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What to Do With Your Old MacBook? 13 Useful Ways to Reuse an Old Mac

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Last updated: August 26, 2023

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Many of us have faced the dilemma of having an outdated Mac that isn’t fit for current tasks, often leaving us questioning its worth in our tech-driven lives. Such concerns usually arise from software limitations, hardware challenges, or a combination of both.

However, repurposing that old MacBook collecting dust is simpler than you think. Dive in if you’re wondering what to do with your old MacBook, and check out some practical and creative ways to repurpose your old, trusty machine.

Before We Begin

Over time, MacBooks start exhibiting performance issues, but you can extend the lifespan of your Mac with a maintenance suite like MacKeeper. With its Antivirus, Memory Cleaner, Safe Cleanup, Smart Uninstaller, and Update Tracker, you can keep your Mac in top shape and add a few more years to its life cycle.

When Is Your Mac “Too Old”?

The notion of a Mac being “too old” can vary based on individual needs, the tasks you wish to perform, and technological advancements. However, here are some general indicators to determine if your Mac has reached its twilight years:

  • 🔄 Software Updates: One of the clearest indicators is when your Mac no longer supports the latest macOS version. Apple typically provides software updates to devices for several years, but older devices eventually get left behind.
  • 🐌 Performance Issues: If your Mac is consistently slow, freezes often, or crashes, and these issues aren’t resolved even after troubleshooting or cleaning up the system, it might be showing its age.
  • 🛠️ Hardware Limitations: Older Macs may not have the hardware capabilities required for modern tasks, such as advanced graphics requirements for gaming or video editing. Also, if the cost of replacing or repairing crucial components (like the motherboard or display) outweighs the value of the computer, it might be a sign.
  • Compatibility: Newer software applications and tools might not run smoothly or may not be compatible at all with older Macs.
  • 🔋 Battery Life: If your MacBook’s battery drains quickly even after a full charge, and it’s out of warranty, replacing the battery might be costly. This could be a sign the laptop is reaching its end.
  • 📅 Support: Apple declares products as “vintage” or “obsolete” after a certain period. Vintage products are those that haven’t been sold for more than 5 but less than 7 years. Apple discontinues hardware service for obsolete products, with a few exceptions.
  • 💾 Storage Issues: Older Macs usually have HDDs and smaller storage capacities. If you’re frequently running out of space or your system is lagging due to an old HDD, it might be time to consider an upgrade.
  • 🤕 Physical Condition: If your Mac has sustained significant physical damage and is also lagging in performance, it might be more practical to invest in a new one than to repair it.

Clean Your Mac to Speed It Up With MacKeeper

MacKeeper can help clean up unwanted files, optimize your Mac’s storage, and provide a potential speed boost. Regular maintenance can ensure your Mac runs efficiently, even in its later years.

Below, I’ve shared a few ways you can use MacKeeper to clean up your Mac:

1. Use Antivirus to Scan for Malware

One of the most common culprits behind system slowdowns, unauthorized data access, and general erratic behavior is malware. Thankfully, with MacKeeper, combating these pesky invaders becomes manageable.

Here’s how to run a virus scan on Mac using MacKeeper and identify malware on your system:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and go to the Antivirus tab in the left sidebar.
click antivirus under the security section
  1. Start an instant virus scan by clicking the Start Scan button.
click start scan in mackeeper antivirus
  1. If any viruses are detected during the scan, click the Fix Items button to resolve the issues.
  2. If your system is threat-free, you’ll see a No threats found message. You can tap the Restart button to run the scan again.
no threats found in mackeeper antivirus
  1. Also, enable real-time antivirus protection to safeguard your Mac from future threats by clicking the Enable button.
click enable to allow real time protection

After configuring your security settings, MacKeeper will continue to operate in the background, scanning for threats and blocking any malicious activity.

2. Get Rid of Cache Files With Safe Cleanup

As you surf the web, use applications, and process data, your Mac gradually accumulates cache files. While these files are meant to improve your digital experience by speeding up load times, they can accumulate and clog up storage, leading to inefficiencies and unexpected lags.

