I'm doing it – moving to M1 Mac Mini

So yesterday evening, coming back from a trip (yes, I had one of those), I wanted to check a few things on my main machine, an almost fully specced out late 2015 27’’ iMac (i7 4 Ghz, 24 Gb RAM). This is a tremendous machine which has been chugging along for five full years, but I made a tragic mistake: it was already a huge investment for me at the time so I chose a 256 Gb internal SSD, which keeps choking the machine with various temp files, despite moving all my work data on an external 4 Tb SSD. And this limitation is strangling the machine for all the work I’m doing (working on multiple Gb Scrivener projects, producing podcasts, coding). There are numerous occurrences where I can’t update Xcode, where I run out of disk space and everything crumbles or gets weird. I have been holding off to my the next M1X MBP and Mac Pro, with great difficulty but still clenching my teeth…

So, switching the machine on last night, I could not anything. The mouse would move on the desktop, but nothing would react to anything. Reboot. Same thing. Reboot. This time, I notice there’s a bunch of apps asking for privileges they are supposed to have (disk access, accessibility for things such as BTT, Bartender and so on). Reboot. This time, I stay on my toes and click as fast as I can to close the host of dialog boxes before (I suppose) they conflict with one another, and I manage to get to Finder. I’m surprised that these apps ask for permissions they’re supposed to have, and I try granting them again, but no luck. Disk access, accessibility, screen recording permissions all stay blank and will not accept any apps.

Reboot. No luck. I’m starting to sweat (this is my work machine), I have backups, but working on anything else is a pain in my current setup and I’m starting to think I will have to move on to my MBP for work this week. Reboot – finally macOS sees reason again, all apps are granted permissions again, and I’m good, it works as it should.

Still, that’s 1h30 wasted between looking online, attempting fixes and so on – fortunately I did not have to do this on Monday morning.

This is the straw that breaks my back – I’m on Apple gear because I want (and need) things to work and this iMac is struggling to keep up with what I’m asking it. I’ve been running it a bit too long and there’s a good chance I could still run it like this in a year when I get to the new Mac Pro, but I’m starting to lose way too much time with it and I’m never entirely sure it can be rebooted safely.

So I bit the bullet and ordered a fully specced-up M1 Mac Mini this morning (16 Gb RAM, 2 Tb storage, 10 Gb Ethernet). I am planning to replace my NAS with a Mac Mini server at some point anyway so when I get to the M1X / M2 Mac Pro, this new M1 machine will be demoted to Plex / file server (and it will probably last two decades in that role…). Added a CalDigit TB3 dock to compensate for the lack of ports (and basically plug in there all my current USB-A gear without wondering about anything). My current iMac will go to my father as his work machine, and it will be an amazing computer for him (considering that he only does email / word processing / Internet browsing).

Now, of course, I can’t wait to get my hands on my new daily driver (10 days!), to put it through its paces, to use the internal storage to move in entirely to iCloud and ditch Dropbox, and so on. :slightly_smiling_face:


Well, that is a coincidence. I have the same iMac and was making the same kind of choices last night. Mine has a fusion drive that makes me nervous after 5 years. Dropbox really takes a toll on booting this machine.
I am hoping to wait and see all the Macs coming out before I decide. My first Mac was a mini and I loved it especially with the 27" Cinema Display. My daughter and her kids still use it.
I am hoping to get it back for my collection.

What monitor would you use with the Mini? That is my real hold up. I miss the Apple monitors. I actually have a 30" matte display set up with an old Mac Pro from 2006 that I play with. Everyone that walks into my workspace loves that monitor.

1 Like

Oh, the fusion drive must be brutal. I feel your pain. I really, really wanted to wait more, but I broke :sweat_smile: can’t take it anymore.

I picked a 27’ 5k LG Ultrafine when it was heavily discounted which is my current second screen, so I’ll switch to that one as the main one through TB. I have another 27’ 4K LG which I’ll move up from my gaming rig to complement it through the regular HDMI port, so I should be set. I’ll dust off my old 1080p LG 27’ one which will resume its place for gaming. I’m lucky that as a geek I almost always keep spare parts around from the previous years for situations like this.

I really wish Apple would make a mini-LED screen, yeah. I could see that coming again though. Maybe next year?

Personally, I think you should have gone this route. :slight_smile:


Let me see, I should have a few sparts parts of my soul that may fetch a reasonable price… :grin:


Here a quick shot of my wife’s office setup. I had planned to write more about the entire setup and the challenges I had with M1 Logitech camera and microphone.


Love that clean desk, very nice setting! Thanks for sharing.

(Also love that I recognize a few peripherals I will be plugging into my own M1 :sweat_smile:)

For those reasons, it’s a no-brainer to get a new machine now. Peace of mind while working is super important.

What do you think was the cause of the freeze and app permissions?

1 Like

Thanks for giving me good conscience! :sweat_smile: (felt a bit guilty to break my plan)

I have honestly no idea. It was the strangest thing since only a subset of them was affected - accessibility, disk access and screen recording; the others were fine.
Those categories showed up blank and would not accept apps, and upon yet another reboot, they were repopulated.
I can only guess some database corruption due to the small drive, which was rebuilt on reboot once enough temp files were freed.

I wouldn’t feel guilty about the plan. It’s like that Mike Tyson quote “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Essentially you just got punched in the face. lol.

1 Like

OK, I bit the bullet too. Late 2015 iMac 27" acting badly. Dropbox is the culprit and I only have dropbox going for business. I use my home machine to back up all the business dropbox files. I got the cheapest Mac mini and will set up headless. I only have 128GB of dropbox files currently in the business. I really want to get Dropbox syncing off my iMac that I use all the time. I love the functionality of Dropbox and it has carried our company since 2007 going paperless. Yet the program itself, on machine, is such a burden. I am done. At some point in the past, it was so bad I upgraded everyone’s workstation to max ram and ssd. Dropbox and spinning disks are incompatible.
Thank you @anon85228692 for giving me the courage to move forward. I was waiting to see what Apple comes up with this fall but, at this point, who cares.
To paraphrase the Joker, “I have given a name to my pain, it is Dropbox”

1 Like

I’m following the same reasoning for this new machine. I want Dropbox to never touch it from day one, so I’m thinking all kinds of strategies to transfer my data and still have iCloud behave :sweat_smile:

I did the same when I got my M1 in January. I’d been a Dropbox customer since 2010 so I was skeptical at first but I’ve had not problems at all. I am very happy with an un-Droboxed Finder and without the app constantly churning in the background.

1 Like

Similar - I’ve got Dropbox installed on my Synology and it uses the Cloud Sync app on the Synology to sync. Nice not to have that installed on the MacBook.

I’d do the same with Onedrive, but that stops auto save working on the office apps and I can’t open the same file as a colleague either, so at the minute I’m sticking with Onedrive installed.

1 Like

Got the M1 Mac mini. Set up headless and ethernet connected to router. Put my business Dropbox on it and an external time machine drive.
Removed all traces of Dropbox from my regular machine. Did some Clean my Mac work and voila, like a new machine.
I just saved my self a lot of money and am very happy. Have full access to dropbox for my work but none of the headaches that were killing my 2015 machine.
Thanks to @anon85228692 for encouraging me to take action. I love my old 5K iMac and do not do any heavy work. I was seriously considering the new 24" iMac or even going to wait to see what the big boy is. I think the bigger iMac may be too big. 27" really suits me.
I run some old Macs and one of them supports the matte 30" Cinema Display. (I started to collect old Apple). While it it beautiful, it is way to big for almost anyone. And 24" felt like stepping back.

1 Like