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A Beginner’s Guide to Apple’s Mac Mini

Here's your ultimate introduction to the Apple Mac mini

 Apple’s Mac mini is exactly that: a mini Mac. It’s a small, portable desktop computer that can turn any screen into a Mac-powered smart computer. A computer that can be used for digital signage. And we love it. 

If you want to know everything  about the Mac mini–  from what it is to how to set it up (and why it’s better than a regular PC)– then read on.

What is a Mac mini and what does it do?

The Mac mini is a small desktop computer made by Apple. And that’s all it is. The Mac mini is shipped without an accompanying screen, keyboard or mouse; as Apple likes to say, it’s “BYODKM” (Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard, and Mouse).

It may seem odd at first, yet the Mac mini is mostly used to power up another device making it more of a flexible purchase. For example, if you already have a screen, keyboard and mouse, you can pair these with the Mac mini instead of purchasing new ones (although you can opt for the Mac mini to arrive with them).

Surprisingly, the  Mac mini has been around since 2005 – launched at the same time as the iPod shuffle.Yet as with everything Apple do,  its design and functionality have changed quite a bit since then.

Mac mini M1 2020

Prior to the launch of 2020’s Mac mini M1, you could get the 2018 Apple Mac mini  in two types of processing speed: the 3.6 GHz Mac mini Core i3 ($799) and the 3.0 GHz Mac mini Core i5 ($1099). 

But back to the Mac mini M1: this is Apple’s very first System-on-chip device. And it happens to only be $699, with an even better processor than its pricier predecessors. 

OK, so there are some compromises. The memory is capped at 16GB and you can no longer use external graphics cards (eGPUs). 

To see the difference between the Mac Mini M1 2020 and previous generation Mac Mini 2018, check out the specification comparison below.

Specification of the Mac mini

Uses for the Mac mini

Just as with any computer, there are hundreds of uses for a Mac mini. But due to its portable nature, the Mac mini is perfect for: 

  • Sharing presentations to screen
  • Listening to music through an app like Spotify
  • Digital signage
  • Sharing photos to a TV screen
  • Accessing emails
  • Playing games

Benefits of the Mac mini

Some of the key benefits of the Mac mini include:

  • It’s the  most affordable Mac that Apple sells
  • It has built-in in apps such as FaceTime, iBooks, Maps, iTunes and Mail
  • There are multiple ports, making it more like a PC than a media device
  • Apple quotes that with fourth-generation Intel Core processors, the device is able to “keep up with computers twice its size”
  • Wi‑Fi and Bluetooth
  • Easy setup for a keyboard, mouse or screen
  • The perfect size to use as the centre of a “digital home”

How to set up a Mac mini

Here’s how to get your Mac mini running, from getting it out of the box to using it for a purchase such as connecting to your home TV.

Before you begin setup some of the questions you may want to consider include:

  • What screen will you be connecting to? You’ll need a desktop or a TV screen to get your Mac mini up and running
  • How will you connect to the screen? Depending on what screen you’re connecting to you may need a converter lead
  • Do you have a Wi-Fi connection? You’ll need this to set up some of the Mac mini features
  • How will you control the Mac mini? You’ll likely need either a keyboard and mouse combo or an Apple remote

Once you’ve made your decision and purchased any additional items you need, here’s how to get set up.

  1. Add power

Plug the power adaptor into your Mac mini and plug the other end into your power outlet. Press the power button on the back of the Mac mini.

2. Attach to your TV or monitor

Connect your Mac mini to your TV or desktop. The Mac mini comes with a HDMI-to-DVI adapter for connecting to a monitor's DVI port, which will allow you to connect to an Apple monitor.

If you want to connect to a TV screen you may need to purchase a mini-displayport-to-VGA adapter which will allow you to connect your Mac mini to a standard analog monitor, projector, or LCD that uses a VGA connector or cable.

3. Connect to Wi-Fi

Once turned on, the setup guide should take you through a few simple steps, including setting up a Wi-Fi connection.

4. Sign in with your Apple id

This will give you access to the App Store and and will link your iCloud account if you wish to connect to your Mail, Photos, Calendar and so on.

5. Begin using your Mac mini

From here, you can begin using your PC or TV screen as a computer, using the desktop to search for apps, open web pages and more.

What can you do with your Mac mini?

