I follow a couple of Facebook group for Apple users. They post all sorts of questions and dilemmas that sometimes gives me ideas of what to write about. One thing I have noticed that comes up a lot is people asking whether they should buy a second hand Mac, or for help with a second hand Mac that they have just bought.

These are naturally people who were looking for a bargain. Sometimes they are people for whom this will be their first Mac. But inevitably buying a second hand Mac causes nothing but trouble.

Now there is second hand and there is second hand. A wise person who wanted to save money would buy a refurbished Mac from Apple (or another company that carries out refurbishments and has a good reputation). Read: Why you should buy a refurbished Mac.

Alternatively they might pick up a good deal from an Apple reseller on a discontinued model (have a look at our various Mac deals for MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac mini). What they won't be doing is buying a Mac that is a few years old from a stranger on eBay.

The problem when people buy Macs second hand is that they are buying a Mac someone else is replacing. And they have good reason to replace it.

So before you buy that 2009 iMac please stop and read this!

Here are six reasons why it's a bad idea to buy a second hand Mac:

1. Old Macs aren't secure

Apple only maintains software support for the previous two versions of macOS (at the time of writing that's Big Sur and Catalina). That means that if your Mac doesn't run at least macOS Catalina you are out in the cold when it comes to security updates. Using a Mac that is running old software could put you and your data at risk.

Macs supported by macOS Catalina (which came out in 2019) include:

  • MacBook (early 2015 or later)
  • MacBook Air (mid 2012 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (mid 2012 or later)
  • Mac mini (late 2012 or later)
  • iMac (late 2012 or later)
  • iMac Pro (2017 or later)
  • Mac Pro (late 2013 or later)

So you should definitely not consider buying a Mac from before 2012. But given that later in 2022 Apple will move support to Big Sur and older, that means the cut off will be:

  • MacBook models from early 2015 or later
  • MacBook Air models from 2013 or later
  • MacBook Pro models from 2013 or later
  • Mac mini models from 2014 or later
  • iMac models from 2014 or later
  • iMac Pro (all models)
  • Mac Pro models from 2013 or later

But that doesn't mean you can confidently buy a Mac from 2013 and expect things to be plain sailing.

2. A lack of parts will make fixes difficult

If something goes wrong with your ageing Mac it is very unlikely you will be able to get the parts to fix it and if you can it will probably be very expensive to fix.

Apple considers Macs Obsolete seven years after it stops selling them. Once they hit 10 years they are considered Vintage. Obsolete means that Apple might be able to provide parts if they need servicing, but it doesn't guarantee that it will be able to. Vintage means that your chance of getting the Apple part is practically nil.

Vintage Macs include the 2014 21.5in iMac, 2015 27in iMac, the 2015 12in MacBook, 2014 MacBook Pro and 2014 MacBook Air. Read: How long do Macs last.

3. There won't be adequate software support

Older Macs may be able to support the latest version of macOS, but they will miss out on many of the flagship features. For example older Macs lack many of the best macOS Monterey features. Read: Some Monterey features don't work on Intel Macs.

Along with Apple not updating the older version of macOS it is probable that software developers won't update the software you are using too. Again this could leave you at risk from vulnerabilities and flaws in the software.

4. Performance will be disappointing

It's likely that an older Mac - even one that was incredibly powerful in its day - will struggle to perform modern tasks. There is the slim possibility that you may be able to upgrade the RAM and other components in an older Mac to make it better suited to todays tasks, but the money you spend on upgrading an old Mac would be better spent on something newer.

An old Mac is likely to be unreliable. Expect unexpected shutdowns and crashes to plague your day.

5. It will be Intel

Apple is in the midst of a move from Intel to its own processors that are much much better than anything on offer before.

Buying an Intel Mac now is buying a machine that has no future. Within a year even the best Intel Mac you can buy right now will have been left for dust by its Apple Silicon successors (M1, M1 Pro or M1 Max right now, with M2 and beyond to come). Not only will that leave you in the slow lane, it will also make the Mac harder to sell or pass on in the future.

