11 cool uses for your old dead Mac

11 uses for an old Mac
Turn your first-gen iPad into an old-school iMac with the inimitable iPadiMac

Back in Victorian times, the death of a pet didn't necessarily mean the end of a beautiful friendship: if you had the means, you could arrange to have your faithful companion stuffed.

The process became known as taxidermy, and it turns out that there's a modern equivalent for Apple kit that's too old or too broken to carry on. You could call it 'Macsidermy'.

Nothing lasts forever, and one day your favourite Apple kit must go to the great Apple Store in the sky. However, some owners don't believe that the death of a Mac should be the end of a Mac. Their Macs aren't just stuffed and stuck in a corner, though. They're reincarnated, reborn in new forms designed to keep that happy-Mac feeling alive.

It's rather fitting that the products being reborn and recycled are Apple ones: after all, Steve Jobs' own spiritual path, Buddhism, teaches about impermanence but also rebirth and renewal. Jobs himself is pro-recycling too: as he recalls, in his pre-Apple days at Reed College, Jobs "returned Coke bottles for the five cent deposits to buy food with."

Keep reading as we discover the incredible ways Apple owners are helping their Macs to live on.

1. Fancy dress

fancy dress

Developer: Gary S Katz
URL: www.personalmovietheater.com
Specs: Angle-poise iMac with integrated iPhone holder for hilarious MouthOff-related tomfoolery. It just works.

We like the way Gary Katz thinks. When he sees an iPad and a box, he sees a concert venue for pretend people. When he sees old Power Macs, he sees a cool storage solution. And when he sees an old iMac, he sees a Cylon helmet.

"I built a small box out of circuit boards to hold my iPhone and run an app called MouthOff that syncs a cartoon mouth to any sound it hears," he says. "It looks hilarious when the wearer is talking as the mouth syncs to the sound." We're betting Steve Jobs himself couldn't envision such uses of his kit.

And Katz has plenty more ideas where that one came from, as his blog clearly demonstrates.

2. In your living room

Living room

Developer: MacTechnology
URL: www.mactechnology.co.uk
Specs: Apple iMac G3 with slot-loading CD/DVD drive, iMac G3 table conversion kit (£29), a table top

The iMac G3 is a classic for all kinds of reasons: it was the first Mac to banish the beige, the floppy drive and adopt USB - and, of course, it marked the beginning of Apple's resurgence following the return of Steve Jobs in the late 1990s.

Sadly, the iMac G3 isn't much use as a computer today, so why not turn it into a talking point instead? Oxfordshire-based company MacTechnology has created a range of conversion kits that can turn the iMac G3 and other Apple computers into occasional tables and desks - they're all available to buy from the MacTechnology website. You don't even need any tools or glue to assemble!

3. On your desktop

Kleenex dispenser

Developer: Mike Hathaway
URL: www.mikehathaway.com
Specs: G4 Cube, a box of Kleenex tissues

To paraphrase the M&S ad, this is no ordinary Kleenex box; this is a $2,500 Kleenex box. When Mike Hathaway was dumping some old work equipment, he spotted somebody else getting shot of some G4 Cubes. "I couldn't let them sit there and go to the recycler and certain doom," he writes. "So I've modified one to sit on the table in my office and dispense tissues."

Fancy something more practical? Randall Littleton (www.randalllittleton.com) makes iMacs into interesting things such as clocks and angle-poise lamps. An iMac lamp is yours for just $125. Why does it remind us of the opening credits of every Pixar film? Steve Jobs would be proud…

4. As a clock

Clock 1

Developer: Book of Joe
URL: www.bookofjoe.com

Developer: Stuff Made From Stuff
URL: www.etsy.com/people/pixelthis

One of the simplest, most useful and most attractive ways to reuse an old Mac is to drill a hole in it. Mac clocks are everywhere online, with sites such as Etsy.com showcasing all kinds of good-looking Mac clocks. We particularly like Stuff Made From Stuff's designs: using an Apple mouse as a pendulum is a witty touch that makes us grin whenever we look at it.

Mac clock 2

Older Mac hardware is particularly good for decoration, and the original iMac inspired all kinds of consumer kit. Its keyboard makes a good clock too, as Book of Joe's creation demonstrates above.

5. As a home for your pets

pet home

Developer: Yeo & Chua
URL: http://gucciand prada.blogspot.com
Specs: Apple Studio CRT Display, sawdust, hamster wheel, toys and small plastic

Christmas tree Jim Lower built his first Macquarium in 1995 by sticking a two-and-a-half-gallon fish tank in a Mac 512kE case. It looked great, but the tank burst. The mark II model was more successful, and it still lives on as a colourful planter - more of that in a moment.


Mac kit can make great homes for furry pets too: designers Bjorn Yeo and Jo Chua took a clear, pear-shaped Apple Studio CRT Display, hollowed it out and turned it into a great-looking home for their "hammies" Gucci and Prada. We think they make an adorable desktop wallpaper too…