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Are you wondering what goes on inside Apple’s Mac mini? Perhaps you’ve bought one and want to see what you can do with it?
Yet for the majority of us doing the majority of work we do, all that matters is whether the monitor will work when you connect it to a 2018 Mac mini. If the monitor is sold as Thunderbolt 3, USB. USB-C enabled Mac or iPad Pro can be connected via USB-C cable enclosed in the package. Dual 4K Monitor Setup. With Thunderbolt 3 Daisy Chaining Two products start rotating counterclockwise, thunderbolt cable plugging into the port on the port on the back of the second product. Cut to visual of the product connected to Mac mini Mac mini. #1 best-selling iPad app in US, Japan, UK, Germany, and 17 other countries! Duet turns your iPad or iPhone into the most advanced extra display for your Mac & PC. Developed by a team of ex-Apple engineers, Duet offers unparalleled performance and display quality - all with zero lag. Thunderbolt 3-enabled Mac can be connected via Thunderbolt 3 cable enclosed in the package Cut to visual of the product connected to MacBook Pro MacBook Pro. Thunderbolt 3-enabled Mac can be connected via Thunderbolt 3 cable enclosed in the package Cut to visual of the product connected to iPad Pro iPad Pro. USB-C enabled Mac.
If so, read on to discover everything you need to know about the Mac mini, from what it is, to how to set it up and tons of different things you can use it for, outside of a regular PC.
What is a Mac mini and what does it do?
The Mac mini is a small desktop computer made by Apple. What makes the Mac mini different from a regular computer is that it’s shipped without an accompanying screen, keyboard or mouse. As Apple likes to say, it’s “BYODKM” (Bring Your Own Display, Keyboard, and Mouse).
The reason behind the Mac mini being shipped solo, is because most of its use cases feature around using it to power up another device, as we’ll discuss in more detail below.
It also makes for more of a flexible purchase. For example, if you already have a screen, or a keyboard and mouse, you can pair these with the Mac mini rather than forking out for new ones. And if you don’t, you can easily purchase them alongside the Mac mini anyway.
The Mac mini has been around since 2005 (launched at the same time as the iPod shuffle) but its design and functionality have changed since then.
The latest 3.6 GHz Mac mini released in 2018 comes in two types of processing speed, the 3.6 GHz Mac mini Core i3 costing about $799 and the 3.0 GHz Mac mini Core i5 costing about $1099.
Specification of the Mac mini
Uses for the Mac mini
- Share presentations to screen
- Listen to music through an app like Spotify
- Share photos to a TV screen
- Access emails
- Play games
Benefits of the Mac mini
Some of the key benefits of the Mac mini include:
- The cheapest Mac Apple sells
- Built in apps such as FaceTime, iBooks, Maps, iTunes and Mail
- Multiple ports, making it more akin to 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Mac mini question buster
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 displayport-to-VGA connector instead.
Tap the shortcut you want to copy actions from. You can choose individual actions to copy, or choose them all. You’ll then be asked to Copy or Move the actions, with three choices: Same Workflow. To copy and paste using the keyboard on a Mac you need to locate the following 3 keys on the keyboard: Command key (the one with the squirly pattern on it). How to Copy & Paste on Mac. Copy and paste on a Mac is always the same, notwithstanding what Mac operating system is running. Whether it is macOS, Mac OS X, OS X, or Mac OS, on any Mac ever produced, the commands for copy and paste have always been the same. To copy the entire screen, press Command-Control-Shift-3. The screen shot will be placed on your clipboard for you to paste into another program like PowerPoint, Word, Photoshop, etc. Portion of the screen: To capture a portion of the screen, press Command-Shift-4. Mac cut and paste commands.
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.
Got a question to add? Email us: [email protected]
Extend or mirror your Mac desktop with Sidecar
- Make sure that your Mac and iPad meet the Sidecar system requirements.
- You can use Sidecar wirelessly, but to keep your iPad charged during use, connect it directly to your Mac with the USB charge cable that came with your iPad.
- Click the AirPlay icon in the menu bar on your Mac, then choose the option to connect to your iPad. Or use Sidecar preferences to connect.
If you don't see the AirPlay icon, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Displays, then make sure that ”Show mirroring options in the menu bar when available” is selected.
- Your iPad should now show an extension of your Mac desktop. You can move windows to it and use it like any other display.
- To mirror your Mac display so that both screens show the same content, return to the AirPlay menu, which is a blue rectangle while using Sidecar. Choose the option to mirror your display. This is a great way to share your Mac screen with others.
- To end your Sidecar session, return to the AirPlay menu and choose the option to disconnect. Or click the Disconnect button in the sidebar on your iPad.