Want to ensure you’re getting the most from your Mac mini device? Here are some ideas on how you can use it:

1. Access apps on a TV screen

The Mac mini is a great way to take everything you’d usually do on your phone or laptop and access it on your TV screen. This could be sharing photos with a room, opening mail or accessing your documents.

2. Use any screen as your computer

The Mac mini is super light, which means you can take it anywhere, plug it into a desktop and you’ll have a powerful computer. This allows you to work from anywhere, or set up shop in any location where there’s a monitor and Wi-Fi available.

3. Set up digital signage with the Mac mini

The Mac mini is a great way to turn any screen into a digital sign. This allows you to pre-schedule and setup content to show on your digital screen such as social media feeds, presentations, travel updates, news feeds and more. Read the full guide on setting up digital signage with the Mac mini here.

4. Create a home viewing centre

With the Mac mini and a screen, or desktop, you can create a home viewing centre that allows you to watch movies, surf the internet and listen to music. Via streaming apps such as Netflix, or even through movies you’ve bought on iTunes, you can easily set up movies to play on any screen. You can also use music apps available in the Apple App Store or use Safari to get online.

5. View and share photos

The Mac Mini includes a SDXC card slot so you can simply remove the memory card from your camera and insert it. This allows you to view photos on a monitor, or share them with the room from your TV screen.

Apple Mac mini FAQs

Can you use any monitor with a Mac mini?

The Mac mini doesn’t come with a monitor, but you can connect it to one using one of the ports on the back of the device. Using the right adapter, you can connect the Mac Mini to any computer screen with a VGA port. The Mac Mini ships with a HDMI-to-DVI adapter but it’s only really Apple monitors which use DVI, so for a regular monitor you may need a HDMI-to-VGA or mini display port-to-VGA connector instead.

How do you turn on a Mac mini?

Simply press the power button on the Mac mini box.

Can you use any keyboard with a Mac mini?

Most keyboards and mouses can be used with the Mac mini by connecting them using the USB port. For Bluetooth devices, connect the USB dongle to the Mac mini using the USB port.

For more information on which hardware ScreenCloud supports, or to find the best option for you, compare devices here.

Product

A Beginner’s Guide to Apple’s Mac Mini

Here's your ultimate introduction to the Apple Mac mini

 Apple’s Mac mini is exactly that: a mini Mac. It’s a small, portable desktop computer that can turn any screen into a Mac-powered smart computer. A computer that can be used for digital signage. And we love it. 

If you want to know everything  about the Mac mini–  from what it is to how to set it up (and why it’s better than a regular PC)– then read on.

What is a Mac mini and what does it do?

The Mac mini is a small desktop computer made by Apple. And that’s all it is. The Mac mini is shipped without an accompanying screen, keyboard or mouse; as Apple likes to say, it’s “BYODKM” (Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard, and Mouse).

It may seem odd at first, yet the Mac mini is mostly used to power up another device making it more of a flexible purchase. For example, if you already have a screen, keyboard and mouse, you can pair these with the Mac mini instead of purchasing new ones (although you can opt for the Mac mini to arrive with them).

Surprisingly, the  Mac mini has been around since 2005 – launched at the same time as the iPod shuffle.Yet as with everything Apple do,  its design and functionality have changed quite a bit since then.

Mac mini M1 2020

Prior to the launch of 2020’s Mac mini M1, you could get the 2018 Apple Mac mini  in two types of processing speed: the 3.6 GHz Mac mini Core i3 ($799) and the 3.0 GHz Mac mini Core i5 ($1099). 

But back to the Mac mini M1: this is Apple’s very first System-on-chip device. And it happens to only be $699, with an even better processor than its pricier predecessors. 

OK, so there are some compromises. The memory is capped at 16GB and you can no longer use external graphics cards (eGPUs). 

To see the difference between the Mac Mini M1 2020 and previous generation Mac Mini 2018, check out the specification comparison below.

