Setup media center mac mini

Check for this first At this point, you should be able to turn the mini on and use the television as a monitor.

Rationalizing my choices for the Mac Mini

You will also need to pass the audio from the Mini into your system. Usually, this means connecting the audio to the television, but you may have a different setup. You can try playing a few songs out of iTunes to see if the audio is working. We will want to control the Mini using the Apple Remote exclusively.

After all, sitting on your couch watching The X-Files is not a good time to have to dig out a laptop to change the episode. However, a remote is a pretty limited interface and can only do so much.

The definitive guide to turning your old mac into a CHEAP home media center

Instead, I recommend you install and configure OSXvnc. Installation is pretty easy like with most Mac applications. Fire up the OSXvnc application and choose a password. After you authenticate, OSXvnc should be installed and running on your Mini. The one final step is to allow VNC traffic through your firewall. Just leave the UDP Port blank.

Click OK and ensure that the service is checked. The one wrinkle in this magic kingdom of remote elegance is that Macs require input devices to completely boot. Luckily, this can be overridden in System Preferences. Now, you should be able to restart without that annoying setup wizard spinning its wheels for hours and hours. They will cut off some of the picture. More recent TVs have overscan options, but some do not! Check online if this sounds like a possible issue with your model. For high quality sound, you need some good speakers connected to a receiver.

My setup: I use one with an HDMI controller to help swap between other devices while keeping the same sound output. This is a must if you plan on storing a lot of digital video media. Old macs probably have tiny hard drives compared to modern needs. A p video can take up GB of storage.

Show Notes

Not necessarily needed if you have a USB external hard drive, also not needed if you decide not to do a clean install. This part is tricky.


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You will need to find out what audio and video outputs you have on the back of your Mac, and what connectors you have on the back of your TV or receiver. Most older Macs have either a mini-DisplayPort there are multiple kinds! So you need to connect this separately. Usually, older Macs either have a 3. Most receivers can accept optical inputs, but some TVs do not. The optical option will give you the best audio quality, but RCA plugs work fine too, and can plug into almost all TVs and Receivers.

I recently ordered a mini-optical to optical cable to replace the RCA. Any wireless mouse and keyboard will work, but I recommend getting a wireless keyboard with a built-in trackpad. This keeps everything tied together in one system like a controller, and lets you pass it around to friends and family members easily. My setup: Logitech Kr. The keyboard is great. Highly recommended! Many older Macs run very slowly and have buggy operating systems. Sometimes this is due to your Mac accumulating tons of useless system and application files over the years. For this reason, I recommend that you start with a completely refreshed computer.

HOW-TO: Turn your Mac mini into a media center

This process will completely wipe your computer and reinstall OSX. A fresh install will usually run more smoothly and faster than before. For me it really made things run snappy. Hopefully you bought the right connectors! Start with the video HDMI. Connect the video out on the computer to the back of the TV. Make sure the TV is set to the right input. Drag the little boxes to arrange the two monitors to mimic how you physically have your computer and TV set up.

This will make your desktop span the two displays in almost real space. Try moving the mouse around between the two displays and see how it works. Notice how one of the monitor boxes has a white bar on it. This is telling you which monitor is the primary monitor.

Purchase a Mac Mini

But since we are going to be using this mostly as a TV and not a computer per se, we want the TV to be the primary monitor. Next connect the audio cables. Many receivers need special settings to use the optical input. Now you should have an image displayed on your TV! Go grab a coffee, take a stretch, rest your brain for a bit.

You may have noticed that although the TV is showing the beautiful glow of success, the text and interface are probably too small to read from your couch.

macOS Basic Home Server Configuration (Mac mini Server)

YouTube and other videos will still show you a p picture, but all the interface elements will be easy to read. We can enable it using some easy Unix hacking in Terminal. This quick hack made my media center experience x better and fully completed the usability of my media center Mac.