Ask LH: What Can I Do With My Old Mac Mini?

Dear Lifehacker, I have a Mac Mini I no longer have a use for. I already have a media server so using it for that seems pointless. Any other suggestions on what I can do with it? Thanks, Old Mac Mini

Dear OMM,

The Mac Mini is a great piece of kit that is very versatile. If you’re already running a media server then perhaps converting it to a gaming console could be a fun project.

There are lots of MAME applications you could try that will convert your Mac Mini into a retro gaming system. Throw in a couple of cheap controllers and you’ve got a system that will keep you and others entertained for ages. It’s also a great way to revisit some classic games.

If you’re running any other Macs on your network, you could use the Mini as a networked Time Machine backup location. You’ll need to spring for the server version of Mavericks (assuming you’re already running the client version already) but it can be a handy way to keep you’re other Macs backed up without needing to install a bunch of external drives for each other Mac.

As for using it as a media server – although you already have a media server, it might be worth giving the Mac Mini a second thought. As it’s very small and quiet it makes a good system to have in the lounge-room. We’ve got a micro-PC at the moment that is controlled through a combined keyboard/trackpad that acts as the media library and handy access to a web browser when needed.

It’s worth remembering that even though the Mini is a Mac, it can run any other OS you care to throw at it (assuming it’s not an older pre-Intel model). That makes it a very versatile computer that can be used for almost anything.


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