Using Mac Mini without monitor?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by negativzero, Nov 28, 2013.

  1. negativzero macrumors 6502a

    Jul 19, 2011
    I'm planning to purchase an old Mac Mini to turn into a AV receiver so I don't really need a monitor other than for the initial config.

    I know I can use Apple's Remote app to control the iTunes library on the Mac. But how do I use other music services like Spotify, Pandora and TuneIn without the use of VNC or some remote desktop type of app.

    Basically I need to know how to control other music services on the Mac Mini remotely on the iPhone or iPad without the use of VNC. Anyone know how???
  2. swingerofbirch macrumors 68030

    Oct 24, 2003
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    If you have a spare HDMI port on your TV, you could use that as a monitor, along with a wireless trackpad/mouse.

    Don't know that there is an answer to the question about non-iTunes remotes apps for iOS, though. Although, with Spotify and Pandora at the least, is there a benefit to running them off of the Mac Mini versus streaming them directly from the iOS device to your speakers (you would need AirPort Express, AppleTV, or AirFoil on the Mac Mini)? Don't know what TuneIn is.
  3. bgd macrumors regular

    Aug 30, 2005
    Why don't you want to use VNC? I control my air, pro and shortly my mini via VNC on my iPhone and iPad. I'm using VNC Lite which is free (I think)
  4. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    I use a mini as a home server and it's running without a monitor. I use VNC to access it when needed, but that's a rare occurrence.
  5. negativzero thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 19, 2011
    Well, I am trying to not go down that road because it will just be more work to do something. As I've said, I am using it as a music server. I don't really need anything more than a few buttons like Play, Skip, Previous, FF and RW.
    If I use VNC, I'd have to interact with a screen on my iPhone or iPad to execute commands which isn't ideal. Not to mention VNC takes time to connect to when starting up. If I use a remote function, its pretty much instantaneous.
  6. geeji macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2012
    Well, sorry to disappoint you, but a Mac, any Mac including the Mac Mini, is NOT an AV Receiver, it is a computer.
    As such, you will have to maintain it, configure it, and for all those things you will need a keyboard, a mouse and a screen.
    You don't have to install any additional program if the control is done from an other Mac, just activate screen sharing thru Preferences on the target headless Mac, and go to Finder/Go to/Network on the controlling Mac.
    You can also control your headless Mac from an iPad using the proper application, like Remoter VNC.
  7. MWPULSE macrumors 6502a


    Dec 27, 2008
    why don't yoiu set up the mac mini as you would a normal mac. (personally i have a somewhat similar setup, I use front row and it automatically logs in, and boots up to front row in SL)

    You can then access the Mac mini via front row (sharing options exist within front row) and also use screen sharing to access and do upkeep on the mac as you need to...

    I think I'm understanding the situation correctly, lol...

    Also I'm assuming that you are using a version of Mac OSX which has Front Row on... lol.. I believe they stopped supporting it in Lion.

  8. jayroc2k macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2009
    I have aheadless mac mini running itune connected to my AV receiver and also XBMC to the TV via HDMI for movies

    choice of control:
    1. Macbook Pro - i use the 'share screen' function in finder (its like remote desktop but easier)

    2. from the iphone/ipad - i use logmein app (not great but OK)

    3. when viewing on TV, i use wireless mouse App on the iphone/Ipad to control the mouse

    4. for itunes, XBMC, i use Apple IR remote or itunes/xbmc control apps on the ipad/iphone

    some many options... choices choices choices.

    Still wish it just read my thoughts and obeyed my commands...
  9. satcomer, Dec 5, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013

    satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
  10. negativzero thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 19, 2011
    Thanks for the suggestions guys. I did some further digging up and found a solution that works for what I need.

    I got the Rowmote app for the iPhone and the connecting app for OSX. This works on my MacBook. The app basically allows me to control Spotify and Pandora running on the Mac while I use Apple's Remote app to control iTunes.

    Now can I ask someone to try downloading the app and see if it works on the Mini. Preferably an older Mini like 2009 or 2010 then if it works, I'll go ahead and purchase my Mini :)
  11. OmegaRed1723 macrumors 6502


    Jun 19, 2009
    The Waste
    I have used headless minis as media servers for 5 years. (Just bought a new i7 mini last week in fact.) I use Screen Sharing on my MacBook pro to control the mini, and it works great. For mobile control (via iPad or iPhone) I use iTeleport. Rowmote does work (I have that app as well), but I much prefer iTeleport.

    One very important note: when no monitor is connected to the mini, QuartzExtreme graphics acceleration will not start. The result can be a very choppy experience with lots of macroblocking. The only way to resolve it is to either connect a monitor, or trick the system into thinking a monitor is connected. I use the Gefen HDMI Detective. It's an expensive solution which saves the EDID settings of a display. After those settings are saved, the device gets plugged into the mini via HDMI and QE acceleration works on the mini.

    The other, much cheaper, solution is to follow the instructions on this blog. It involves the VGA adapter that comes with the mini and a small resistor. I haven't personally tried this, but many people have and the net result is the same.
  12. ybz90 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2009
    Are you familiar or comfortable with (learning) command line?
  13. nosarrra macrumors newbie

    Jan 10, 2011
    Thanks for the info everyone. I want to do the same thing as the OP. I've been using my mac mini as a media server for years but I want to move it to my living room to directly connect (via USB) to my DAC. It will be nowhere near a monitor or TV, but I would rarely need to do anything with a monitor (maybe rip some movies on Handbrake, or drag new files onto iTunes). jayroc2k How can i use my MBP as a Screen Share? Don't i need a screen to execute the command (like I would selecting an ATV for Airplay)? I will also look into LogMeIn and Rowmote as others have suggested.


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