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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

If you intend to stream a lot of movies or audio then it's a good idea to attach your Mac Mini to your Internet router via an Ethernet cable. Although Wi-Fi theoretically boasts speeds easily fast enough for glitch-free playback, real-life conditions will almost certainly mean your actual connection speed is slower - and this can cause the dreaded Spinning Circle of Buffering.

Unless you want wires trailing across your living room floor you'll need a Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad for your Mac Mini. Arguably the best choice is Apple's own Wireless Keyboard coupled to a Magic Trackpad, with are the least bulky of the available options. There are several ways to physically adjoin the keyboard to the trackpad to make a single convenient unit you can store easily. For example, the Henge Dock Clique costs just £25, while the Magic Wand comes in at £20.

Third-party accessories like the Henge Dock Clique let you fix the Apple keyboard to the Magic Trackpad, allowing easy storage of both

All Mac Minis come with infrared receivers, and you can use any Apple Remote to control both video and audio playback in apps like iTunes. You can also use the iOS Remote app to control your Mac Mini's playback via your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. Despite what the app says upon starting, you'll need to tap the Home Sharing link within the Remote app and also set up Home Sharing on iTunes in the Mac Mini (File > Home Sharing) for the Remote app to work.

Third-party iOS apps like TouchPad and Rowmote Pro (£4.99 and £3.99 respectively) turn your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch into a wireless trackpad and keyboard for a Mac, and are also worth considering.

However, a word of warning with regard to any kind of remote control: if the Mac Mini boots without a keyboard and mouse attached, or paired via Bluetooth, it will forever attempt to detect one. If you intend to use only a remote control to access your Mac Mini, you'll need to leave a USB keyboard and mouse attached but hidden out of the way.

Playback time!

To playback movies you've bought via iTunes, simply start them playing and then switch to full-screen by clicking the full-screen button on the transport controls. Don't click the green maximise button at the top left in an attempt to make the video full-screen - this will lead to the iTunes toolbar being present at all times!

For true full-screen playback, click the full-screen button on the transport controls, and don't full-screen the iTunes app window!

For the complete home entertainment hub experience you might want to install some media centre software to playback movies and music you download outside of iTunes.

 

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