To restore your system’s agility and reclaim valuable space, it’s essential to periodically clear these cache files. Here’s how to use MacKeeper’s Safe Cleanup and clear cache on your Mac to keep it running smoothly:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Once done, open MacKeeper and select Safe Cleanup in the left sidebar.
click safe cleanup under the cleaning section 3
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in safe cleanup 2
  1. Select files from the scan results to remove unnecessary cache items from your system. You can also click the Check All checkbox.
select junk files to remove or click check all 3
  1. Click Clean Junk Files.
tap clean junk files 3
  1. You will receive confirmation that the cleaning process has been completed successfully. Click Rescan to scan your Mac again.
click rescan in safe cleanup 2

3. Keep Apps Up to Date With Update Tracker

Mac applications are frequently updated to introduce new features, fix bugs, and enhance security. Using outdated software not only means missing out on these enhancements but can also expose your system to vulnerabilities.

While keeping track of every app update might seem overwhelming, MacKeeper can make it simple. Here’s how to use MacKeeper’s Update Tracker to update apps on macOS:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper.
  2. Launch MacKeeper and click the Update Tracker tab in the left sidebar.
click update tracker under performance 1
  1. Click Scan for Updates.
click scan for updates 1
  1. MacKeeper will scan your Mac for outdated apps and display a list. To select an app, check the little box next to it or click Check All to select all apps.
select individual apps or click check all 1
  1. Click Update All.
click update all in update tracker 1
  1. Wait for the updates to complete. This can take a while, depending on the number and size of updates.
wait for the updates to complete
  1. You’ll get an Update Completed notification. Click Rescan if you want to update more apps. 
click rescan to run the scan again 1

4. Uninstall Unnecessary Apps Using Smart Uninstaller

Over time, we tend to accumulate apps on our Macs, many of which we rarely use or have forgotten about entirely. These unused apps not only consume precious storage space but can also eat up system resources, leading to suboptimal performance.

Manually sifting through each app can be tedious, but MacKeeper offers a smarter way to declutter. With Smart Uninstaller, you can identify and remove those redundant applications. Follow these steps to uninstall unused apps on your Mac using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. After installation, launch MacKeeper and click the Smart Uninstaller in the left-hand menu.
click smart uninstaller in the left sidebar 2
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in smart uninstaller
  1. Select the applications you want to delete from the list and click Remove Selected.
select the applications you want to remove and click remove selected
  1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up to confirm the deletion.
click remove on the pop up window in smart uninstaller 2
  1. MacKeeper will uninstall the apps and remove associated files and folders. You will get a Removal Completed notification. If you want to scan your Mac again, click Rescan.
click rescan in smart uninstaller

5. Free Up RAM With Memory Cleaner

As you multitask on your Mac, running multiple applications or browsing through numerous tabs, your system’s RAM (Random Access Memory) can quickly get filled up. When RAM is overloaded, your Mac starts to slow down, making even the simplest tasks feel like a drag.

MacKeeper’s Memory Cleaner offers a swift solution to free up RAM, enhancing your system’s responsiveness and overall performance. Here are the steps to use Memory Cleaner to free up RAM on your Mac:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  2. Open MacKeeper and click Memory Cleaner under the Performance tab.
select memory cleaner under performance 4
  1. Click Open.
click open in the memory cleaner 4
  1. Click Clean Memory.
click clean memory 4
  1. It will clean your Mac and free up available memory. You can see how much memory it freed under Last Cleanup.
memory cleaned after a cycle 2

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides scanning your system for viruses, updating your apps, uninstalling unwanted apps, freeing up RAM, and clearing cache on your Mac, MacKeeper can remove login items, delete duplicate files, and remove annoying ads. Check out my detailed MacKeeper review to learn about these features.

If you tried all the above steps and your MacBook is still running slow or showing other signs of wear, it is officially “too old” and you can move on to steps to reuse it in different ways.

What to Do With Your Old MacBook?

The most straightforward solution for your old MacBook is to repurpose it as a dedicated media station. By clearing its storage and solely using it for streaming or watching downloaded movies and shows, you breathe new life into it without complex modifications.

Having revitalized your MacBook for entertainment, you might wonder what other transformations are possible. Let’s dive deeper into more innovative and functional ways to give your old Mac a renewed purpose.

13 Ways to Reuse an Old Mac

As technology rapidly evolves, it’s easy to feel that our older devices are becoming obsolete. But before you consider relegating your old Mac to the back of a drawer, consider this: with a touch of creativity and resourcefulness, that old MacBook can serve numerous valuable purposes.

