NEW USES FOR YOUR APPLE GEAR
Mac Life|March 2021
Got some old Apple devices lying around gathering dust? Don’t just throw them away! These creative ideas will breathe new life into them
ALEX BLAKE

THE MORE TECHNOLOGY we accrue, the more obsolete devices we end up with filling our drawers and cupboards. Those ancient iPhones and iPads we keep despite them being well past their sell–by date? They may come in handy one day, we reason. That old MacBook in the corner that never gets used? It just needs a new battery and it will be right as rain, we convince ourselves. We know these stories are not true — and all the while the devices go on collecting dust and losing value.

But just because a device is old, doesn’t mean it’s useless. There are many ways your old Apple stuff can be repurposed, from safeguarding your valuables as a home security camera to keeping you entertained as a dedicated eBook reader or games machine. Many of the uses for old devices require only moderate power and performance, making them ideal tasks for your geriatric gear that is otherwise past its prime.

Reusing devices that have become obsolete is also a good way to save money. Instead of shelling out tens or even hundreds of dollars on new equipment, you can often achieve the same result with a few minor tweaks to your existing gear. At the same time, it means fewer items being sent to landfill, so it’s good for the environment too.

Over the next few pages, we will show you the best ways you can give your old devices a new lease of life. Each method is easy and requires no tools, no fiddling, and no hassle. Just a few quick tweaks here and app downloads there, and you will be ready to go.

Use an old Mac as a file server

Store and send files from a central hub using the devices you already have

THESE DAYS, MANY people are going increasingly digital. What were once huge collections of DVDs, CDs and video games in physical cases can now be ripped to a Mac and served up over the internet to anyone in your house. But to do this, you need a file server.

This is a perfect role for an old Mac. File servers have very low system requirements, and even old– school Macs usually have more than enough power to serve your files throughout your house. This method is probably better suited to an old desktop Mac like a Mac mini rather than a MacBook – you need your file server to be turned on pretty much 24 hours a day, which will take a toll on battery life. A desktop Mac need not worry about this and will likely have more ports too.

Firstly, you need to install a clean version of macOS using Recovery mode. Then open System Prefs, click Sharing, and give your Mac a useful name (like File Server Mac). Select the checkbox next to File Sharing and add any relevant folders to the Shared Folders section. You can enable sharing with a Windows PC by clicking Options.

SHARING OPTIONS

Select the checkbox next to Media Sharing to allow people to access media in apps like Music or TV. Turn on Home Sharing, and “Share media with guests” if you like. There are other options that you might want to turn on, such as Printer Sharing and Screen Sharing.

That’s it for sharing options, but we’re not quite finished yet. If you are on macOS Catalina or earlier, open System Preferences and click Energy Saver. Here, move the slider under “Computer sleep” all the way to the right, where it says Never. Also, deselect the checkbox next to “Put hard disks to sleep where possible.” On macOS Big Sur, there’s no option to disable computer sleep. Instead, an app like Amphetamine will prevent your Mac from going to sleep, meaning your files are always available.

To connect to your new server, simply open Finder, then click the server in the sidebar and connect.

Securely wipe your device

macOS

>>>When offloading a Mac, you must cleanse it to keep data safe. Save vital files to another device, then reboot into macOS Recovery (hold Cmd+R as it reboots). Click Disk Utility, then View > Show All Devices. Select the drive you want to erase, then click Erase. Keep the default settings, then click Erase again. If your Mac uses a hard drive rather than an SSD, click Security Options, move the slider to the right, click OK, then Erase (this isn’t needed on SSDs).

iOS/iPadOS

>>>Erasing your iOS or iPadOS device is simple but extremely important considering how much personal data is stored on our iPhones and iPads, especially if you frequently use apps like Apple’s Health. To securely wipe your device, open the Settings app, then tap General. Scroll all the way to the bottom and tap Reset, then tap Erase All Content and Settings. You may be prompted to back up things like your iCloud data. Follow the on– screen instructions and wait for the process to complete.

Use an old iPad as a media hub

Serving up files is not just for Macs

Use an old iPad as a media hub

Serving up files is not just for Macs

One of the main benefits of the iPad is its portability, and that makes it ideal for turning into a media streaming device. Once set up, you will be able to consume your media without needing to store it on your iPad.

For this, you’re going to need Plex, a media server app that’s free to download (but we recommend unlocking it to avoid its playback limits). Once you have set up your server following our steps on the left, install the Plex Media Server app on your server Mac. Once installed, this will scan your Mac for media files; you can add more from the Libraries section in the sidebar. Make sure to create an account.

On your iPad, install the separate Plex app from the App Store. When you open the app, sign in with your account. You will now see all the media you can stream to your iPad and watch at your leisure.

HOW TO Make an iPad a dedicated e–reader

1 Clear space for content

To maximize space for more books, clear out your device by doing a fresh install of iOS (Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings), then reinstall your book apps and download your content.

2 Cut out distractions

Go to Settings > Notifications and turn off notifications for any remaining apps. Now go to Display & Brightness settings and turn on True Tone and Night Shift. Finally, open Control Center and turn on Do Not Disturb.

3 Sync to cloud storage

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