Apple is known for making some of the best computer hardware in the industry. This statement is true for older Apple devices which still work impressively well today. However, with newer, more capable devices, and Apple’s relentless mission to drop software support for Intel Macs; most of us are ready to retire our older computers. But before you throw that old Mac in the trash, here are a couple of things you could use it for.
Use your old Mac as a WiFi extender
Weak WiFi in some parts of your house? Or do you live in a basement apartment with a shared WiFi router? If that’s the case, transforming your old Mac into a fully-fledged WiFi extender will prove to be beneficial.
Before we get into the details, there are a couple of things that you need to know. First and foremost, to achieve this, Windows will need to be installed. Indeed, Mac OS does allow you to share internet from one medium to another, such as ethernet to WiFi, but you can’t share a WiFi connection as a WiFi hotspot. Which is what we are trying to achieve.
Windows, on the other hand, has a built-in virtual WiFi interface, meaning WiFi can be redistributed and shared as WiFi to other devices. This feature is highly underrated, and hopefully, Apple implements it in the future. Keep reading to learn how to install Windows and use WiFi to WiFi hotspot.
Note: If your Mac is always connected to an ethernet cable and you don't want to install Windows, Mac OS can easily distribute an ethernet connection as WiFi. To do this, head on to Settings>Sharing>Internet Sharing> Share Connection from Ethernet> To computers using WiFi. Configure your WiFi hotspot name and password and that's it.
How to install Windows 11 on any Mac
Before installing Windows 11, here’s a checklist of the things you’d need.
- 16gb USB drive
- Windows 11 iso
- Rufus app
Step 1: Download a Windows 11 ISO
You can download the Windows 11 ISO from Microsoft here.
Step 2: Download Rufus
Installing Windows 11 is extremely easy, thanks to a little application called Rufus. As we’re all aware, Windows 11 has certain requirements such as the TPM 2.0 module which need to be bypassed for a successful install. Rufus allows you to create a Windows 11 ISO image that removes these restrictions. To download Rufus, click this link. Version 3.18 was used for this project.
- Once Rufus is downloaded, open it and select the Windows 11 iso image for boot selection.
- On image option, click Extended Windows 11 installation. This will remove all restrictions, making it possible to install Windows 11 on any intel computer.
- Make sure your USB drive is inserted and selected.
- Make sure to select MBR instead of GPT. Master boot record (MBR) will install the legacy version of Windows, which works better on older Intel Macs. If you create a GPT installation, the installation will work, however, the operating system will be unstable. In many cases, sound doesn’t work and the computer will randomly reboot with BSOD errors (blue screen).
- Now click start and Rufus will create a bootable ISO flash drive.
Note: Rufus is a Windows-only app. If you don't have access to a Windows machine, use VMWare Fusion to emulate Windows in Mac OS. The app is similar to Parallels, but it's free of charge. You can download it here.
Step 3: Partition hard drive
- In Mac OS, open the Bootcamp Assistant app.
- Select “download the latest Windows support software from Apple” and “install Windows 10 or later version”.
- Now click next to partition the hard drive.
- Move the slider to allocate the space you need for Windows. This will be entirely up to you. If you intend on gaming, I’d suggest you allocate more space for Windows.
- Click install and wait for the process to finish.
- Once the hard drive is partitioned, the computer will restart. Make sure to plug in the bootable flash drive you created earlier and hold the option (alt) key for selection.
Note: You don’t need Bootcamp Assistant to Install Windows. You can use Disk Utility instead. It’s also possible to remove Mac OS completely and have Windows as the main operating system.
Step 4: Install Windows 11
- Restart Mac and hold the option key
- Select the bootable USB drive
- Windows install will load
- Select the allocated space for Windows installation
- Let Windows install. The computer might restart a couple of times. Make sure to click the option (alt) key every time it restarts and select Windows. This is to avoid booting back to Mac OS during installation.
Note: For Macs released in 2011 and earlier, a bootable MBR flash drive may not be recognized. However, an EFI (GPT) Flash drive will work, but the installed Windows operating system will be unstable. Remember, the end goal is to install the legacy version of Windows on these older Macs. To successfully do that, you would need to create a bootable DVD drive. Make sure to use a Windows 10 ISO instead of a Windows 11 ISO to create the DVD drive. The reason is Windows 11’s ISO size won’t fit on a DVD and its restrictions can only be bypassed by Rufus. (Rufus can’t create DVD drives, only bootable flash drives), therefore Windows 10 is required.
Once Windows 10 is installed, installing Windows 11 is a breeze. Boot into Windows as you normally would and plug in the Windows 11 bootable flash drive that was created with Rufus. Open the installer and follow the instructions. The computer will update and restart a couple of times. And just like that, you’ll have the legacy version of Windows 11 installed. Stable and fully operational.
Step 5: Install Bootcamp drivers
To get Wifi, Bluetooth and all other drivers working, you’ll need to install Bootcamp support software. To download, open Boot Camp Assistant in Mac OS and select “download the latest Windows support software.” Once the download finishes, boot back into Windows and install the drivers.
Note: Windows 11 will automatically install most of the drivers. However, Apple-specific drivers still require Bootcamp, therefore, it is advisable to use them.
Step 6: Switch on WiFi hotspot
Click on the notification bar in the bottom right corner to access the quick panel and click Mobile hostspot.
Right click on Mobile Hotspot to access settings and set a network name and password. Once thats done, switch on Hotspot.
How else can you repurpose your old Mac?
Get nostalgic and turn your old Mac into an emulation beast. From Nintendo 64 and Sega, to the original PlayStation, there are thousands of games to play. Of course, PlayStation 3 emulation requires a beefed-up gaming rig, but retro emulation should work perfectly.
Install Linux (Zorin OS 16)
Zorin OS is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu that aims to provide an alternative for Windows and Mac users. It has a beautiful fully-featured desktop environment with modern visuals. It’s also easy to use and comes with all the necessary software preinstalled. But where Zorin OS shines, is its simple no-hassle installation for any hardware; and it works particularly well with Mac computers.
To install Zorin OS, download the ISO here and use either BalenaEthcher if you’re on Mac OS or Rufus if you’re using windows, to create a bootable flash drive. The flash drive should be 8Gb or larger.
Once the bootable flash drive is created, turn on your Mac and hold the Option (alt) key. Select EFI, and Zorin OS will boot from the flash drive. From here, installing Zorin is a breeze. Explore the UI, and if you like it, install it.
Use Open Core Legacy Patcher to install the latest Mac OS
Opencore allows you to install the latest versions of Mac OS on unsupported Macs. It does this by replicating the behaviours of supported Macs during boot. Open core also patches older Macs to support accelerated graphics.
To download and learn more about Opencore, click this link.
Turn your old Mac into a home server
To learn more on how to turn your old Mac into a home server, check out this interesting article.
If you have an M1 Macbook, and you’d like to try Windows 11. Here’s a guide on how to install it.