Learn more about using external displays. For example, you can use Displays preferences to arrange displays so that your iPad extends the left, right, top, or bottom of your desktop.
Move a window to your iPad display
If you hover your pointer over the full-screen button of a window, you can choose to move that window to or from your iPad display. It's faster than dragging the window, and the window is perfectly resized for your display.
The sidebar puts commonly used controls on the side of your iPad screen. It includes Command, Shift, and other modifier keys, so you can choose essential commands with your finger or Apple Pencil instead of a keyboard.
Use Sidecar preferences to turn off the sidebar or change its position.
Tap to show or hide the menu bar when viewing a window in full screen on iPad.
Command. Touch and hold to set the Command key. Double-tap to lock the key.
Option. Touch and hold to set the Option key. Double-tap to lock the key.
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Control. Touch and hold to set the Control key. Double-tap to lock the key.
Shift. Touch and hold to set the Shift key. Double-tap to lock the key.
Undo the last action. Some apps support multiple undos.
Use the Touch Bar
Many apps on Mac have Touch Bar controls that make common actions even easier. With Sidecar, you get a Touch Bar on your iPad screen even if your Mac doesn’t have a Touch Bar. It works just like the Touch Bar on Mac, and you can tap its controls with either your finger or Apple Pencil.
Use Sidecar preferences to turn off the Touch Bar or change its position.
If the Touch Bar doesn't appear when using an app that offers Touch Bar controls, choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Mission Control, then make sure that “Displays have separate Spaces” is selected.
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Use gestures for scrolling and other actions
Multi-Touch gestures on iPad remain available when using Sidecar. These gestures are particularly useful with Sidecar:
- Scroll: Swipe with two fingers.
- Copy: Pinch in with three fingers.
- Cut: Pinch in with three fingers twice.
- Paste: Pinch out with three fingers.
- Undo: Swipe left with three fingers, or double-tap with three fingers.
- Redo: Swipe right with three fingers.
Use Apple Pencil
To point, click, select, and perform tasks such as drawing, editing photos, and manipulating objects on your iPad while it's extending or mirroring your Mac display, you can use your Apple Pencil instead of the mouse or trackpad connected to your Mac. You can also use it to write, sketch, and mark up documents while seeing the updates live on your Mac.
Sidecar also supports double-tap, which you can turn on in Sidecar preferences. Double-tap enables apps that support this feature to perform custom actions when you double-tap on the side of your Apple Pencil (2nd generation).
Use a keyboard, mouse, or trackpad
During your Sidecar session, you can type using a keyboard connected to either your Mac or iPad, including the Smart Keyboard or Magic Keyboard for iPad.
To point, click, or select with a mouse or trackpad, use the mouse or trackpad connected to your Mac, or use an Apple Pencil on your iPad.
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Use iPad apps
While using Sidecar, you can switch to an iPad app, then interact with that app on your iPad as you normally would. This suspends your Sidecar session until you switch back to the Sidecar app or disconnect Sidecar. The Sidecar app appears on your home screen only while using Sidecar.
Use Sidecar preferences
Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Sidecar. These preferences are available only on computers that support Sidecar.
- Show Sidebar: Show the sidebar on the left or right side of your iPad screen, or turn it off.
- Show Touch Bar: Show the Touch Bar on the bottom or top of your iPad screen, or turn it off.
- Enable double tap on Apple Pencil: Allow apps that support this feature to perform custom actions when you double-tap on the side of your Apple Pencil (2nd generation).
- Connect to: Choose an iPad to connect to, or click Disconnect to stop using Sidecar.
Sidecar system requirements
Sidecar requires a compatible Mac using macOS Catalina and a compatible iPad using iPadOS 13:
Mac using macOS Catalina
- MacBook Pro introduced in 2016 or later
- MacBook introduced in 2016 or later
- MacBook Air introduced in 2018 or later
- iMac introduced in 2017 or later, plus iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015)
- iMac Pro
- Mac mini introduced in 2018 or later
- Mac Pro introduced in 2019
iPad using iPadOS 13
- iPad Pro: all models
- iPad (6th generation) or later
- iPad mini (5th generation)
- iPad Air (3rd generation)
- Both devices must be signed in to iCloud with the same Apple ID using two-factor authentication.
- To use Sidecar wirelessly, both devices must be within 10 meters (30 feet) of each other and have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff turned on. Also make sure that the iPad is not sharing its cellular connection and the Mac is not sharing its Internet connection.
- To use Sidecar over USB, make sure that your iPad is set to trust your Mac.
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- Resolve Wi-Fi and Bluetooth issues caused by wireless interference, which can affect Sidecar performance when using Sidecar wirelessly.