What should I do with my old Mac?
“I just got a brand new MacBook, what should I do with my old Mac?”
This is a very common question I get, and I typically give one of four answers depending on who’s asking the question. I’ll go through each choice and hopefully they’ll give you some ideas:
1) Setup the old Mac next to your new one and use mouse and keyboard sharing
For power users and professionals, this is nearly always my first suggestion. Using something like Synergy or Teleport, you can share a single mouse and keyboard across multiple Macs, effectively giving you not just two screens, but two displays with full computing power behind them. Having dual displays dramatically increases productivity and with the extra processing power having two computers is kind of the best of this world. Use your older less powerful Mac for things that are not so processor intensive and more mundane, like email, web browsing, instant messaging, etc, and use your new more powerful Mac as the primary machine for your more complex tasks, be it developing, video editing, photo manipulation, whatever. Try this out, you can thank me later.
2) Repurpose the older Mac as a media center or file server
This is a bit more complex, but if you’ve got some time on your hands it can be very rewarding to setup a file server using file sharing or a media center using something like Boxee or Plex/XBMC. If you’re setting up a media center, just remember the types of content you can playback are dependent on the Mac’s hardware capabilities, be sure to check if your Mac can play HD video if you’re looking to play high quality video files. Ready to jump in? Check out how to setup a Mac Mini as a media center.
3) Give the older Mac to a friend or family member
Maybe your kid would like a Mac in their own room, or maybe your Mom is battling viruses and malware on her clunker of a Windows PC. Fixing up a Mac and giving it to someone else is not only a nice gesture but because of their stability and ease of use, it just may reduce those family tech support calls you inevitably get because you’re the computer guy in the household.
4) Sell your old Mac
If all else fails, or you just want to recoup some of the costs of your new purchase, sell the old Mac. Mac’s retain their resale value amazingly well, far more than any other PC. Craigslist is a great way to sell just about anything you have laying around and Mac’s are no exception, but if you live in a smaller community you might not have much luck. EBay is the other option since you can ship to buyers globally, and while they take a commission of the sale, I’ve generally found that used Mac’s sell for more on eBay than they do on Craigslist. Just do a quick scan of ads on both sites to see the price you can expect to get for your used Mac.
[ above MacBook Pro image from Flickr ]