Mac mini Overview Updated June 21, 2016

Mac mini

Launched in 2005 as the first sub-$500 Mac — a key in attracting “switchers” from Windows PCs — the Mac mini ($499 and up from the Apple Store) was most recently redesigned in 2011. Made from aluminum with a black plastic bottom and back, the mini is internally akin to a MacBook Air or low-end MacBook Pro without a screen. The base $499 model has an Air-like 1.4GHz Core i5 processor with a 500GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM, while the $699 step up roughly doubles the CPU speed, hard drive space, and RAM. Measuring 7.7″ by 7.7″ by 1.4″ tall, it has four USB 3 ports, an Ethernet port, HDMI port, and twin Thunderbolt 2 ports, plus a SDXC card reader.

You supply the monitor, keyboard, and mouse/trackpad yourself, but it’s built to work with any of your existing peripherals. Many people use Mac minis in their home entertainment centers, which is possible thanks to the HDMI port for HDTV connectivty. The Mac mini was last updated in October 2014 with faster processors and new storage options. Around the Christmas holiday, Apple restored a 2TB storage option found on the previous generation of the computer. A completely new look could debut in the next couple of years, though Apple historically has left the Mac mini to age a bit, as it doesn’t want to distract attention from its higher-end computers.

115 Mac mini stories

December 2010 - April 2015

Mac mini Stories April 29, 2015

The developers behind Pixelmator have just released another free update to the Mac app, available in the Mac App Store ($29.99). Despite the bug-fix identifier, Version 3.3.2 packs some cool enhancements to support Apple’s latest technologies and hardware.

For one, as demoed in the screenshot above, Pixelmator brushes now support Force Touch so you can draw with multiple levels of pressure by pressing harder on the touchpad of your new Retina MacBook (or early 2015 13 inch Retina MacBook Pro). This is useful for quick adjustments although serious painters will still want to use dedicated drawing tablets. The update also adds support for the Photos app and a revamped Repair Tool …

expand full story

Mac mini Stories April 6, 2015

Apple currently sells more “laptop” than “desktop” Macs, but in reality, most Macs will be used substantially on flat surfaces — desks, tables, and sometimes nightstands. iPads are more lap-friendly, but also tend to get used upright, particularly for watching videos and access in the kitchen. Since I’ve spent a lot of time testing Apple device stands and mounts, I wanted to share what I’ve learned with you, so you can choose the solution that best suits your Mac, iPad, or both at the same time.

Below, I’ve hand-picked options for different types of users, starting with passive MacBook stands such as Twelve South’s BookArc for MacBook Pro ($50). Made from Mac-matching aluminum with gray rubber inserts, BookArc is designed to safely hold a MacBook Pro upright so that its ports and SD card reader are easily accessible. Twelve South also sells a smaller version of BookArc for the MacBook Air, a bigger BookArc for the Mac Pro, and an earthy version called BookArc mod for fans of wood. That’s a rarity, as most Mac and iPad stands are designed to match Apple’s products, as you’ll see inside…

expand full story

Mac mini Stories March 26, 2015


As I noted in Part 1 of How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Apple has designed the Mac purchasing process to be easy: pick a model, pick the good, better, or best configuration, hand over your cash, and enjoy your computer. Since most people get confused by tech specs — bullet points filled with numbers and acronyms — Apple downplays them in its marketing materials, leaving customers to sort through the details and figure out what most of them mean.

But these specs are really important when you’re shopping for the right Mac for your current and future needs. So I’ve created this How-To guide to walk you through each of Apple’s Tech Specs pages using clear explanations, hopefully enabling you to properly understand what you’re about to buy. Part 1 focused on the “big 5″ Mac specs you really need to know about, and this Part 2 looks at the rest — generally things that remain the same in a given model, regardless of the configuration you choose…

expand full story


Mac mini Stories March 25, 2015

Buying a Mac is designed to be easy. Apple has a handful of different models, each generally available in good, better, and best configurations. You’re supposed to start with the specific Mac model that fits your needs, pick a configuration that has the price and features you want, and walk away happy with your purchase. (Better yet, do your research online and save money after ordering from Amazon, or use the product guides off to the bottom right of this page.)

One thing Apple tends to downplay are tech specs — important numbers and acronyms that nonetheless confuse many people. Look carefully on Apple’s web site and you’ll find that there’s a Tech Specs page for every Mac Apple sells; they’re the keys to making an informed Mac purchase that will be right for your current and future needs. My latest How-To is here to walk you through each of Apple’s specs with clear explanations, so you can understand what you’re about to buy. This Part 1 discusses the “big 5” Mac specs you need to know about, and Part 2 tackles the rest

expand full story

Mac mini Stories March 4, 2015

As I’ve spotlighted over the past month, the best way to dramatically speed up an older Mac is to replace its old hard drive with a new solid state drive (SSD). The process is super-easy on MacBooks and Mac Pros, surprisingly manageable on iMacs, and challenging on Mac minis, yielding 3X to 5X speed boosts. But there’s another option that can speed things up with relatively little effort or expertise: upgrading your Mac’s RAM.

RAM upgrades are easy and cheap. You can expect to pay $90 or less for enough (Mac-safe) RAM to run OS X Yosemite without hiccups, or $180 for enough RAM to guarantee you won’t need more for years. Installing RAM generally doesn’t void your Mac’s warranty, and except for several models, the only tool you’ll need is a small screwdriver. Below, I’ll walk you through your best options.

expand full story

Mac mini Stories February 17, 2015


Submit a Tip


Submitting a tip constitutes permission to publish and syndicate. Please view our tips policy or see all contact options.

Powered by VIP