From enhancing your home’s digital ecosystem to even catering to nostalgic needs, the possibilities are endless. Let’s explore some of the best ways to use an old Mac and unlock its hidden potential.

1. Use the Old Mac as a Secondary Monitor

Use the Old Mac as a Secondary Monitor

Having a dual-monitor setup can enhance productivity, offering extended screen real estate to manage multiple applications, windows, or documents simultaneously. If you’ve purchased a new Mac or another computer, don’t be too quick to discard or stow away your old MacBook or iMac. Instead, repurpose it as a secondary display.

Using tools like Apple’s built-in Target Display Mode (for compatible iMacs) or third-party software like Duet Display or Air Display, you can seamlessly connect your old Mac to your primary device. This is particularly useful for video editing, graphic design, or even for simpler activities like browsing while working on a document.

Here’s how to use your old Mac as a second display:

  1. Ensure you have a cable that supports DisplayPort.
  2. Connect the cable from your old Mac to your new Mac.
  3. On your new Mac, click the Apple icon and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Select Displays.
click displays in system settings
  1. Click the Arrangement tab. (Only visible when you connect a display).
  2. Your old Mac should be listed as a possible display. Adjust as necessary.

2. Set Up Your Mac as a Temporary Wi-Fi Hotspot

Set Up Your Mac as a Temporary Wi Fi Hotspot

In situations where you’re without a reliable internet connection—perhaps during travel or in certain areas of your home or office—an old MacBook can come to the rescue. Every Mac, regardless of its age, can share its wired or wireless connection with other devices.

Here’s how to set up your Mac as a Wi-Fi hotspot:

  1. Connect your old Mac to your router using an Ethernet cable.
  2. Position the old Mac near the Wi-Fi dead zone.
  3. On your Mac, go to System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Sharing.
click general and select sharing
  1. Toggle on Internet Sharing.
toggle on internet sharing
  1. Configure the Wi-Fi hotspot settings as needed.

This will turn your old Mac into a temporary Wi-Fi hotspot and nearby devices can connect to this hotspot, providing them with internet access.

3. Use the Old Mac as a Web Server

Use the Old Mac as a Web Server

Did you know your old Mac has the potential to become a local development hub or even host your own website? Turning your old Mac into a web server can be an exciting project for both budding and seasoned web developers.

To repurpose your Mac into a web server, you will need to install specialized software like Apache, NGINX, or Microsoft IIS. Following that, configuration is necessary to enable it to deliver the content you wish to make available on the internet. Redirect your domain name’s DNS to your old Mac’s IP address, and your web server will be up and running.

For the more adventurous, with the right network configurations and security measures, your old Mac could even serve as a live web or FTP server. This repurposing offers a cost-effective solution for web hosting and development endeavors.

4. Turn Your Mac Into a Chromebook

Turn Your Mac Into a Chromebook

If the performance of your old Mac has dwindled over the years, a lightweight operating system might be the perfect remedy. One such option is the Chrome OS, which powers Chromebooks. This OS is known for its minimalistic design, fast performance, and reliance on cloud-based applications.

With tools like CloudReady by Neverware, you can install a version of Chrome OS on your old MacBook. Post-installation, the device will function like a Chromebook, allowing you to access web applications, Google Drive, and other Google services with ease.

5. Use Your Old Mac as a Media Viewer

Use Your Old Mac as a Media Viewer

If you consume media content ranging from movies and TV shows to digital art and interactive presentations, your old Mac can be the perfect dedicated device for such media consumption.

By setting up your old MacBook in a strategic location—be it the living room, bedroom, or even kitchen—you can use it as a dedicated media station. With apps like VLC, Kodi, or even iTunes, you can organize and play your entire media library without any distractions.

This repurposing ensures your primary device remains free for work or other tasks while your old Mac handles entertainment.

6. Run Plex on Your Old Mac

Run Plex on Your Old Mac

For those who have an extensive collection of movies, TV shows, music, and photos over the years, turning your old Mac into a dedicated Plex server can be a game-changer. Plex is a media server application that organizes and streams your media content, making it accessible from any device within your network and even remotely.

By installing Plex on your old MacBook, you transform the device into a centralized media hub. Once set up, you can stream content to various devices such as smart TVs, tablets, smartphones, and even other computers.

The intuitive interface categorizes and presents your media with metadata, including cover art, synopses, and ratings. This repurposing maximizes the use of your old Mac and enhances your media consumption experience.

