What to Do With an Old MacBook

Is it worth selling or trading in?

New MacBooks come out every few years, often with enticing new features or a whole lot more power than the previous generation. That kind of release schedule may lead you to upgrade when your current MacBook still has years of useful life left, or you may prefer to hold off on an upgrade until Apple no longer offers macOS updates for your machine. Either way, the big question is what to do with the old MacBook.

Here are five options.

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Use it As a Media Viewer

MacBooks traditionally have great screens, so you may want to consider hanging on to your old one after you upgrade just for streaming media. Streaming video from Apple TV, Netflix, and other sources doesn’t take a lot of power, so even older MacBooks can handle it pretty well. You will run into problems if the MacBook is so old that modern web browsers no longer support it. However, web browsers typically continue supporting old macOS versions for two or three years after Apple officially ends support.

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Install Linux on Your Mac

Every year, Apple releases a new version of macOS, and old hardware gets left in the dust quickly. You may be able to install the latest version on your MacBook even if it isn’t officially supported. You’ll eventually find that your MacBook just can’t run any officially-supported version of macOS. You may want to consider installing Linux on your Mac when that happens.

Linux system requirements vary from one distribution to another, but you can typically run Linux on MacBooks that are no longer capable of running the latest version of macOS. It isn’t the same as macOS, and Linux can take some getting used to, but this is a great way to extend the life of a MacBook. You may even find that your MacBook boots and runs faster after switching to Linux.

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Turn Your MacBook into a Chromebook

Chrome OS is a Linux-based operating system, but it’s very lightweight and focused on web browsing, email, and streaming tasks. The system requirements aren’t as strict as macOS, so you may be able to install Chrome OS on your Mac after the Mac is no longer capable of receiving official updates. After installing Chrome OS, you can also use a full version of Linux on a Chromebook if the basic web-based functionality isn’t enough.

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Use Your MacBook as Network Storage

If your MacBook has a large storage drive, you can load it up with movies, music, TV shows, and other media and use it as a media server. To use your old MacBook as a file server, you need to connect it to your network then set up file sharing. Connect it directly to your router with an Ethernet cable for the best results.

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Set Up Your MacBook As a Temporary Wi-Fi Hotspot

The traditional way of dealing with Wi-Fi dead zones is to set up a Wi-Fi extender or install a mesh Wi-Fi system, but you can also use your old MacBook. You will need to connect your MacBook to your router with an Ethernet cable, place it in an area where you need Wi-Fi coverage, and adjust settings in macOS to share your MacBook's internet connection. It's a great option if you need to expand your Wi-Fi network to a guest room temporarily or you want to avoid paying for a Wi-Fi extender.

Are Old MacBooks Worth Anything?

MacBooks hold value a lot better than other laptops, so most old MacBooks are at least worth something. If your MacBook is only a few years old and it’s in good shape, then it will likely command a hefty price on the second-hand market. If it’s older, but it still runs, then you may be able to get a few hundred dollars for it at least. MacBooks that still can run the latest version of macOS sell for more, but selling an old MacBook isn’t the only thing you can do with it.

Should I Throw Away My Old MacBook?

Even if your MacBook is old and out of date, throwing it away is rarely the best option. Your MacBook may be useful for its parts, a vintage Apple collector may be interested in it, and you can always turn it into an electronics recycler as a last resort.

Before you sell or give away your old MacBook, check out your other options. There are many valuable things you can do with an old MacBook.

How Do I Get Rid of My Old MacBook?

If you aren’t interested in creative uses for an old MacBook, your options are to trade it in, sell it, give it away, or turn it into an electronics recycler. Check the Apple trade-in program first, and see what they’re willing to give you. Then check places like eBay and Craig’s List to see what kind of value your MacBook has on the second-hand market. From there, you can decide if to trade it in or sell it yourself.

FAQ
  • Where can I recycle my old MacBook for cash?

    Best Buy, Staples, CanitCash, and SellBroke recycle old computers for cash. Many places that recycle computers also recycle other electronics like keyboards and batteries.

  • How do I update my old Macbook?

    You can update your old Mac running macOS High Sierra (10.13) or earlier through the App Store. For Macs running macOS Mojave (10.14) or later, go to System Preferences > Software Update.

  • How do I wipe my old MacBook?

    Reset your MacBook to completely erase your files and restore the device to factory defaults. If you don't have access to your computer, you can wipe your Mac remotely.

  • How do I speed up my old MacBook?

    To speed up your MacBook, free up storage space, close apps you don't use and turn off apps that launch automatically. After an update, consider upgrading your RAM or downgrading the OS if your Mac is struggling.

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