If you have an elderly Mac that’s not up to the demands of the latest macOS version, you can turn it into a Chromebook. All you need is Chrome OS Flex, an operating system Google created for older Macs and PCs.
The OS is still in beta, and targeted at businesses and schools. Nevertheless, it might become a way to bring some new life to your obsolete Mac.
Chrome OS Flex for old Macs
Google paints a bleak picture of using older computers. “Slow boot times, intrusive updates, security add-ons, and burdensome management of legacy devices take valuable time away from employees, students, and IT,” the company says in its intro to the new OS.
Because Chrome OS is essentially the Chrome web browser expanded into an operating system, its hardware requirements are fairly minimal. Google promises that computers running it “don’t slow down over time.” They also “stay up to date, provide proactive protection, and are easy to manage,” the company says.
There are a variety of iMac, Mac mini and MacBook models certified to work with Chrome OS Flex. Among the older models on the list are the mid-2009 MacBook, the mid-2010 iMac and the 2014 Mac mini. Just note that, during the beta period, most of the Macs come with a warning of “minor issues expected.”
A cloud-based OS
In 2020, Google purchased Neverware, the developer of CloudReady, an operating system built on Chromium OS for older computers. This has been adapted into Chrome OS Flex.
Those interested can “try Chrome OS Flex without installing it by booting directly from the USB drive – risk free,” Google says. If you like the way it works, you can install it “on your PC or Mac to replace your operating system for the best experience.”
Flex offers the official Chrome Browser, Google Assistant and cross-device features in the same user interface as Chrome OS. “Chrome OS Flex modernizes devices you already own, allowing you to experience the benefits of Chrome OS on PCs and Macs,” says Google.
Currently, it’s a beta. It comes with the prominent warning that “the OS is in early access and you may experience some instability.”
Visit the Google website to learn more.