7. Turn Your Mac Into a Classic Video Game Emulator

Turn Your Mac Into a Classic Video Game Emulator

Nostalgia has a special place in the hearts of many, especially when it comes to classic video games. If you fondly remember the days of pixelated characters and chiptune soundtracks, your old Mac can be the gateway to revisiting those memories.

There are a plethora of emulators available for macOS, enabling you to play games from consoles like the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Atari, and many more. By installing programs like OpenEmu or RetroArch, you can aggregate various gaming platforms into one unified interface on your old Mac.

Load up your favorite ROMs, connect a USB or Bluetooth game controller, and you’re set to dive into the golden age of gaming.

8. Use It to Run Older macOS Versions

Use It to Run Older macOS Versions

Sometimes, progression in technology means leaving behind certain software or tools that were essential in earlier operating systems. If you have specific applications or software that are no longer compatible with the latest macOS versions, your old Mac can be the perfect time capsule.

You can keep or reinstall an older version of macOS on your old MacBook for these purposes:

  • 💾 Legacy Software: Some applications never got updates for newer macOS versions. Your old Mac can be a dedicated machine to run these tools.
  • 🛠️ Development and Testing: For developers, having a machine with an older OS can be invaluable for testing compatibility and functionality.
  • 🕰️ Nostalgia: Sometimes, it’s just enjoyable to revisit the look and feel of an older macOS, experiencing the evolution of Apple’s operating system firsthand.

9. Install Linux on It

Install Linux on It

For tech enthusiasts and those seeking to learn more about different operating systems, turning your old Mac into a Linux machine can be a rewarding endeavor. Linux, an open-source operating system, offers a wide range of distributions (or ‘distros’) tailored for different needs and preferences.

Here’s why you might consider this transformation:

  • 🌱 Variety of Choices: From Ubuntu to Fedora to Debian, you can pick a distro that suits your taste and requirements.
  • 🚀 Performance Boost: Linux can be less resource-intensive than macOS, giving your old Mac a noticeable performance lift, especially with lightweight distributions like Lubuntu or Xubuntu.
  • 🧠 Learning Experience: It’s an excellent opportunity to familiarize yourself with the Linux environment, its command-line utilities, and its unique software ecosystem.
  • 🔒 Security: Linux is often lauded for its robust security features. Installing it on your old Mac can provide a secure browsing or development environment.

By installing Linux on your old MacBook, you not only repurpose the device but also open doors to a whole new world of computing, full of customization, learning, and exploration.

10. Make a Network-Attached Storage Out of Your Old Mac

Make a Network Attached Storage Out of Your Old Mac

Data storage and accessibility are paramount in our digital age. Rather than investing in a dedicated Network-Attached Storage (NAS) device, your old Mac can efficiently serve this purpose, acting as a centralized storage hub for your home or office network.

Here’s how your Mac can shine in this role:

  • Centralized Storage: Store all your important files, media, backups, and more in one place, making it easily accessible from any device on the network.
  • Backup Solution: Use it as a dedicated Time Machine backup station for other Macs, ensuring that all your devices are routinely backed up.
  • Media Server: Combined with software like Plex (as mentioned earlier), your NAS Mac can stream media to any compatible device.
  • File Sharing and Collaboration: Set up shared folders for family members or colleagues, facilitating easy file exchange and collaboration.
  • Expandability: Hard drives can be connected via USB or Thunderbolt ports, allowing you to expand storage as needed.

Setting up your old MacBook as a NAS maximizes its utility and offers a cost-effective solution for network storage, backups, and media streaming, centralized for easy access and management.

11. Use It for Home Automation

Use It for Home Automation

The concept of smart homes has rapidly evolved, turning everyday living spaces into interconnected hubs of automation and convenience. Your old Mac can play a pivotal role in this, becoming the brain of your home automation system.

Here’s how your old Mac can thrive in a home automation setup:

  • 🏠 Control Center: With software like Homebridge or Indigo, transform your Mac into a hub that interfaces with various smart devices, from lights to thermostats to security cameras.
  • 🗣️ Voice Commands: Integrate voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant to control devices or run automation sequences using voice commands.
  • ⏰ Scheduled Tasks: Automate tasks like turning off lights at a specific time, adjusting the thermostat based on weather data, or playing music when you arrive home.
  • 🌐 Remote Access: Monitor and control your home devices from anywhere in the world. If you forgot to switch off something or want to check on your security cameras, your old Mac can provide you that remote gateway.
  • 📹 Security and Surveillance: Pair it with security cameras and motion sensors to create a surveillance system, recording footage and sending alerts for any suspicious activities.

