Trying to re-home a 2011 iMac: High Sierra potentially unsecure, Windows/ChromeOS installs failing

Hi folks,

I recently replaced my 2011 iMac with a new M1 iMac. While the 2011 iMac isn’t suitable for my work, it’s still a competent enough machine except for the fact that it stops at High Sierra (can’t go above it without replacing the graphics card). I don’t need it as a media server or anything similar since I’ve got a 2011 Mac mini server which I’ve upgraded to Mojave in that role. I’d like to give the 2011 iMac to my parents, who are running an even older HP machine at home. They’re mainly on their iPhones, but will happily send emails and browse the web on a bigger screen, and need a bigger hard drive than iOS devices provide for their old digital photos and scans. However, since that HP machine runs Windows 10 and is still receiving security updates and High Sierra isn’t, I wasn’t sure if I should hand it over as-is.

I looked at both ChromeOS and Windows (through Bootcamp) as alternatives that continue to receive updates, but I’ve run into issues with both during installations. ChromeOS fails at the start, and Windows progresses to various points before failing. I’ve gone through multiple attempts and racked up enough time on installation screens to the point that I’m not sure if this is worth any more effort. So I thought I’d ask the folks here: is it okay to keep running High Sierra as a browser and photo machine, since it will be online all the time? Would it be better to keep up the fight to try and install an OS that can be updated? Or should I just acknowledge that maybe this machine deserves a visit to the green pastures of Apple’s electronic recycling facilities?

Your input is greatly appreciated.

If your desk has enough space, look into target display mode, which will let you use the 2011 imac as an external display. If you can’t do that, I’d keep it as it is. If you really want to upgrade you could also investigate Open-Core legacy patcher, to get later versions of MacOS

Is there a reason you’ve not considered Linux? I’ve not used Linux in quite some time, but I suspect you could set up an environment that would meet your parents needs.


I don’t recommend running any os that’s not receiving security updates.

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If the iMac has an upgraded GPU, trying an unofficial route to installing Big Sur might be worth a look. It appears to be a bit more involved than your regularly supported OS upgrade, but it might be worth the hassle if it keeps the machine in the game a while longer!

I did take a look at that since I do think it’s still a great display, but unfortunately it requires another Mac running Catalina or earlier. And it doesn’t have the upgraded GPU that @2fifty6 mentioned either, so I can’t run a patcher since it doesn’t support Metal and all the various guides say it’ll run incredibly poorly.

Thanks for this, I hadn’t actually found a site that lists security vulnerabilities so clearly. That’s quite the list for High Sierra…

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Let me second this. Just had a discussion with a friend who put Linux Mint on a 2009 vintage iMac and it runs fast and smooth and has up to date security. Plus it does all the basic stuff like web and email.


I’ve been out of the loop on Linux since the year of desktop Linux the mid-2000s, so it completely slipped my mind to be honest. I seem to recall Mint was being talked about as the go-to distro for novice users so I will take a look at it. Thank you both for the suggestion!


I would completely 2nd the Linux suggestion.
There are distro’s for people that are used to macos, or windows and that are abolutely easy to maintain.

As an example the new Ubuntu 22.04 LTS will receive updates for 5 years, so your Mac would be ok for at least another 5 years.

In your case a distro like ElemantaryOS or PopOS would be great I think, and both are Ubuntu based so will also get enough updates for a long time.

Even if only as a learning experience it might be fun.
(that;s how it started for me, but I have now moved all but one of my macs to Linux (Manjaro) and basically only have iOS devices left)