How to use a Mac mini as a home server

How to use a Mac mini as a home server

In a previous post, I talked about how I use my Mac mini as a home server for all my YouTube video production files. In that post I mostly focused on the hardware, so today I wanted through some of the important software and settings.

Disclaimer: I am not a security expert, so it is very likely that I’m doing something dumb with my setup. Everything I have is backed up 3 or more times, and I have offsite backups, so I have a backup plan when things go wrong. If you’re an expert in these matters, and have a better way to do this, please let me know in the comments!

Mac Mini Settings

So the issue was that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know what states the machine could end up in, that would block me from being able to log in remotely. Since I didn’t know, I didn’t even know how to search to figure this out in google. I had just had to set it up, fail, and then learn from the failures.


So the first one was pretty straightforward, I realize there had been a power outage and I couldn’t get back to my machine afterwards. A quick google confirms this is a common issue, suggests the solution is to turn on this setting:

  • Settings >> Energy Saver >> Startup automatically after power loss

Auto Login

So after the computer repowers up, you still need to log back into your user. Sometimes I’d have issues controlling the computer remotely in this stage, so I needed a way for the computer to reboot in a logged in state. This also required removing FileVault, which lowers the security of your computer, so be warned.

Lock Screen

Then one time my screen somehow got locked and I couldn’t get back in, so I figured out how to turn that off. I realize that this basically renders my computer vulnerable to anyone who gets physical access. I’m ok with that, because its just kitesurfing footage, and if someone breaks into my house, that’s the least of my concerns.

  • System Settings >> Lock Screen >> Require Password after Screen saver begins or screen is turned off (Never)

Other software

I had to find a few other pieces of software to make the whole thing work. First is the screen sharing application, Screens. I had previously tried Google Remote Desktop, and it worked great, but I didn’t always want to have a browser open or have to rely on yet another google product.

The issue with screens is that the remote access portion of it, Screens Connect, didn’t consistently work. I’d get access outside of the apartment some of the time, but not always (quite possible its user error). This is where Tailscale comes in, it basically makes it very very easy for you to put all your devices on the same network, no matter where they are.

Install was a breeze and configuration is basically zero. So far in 4 months, I’ve not had a single issue, so I’m sticking with Tailscale.

After this I need to figure out permissioning so I can give family members and collaborators for my YouTube channel access to my Mac mini so we can share files.