Leveraging your old MacBook or iMac for home automation not only provides a use for the aging device but also enhances your living experience, offering a seamless blend of comfort, security, and modern tech conveniences.

12. Trade in an Old Mac

Trade in an Old Mac

Rather than letting your old Mac gather dust or take up space, consider trading it in. Many retailers and manufacturers, including Apple itself, offer trade-in programs where you can get credit or discounts towards a new purchase. This can be a win-win situation as it allows you to declutter while making your next tech investment more affordable.

If you’re considering an upgrade or simply want to switch to a different device, trading in your old Mac can provide valuable credit, all while being an eco-friendly choice that contributes to sustainable tech consumption.

13. Sell or Recycle Your Old MacBook

Sell or Recycle Your Old MacBook

Even if your old MacBook isn’t useful for you anymore, it could still hold value for someone else. You can sell or give away your old MacBook. Selling it can offer some financial returns while recycling ensures it doesn’t end up as e-waste. Both options contribute to a sustainable tech lifecycle.

How to Prepare Your Mac for Sale

If you decide to sell or give away your Mac, you need to do a few things first. You must prepare it correctly to protect your data and provide a clean slate for the next user. Here are a few things you must do before selling or giving away your Mac:

  1. Back up your Mac: Ensure all your data is saved. Back up your Mac’s data using Time Machine or your preferred backup solution to keep a copy of everything.
  2. Deauthorize and Sign Out of Your Accounts: This includes iTunes, iCloud, iMessage, and other services. It ensures the new user won’t have access to your accounts and vice versa.
  3. Erase Your Mac’s Drive: Navigate to Disk Utility and erase your Mac’s hard drive. This step deletes all data, making sure your personal files and information are wiped clean.
  4. Install macOS: After erasing, reinstall a fresh version of macOS. This ensures the new user has a clean operating system to start with.

By following these steps, you ensure your old MacBook is ready for a new home, devoid of any personal remnants, and prepared for its next chapter, whether it’s in a new user’s hands or responsibly recycled.

Reuse Your Old MacBook to Keep It Out of the Landfill

Now that you know no expiry date can stop you from benefiting from your old Mac, you can use it in different eco-friendly ways. Whether you’re turning it into a media hub, diving into the world of Linux, or simply selling it for someone else to cherish, each choice contributes to a sustainable tech ecosystem.

Here are a few more tips if you want to learn more about your MacBook:

  • If you’re unsure whether your Mac is too old for a replacement, find out what year is your MacBook Pro or Air before buying a new one.
  • You can also go through my macOS Compatibility Checker to find out what macOS your Mac can run. It can help determine if your Mac is “too old” for a replacement.
  • Also, learn about all MacBooks ever released to find out interesting facts about your machine. You may have a vintage item you wouldn’t want to sell.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are old MacBooks worth anything?

    Yes, old MacBooks are worth it and often retain value. Their build quality, brand reputation, and capability mean you can resale, trade-in, or repurpose them. Depending on the model and condition, they can fetch a good price in the second-hand market or be valuable for other tech-related tasks.

  2. How do I wipe my old MacBook?

    To wipe your old MacBook, first back up your data. Then, restart the device and hold down the Command ⌘ and R keys. In the macOS Utilities window, select Disk Utility, choose your main drive, and click Erase. Finally, reinstall macOS to have a clean system.

  3. Should I throw away my old MacBook?

    No, you shouldn’t throw away your old MacBook. Instead, consider recycling, trading it in, or selling it. MacBooks contain materials harmful to the environment, so proper disposal or repurposing ensures eco-friendliness while potentially offering monetary or trade-in benefits. Always erase personal data before parting with your device.

  4. Does Apple accept Mac trade-ins?

    Yes, Apple accepts Mac trade-ins. It offers a trade-in program to exchange your old Mac for credit towards a new purchase or receive an Apple Store gift card. If your device isn’t eligible for credit, Apple will recycle it for free, ensuring environmentally responsible disposal. Always check Apple’s official website for current trade-in details.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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