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In an hours time I will be buying a second hand Mac Mini for a bargain price. The person I am collecting it from says he has no screen for me to check that it works, and my prehistoric 19" CRT is too big to take on the tube. I already bluffed him by saying I would bring a small screen to test it which he was quite happy about, but I would still like confirmation that it works before handing over any cash.

So my question is this: Given a Mac Mini, a keyboard, and a power cable, how can I test that said Mac is operational? Obviously the one thing I can't test is monitor output.

I'm thinking something like MP3 player connection, keyboard shortcuts to volume control... Give me your ideas!!!

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migrated from Aug 1 '09 at 8:44

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Turn on the computer, give it enough time to boot up, then use the following keyboard shortcut:


That should cause the Mac Mini to shut itself down again. If it shuts down of its own accord, it probably at least managed to boot OS X successfully; if it doesn't, then it's probably stuck somewhere.

Another option (if you have some way of hearing the sound output) is to simply use the volume controls built in to the F-keys, and listen for the "popping" sound used to indicate the new volume.

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That's a great suggestion, as the mini has a built in speaker. – MJeffryes Aug 1 '09 at 9:20
And, of course, the boot should generate that beautiful "boing..." very early on. – dmckee Aug 2 '09 at 3:14
If you hear a breaking glass sound when you boot it up, turn around and go home. – rob Oct 12 '09 at 18:34

I'd be sure to take a monitor along. Lugging 40-50 lbs. a couple of times is worth it if it saves you from wasting your money on a broken computer.

You should also run something very CPU-intensive for a good 15 minutes or so, in case the computer has a heat-related issue.

If you really want to show you're 1337, boot the machine off a Linux CD, then use your NetBook or iPhone to ssh into it and run your diagnostics over the network.

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