need to get a little creative and re-think what they can offer. Don’t add your device to a landfill if you don’t have to.

RELATED: How to Safely Dispose of an Old Phone

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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