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Set up a Mac mini as a TV server, create a Mac mini media centre

Keir Thomas | Feb. 16, 2015
Macs are superb for any context – including in the living room acting as a hub for your video and music enjoyment. Here's how to set you Mac mini to use as a media server with your TV

Alternatively, you might consider enabling high-DPI mode, which doubles all interface elements in size. This is really designed for Retina screens but on a 1080p TV it's just about workable. To enable high-DPI, open Terminal (you'll find it in the Utilities folder within Finder), and then paste-in the following as a single line, typing your password when prompted and then rebooting:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.windowserver.plist DisplayResolutionEnabled -bool true

When you log back in nothing will have changed but if you again adjust the resolution within System Preferences, holding down Alt/Option before tapping the Scaled radio button, you should find two new options: 960x540 (HiDPI) and 800x450 (HiDPI). Try either to see how they fit, and try applications too in either mode (iTunes will warn you that it requires a higher resolution but will still work).

To return to the default 1080p resolution, simply select it again in the list.

To deactivate high-DPI mode, again open Terminal and type the following before rebooting:

sudo defaults delete /Library/Preferences/com.apple.windowserver.plist DisplayResolutionEnabled

High-DPI mode makes on-screen elements bigger, enabling them to be seen from your armchair!

Sound setup

Sound is also sent to your TV via HDMI but you might want to use an AV receiver to get DTS 5.1 channel sound. Connecting the HDMI output of the Mac Mini to your AV receiver, and then connecting a passthrough cable to the monitor, should output both stereo and 5.1 channel sound.

The Mac Mini also features a headphone output that in addition offers both analogue audio output for a stereo or headphones (via a 3.5mm jack to RCA adapter) and SPDIF optical digital output, although you'll need a TOSLINK to TOSLINK mini adapter. The optical output also supports 5.1 channel sound for connection directly to your receiver, allowing you to connect the HDMI output directly to the TV.

Alas, problems with sound output from a Mac Mini via HDMI are common. Typically, you might find 5.1 channel sound isn't working. Various solutions are listed across the web - just Google - but start by ensuring the receiver is configured for 5.1 output. You may have to deactivate auto-detect on the receiver and manually configure its output options.

If this doesn't fix things, open System Preferences, click the Sound icon, select the Output tab, and ensure the receiver is selected in the list beneath. Despite its name, the Audio MIDI Setup app in the Utilities folder within the Applications list of Finder offers sound in-depth configuration options that it can be useful playing with.

The Mac Mini's headphone port not only outputs an analogue signal for a stereo, but also a digital optical output too

Setup tricks

 

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