My old MBP late 2013 is running just fine - I wonder what I should do with it

I guess I’m keeping my new MBP M1 Pro 14 inch, despite my harping about uneven light leakage under the space bar. Sound is fine now with Boom 3D. (Side note: I didn’t take advantage of any TidBits discount for Boom 3D because they were already running so many “flash sales” that it was already under $15).

Anyway, my old MBP has just 512 GB SSD, and since I brought my external Photos library internal to my new MBP’s 2 TB SSD I changed the settings on my old MBP to “optimize disk storage” and everything seems to be there, like on my iPad Pro and iPhone, synced with my 2 TB iCloud subscription. Since I’m using disk optimization I no longer have the external Time Machine drive or CCC drive connected. Instead I’m doing all that on my new MBP with larger capacity drives.

I also have a leftover external SSD drive (600 GB I think) which used to hold my Photos library.

Now I just have too many devices!

(1) My new MBP M1 Pro. Lots of backups, including Time Machine, CCC, and Backblaze.

(2) My old MBP late 2013.

(3) My 2021 iPad Pro 11 inch.

(4) My iPhone.

Since I don’t go out much, I rarely even use the iPad Pro, which is sort of a waste. But I think of that as my “go to” outside device if I have things like server emergencies, because it has a nice keyboard case, is lightweight, and has its own SIM card.

So I wonder what to do with my old MBP late 2013. It can’t run Monterey, and is slower than my new MBP when multiple apps are open, but is otherwise ok. I even got the battery and keyboard replaced last year.

The trade in value was wastefully too low, so I didn’t do that.

My sister, to whom I usually give hand-me-downs already has my old iPad 5, and despite having a Ph.D. in physics can barely use all the features on that.

One thought is to use it outside to keep my new MBP “safe.” Hmmm… But that’s why I have my iPad Pro.

Any other thoughts? A donation to a good cause?

I’m a big fan of using older computers for dedicated tasks. It takes some of the pressure off my main computer and its great for things that you need to do occasionally as you can let it be all set up for that all the time.

Some ideas for old Mac:

  • connect it to a printer for remote printing (assuming your printer isn’t already wireless or that you need hard copies)
  • use as Plex server
  • use as CD/DVD ripping station
  • use to run automated, periodic tasks (could be scripts or macros, apps, etc.)
  • keep as an emergency backup in case something happens to your main computer (rare, but if it needs repairing, you could be without for a week or two)
  • use as a guest computer in case a guest needs to use a web browser, etc.
  • use for certain work / personal tasks or ongoing projects (i.e. digitize all your old family photos, use it for certain rare email accounts, use it exclusively for social media, etc.)

Of course, some of these are simple enough one old computer can do several of them, but you get the idea. I especially like this kind of thing for long, ongoing projects (like the digitizing photos one) where it’s a pain to set it up on your main computer each time you want to work on the project. Leaving it all set up on the old computer, you can do 5-10 minutes worth of work in between other things. Very handy.

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We usually keep one older laptop to take on vacation to offload photos from our camera cards for backup. If it gets lost, broken, or stolen it would be less loss than our main portables.

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I have kept my laptops through the years mainly so that I can run legacy software on the hardware it was designed for. I like having these older machines rather than trying to run the OS in a VM or with emulation.

Once upon a time donating old computers was a good idea. But that was back when security wasn’t hard. Nowadays, giving someone an old computer and trying to use it on the Internet is probably not a good idea.

If I clear out the MBP, wouldn’t the recipient be able to set it up like a new Mac and do everything they want?

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By “clear out” I hope you mean What to do before you sell, give away, or trade in your Mac - Apple Support. That will make the new owner happy while protecting your privacy.


Well, yes, the recipient of your old MBP could probably do a lot of stuff—maybe everything they wanted.

Mr Blanchard refers, I believe, to the security issue. Once a machine falls off the macOS upgrade eligibility list, its days of security on the Internet are numbered. macOS Mojave, as of this writing, is now unsecured against new malware. Big Sur, the most recent one a 2013 MBP can run, will be next.

Of course if the recipient has been obliged to use a really old Mac until now, a hand-me-down 2013 machine will still be a wonder. Just an unsecured one, as of September 2022.

Actually, Catalina will be next so Big Sur should be good until mid 2023.

And I’m running Catalina myself … [face palm]. Thanks for the correction—it makes a 2013 machine a much nicer gift.