Specification of the Mac mini

Uses for the Mac mini

Just as with any computer, there are hundreds of uses for a Mac mini. But due to its portable nature, the Mac mini is perfect for: 

  • Sharing presentations to screen
  • Listening to music through an app like Spotify
  • Digital signage
  • Sharing photos to a TV screen
  • Accessing emails
  • Playing games

Benefits of the Mac mini

Some of the key benefits of the Mac mini include:

  • It’s the  most affordable Mac that Apple sells
  • It has built-in in apps such as FaceTime, iBooks, Maps, iTunes and Mail
  • There are multiple ports, making it more like a PC than a media device
  • Apple quotes that with fourth-generation Intel Core processors, the device is able to “keep up with computers twice its size”
  • Wi‑Fi and Bluetooth
  • Easy setup for a keyboard, mouse or screen
  • The perfect size to use as the centre of a “digital home”

How to set up a Mac mini

Here’s how to get your Mac mini running, from getting it out of the box to using it for a purchase such as connecting to your home TV.

Before you begin setup some of the questions you may want to consider include:

  • What screen will you be connecting to? You’ll need a desktop or a TV screen to get your Mac mini up and running
  • How will you connect to the screen? Depending on what screen you’re connecting to you may need a converter lead
  • Do you have a Wi-Fi connection? You’ll need this to set up some of the Mac mini features
  • How will you control the Mac mini? You’ll likely need either a keyboard and mouse combo or an Apple remote

Once you’ve made your decision and purchased any additional items you need, here’s how to get set up.

  1. Add power

Plug the power adaptor into your Mac mini and plug the other end into your power outlet. Press the power button on the back of the Mac mini.

2. Attach to your TV or monitor

Connect your Mac mini to your TV or desktop. The Mac mini comes with a HDMI-to-DVI adapter for connecting to a monitor's DVI port, which will allow you to connect to an Apple monitor.

If you want to connect to a TV screen you may need to purchase a mini-displayport-to-VGA adapter which will allow you to connect your Mac mini to a standard analog monitor, projector, or LCD that uses a VGA connector or cable.

3. Connect to Wi-Fi

Once turned on, the setup guide should take you through a few simple steps, including setting up a Wi-Fi connection.

4. Sign in with your Apple id

This will give you access to the App Store and and will link your iCloud account if you wish to connect to your Mail, Photos, Calendar and so on.

5. Begin using your Mac mini

From here, you can begin using your PC or TV screen as a computer, using the desktop to search for apps, open web pages and more.

What can you do with your Mac mini?

Want to ensure you’re getting the most from your Mac mini device? Here are some ideas on how you can use it:

1. Access apps on a TV screen

The Mac mini is a great way to take everything you’d usually do on your phone or laptop and access it on your TV screen. This could be sharing photos with a room, opening mail or accessing your documents.

2. Use any screen as your computer

The Mac mini is super light, which means you can take it anywhere, plug it into a desktop and you’ll have a powerful computer. This allows you to work from anywhere, or set up shop in any location where there’s a monitor and Wi-Fi available.

3. Set up digital signage with the Mac mini

The Mac mini is a great way to turn any screen into a digital sign. This allows you to pre-schedule and setup content to show on your digital screen such as social media feeds, presentations, travel updates, news feeds and more. Read the full guide on setting up digital signage with the Mac mini here.

4. Create a home viewing centre

With the Mac mini and a screen, or desktop, you can create a home viewing centre that allows you to watch movies, surf the internet and listen to music. Via streaming apps such as Netflix, or even through movies you’ve bought on iTunes, you can easily set up movies to play on any screen. You can also use music apps available in the Apple App Store or use Safari to get online.

5. View and share photos

The Mac Mini includes a SDXC card slot so you can simply remove the memory card from your camera and insert it. This allows you to view photos on a monitor, or share them with the room from your TV screen.

Apple Mac mini FAQs

Can you use any monitor with a Mac mini?

The Mac mini doesn’t come with a monitor, but you can connect it to one using one of the ports on the back of the device. Using the right adapter, you can connect the Mac Mini to any computer screen with a VGA port. The Mac Mini ships with a HDMI-to-DVI adapter but it’s only really Apple monitors which use DVI, so for a regular monitor you may need a HDMI-to-VGA or mini display port-to-VGA connector instead.

How do you turn on a Mac mini?

Simply press the power button on the Mac mini box.

Can you use any keyboard with a Mac mini?

Most keyboards and mouses can be used with the Mac mini by connecting them using the USB port. For Bluetooth devices, connect the USB dongle to the Mac mini using the USB port.

For more information on which hardware ScreenCloud supports, or to find the best option for you, compare devices here.

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