6. There are better ways to save money...

Even if you are desperate for a bargain Mac our advice is do not buy secondhand. You would be much better off buying a Mac mini, which you can get for £699/$699, looking out for a deal on a new Mac, or buying from Apple's refurbished store where at least old Macs are serviced first and you get a full year's warranty.

But don't buy secondhand, you'll regret it.

Check out our best Apple deals below. Plus we have the following Mac deals round ups:

Best Mac deals

Best US Apple deals:

1. Apple Watch Series 5 (44mm, cellular) - Stainless Steel

From: Amazon US

Was: $749

Now: $459  ($290 off)

Amazon US is selling the stainless steel Apple Watch Series 5 44mm with cellular connectivity with a whopping $290 off the original price. If you can live without the Spo2 monitoring of the newer Series, it's an incredible deal.

Stock is low, so be quick!

2. Apple AirPods Pro

From: Amazon US

Was: $249

Now: $179.99  ($70 off)

Amazon has the lowest price on the AirPods Pro at the moment with stock expected to return soon. Currently, the fastest delivery date is for the first week of January. If it sells out, head to Target where it's also $179.99.

3. Apple MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 256GB (2020)

From: Best Buy

Was: $999

Now: $899  ($100 off)

You can save money on the entry-level M1 MacBook Air with 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU at Best Buy.

4. Apple 13in MacBook Pro, 2.0GHz quad-core, 512GB (2020)

From: Best Buy

Was: $1,799

Now: $1,299  ($500 off)

There's an amazing deal to be had on the 13in MacBook Pro with 2.0GHz Intel processor that Apple was selling for $1,799 before it introduced the M1 Pro model. With a saving of $500 this is an amazing deal on a MacBook if you would rather stick with Intel. It's an even bigger discount than what we saw over Cyber Monday.

5. Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS + Cellular, 44mm)

From: Walmart

Was: $429

Now: $379  ($50 off)

US shoppers can save $50 on the 44mm Apple Watch 6 with GPS and Cellular from Walmart in its holiday sales. The retailer had $100 off over Cyber Monday, but $50 off is still a welcome saving.

6. Apple Mac mini, M1, 8-Core CPU / 8-Core GPU, 256GB

From: B&H Photo

Was: $699

Now: $649  ($50 off)

B&H has $50 off the M1 Mac mini with 256GB drive.

If you are a member, you can get this Mac mini for $600 at Costco.

7. Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular, Aluminum) - 44mm

From: Best Buy

Was: $529

Now: $290.99  ($238.01 off)

Best Buy has over $230 off the Apple Watch 5 with cellular connectivity!

8. Apple iPhone 12 Mini (64GB, carrier locked to Straight Talk)

From: Walmart

Was: $499

Now: $349  ($150 off)

Save a $150 on the smallest model in last year's iPhone line-up from Walmart. Just bear in mind that this device will come locked to the carrier Straight Talk.

9. Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max (512GB) - Refurbished

From: DeCluttr

Was: $1,049.99

Now: $939.99  ($100 off with MISTLETOE10)

Pick up a 10% holiday discount from Decluttr when you use the code MISTLETOE10 at checkout (maximum discount up to $100). 

10. Apple 24in iMac, M1, 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 256GB (2021)

From: Walmart

Was: $1,499

Now: $1,434.95  ($64.05 off)

Walmart not only has 24in iMac in stock, it also has a discount! (Ignore the lies about the RRP though!)

Walmart also has the $1,699 model for $1,639.

11. Apple Pencil (1st generation)

From: Amazon US

Was: $99

Now: $89  ($10 off)

Amazon has $10 off the 1st gen Apple Pencil.

12. Apple 14in MacBook Pro, M1 Pro, 8-Core CPU/14-Core GPU, 2021

From: Walmart

Was: $2,499

Now: $2,449  ($50 off)

Walmart has $50 off the 14in MacBook Pro.

13. Apple MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 512GB (2020)

From: Amazon US

Was: $1,249

Now: $1,099  ($149 off)

Save nearly $150 on the MacBook Air with the M1 chip from Amazon with delivery expected by 19-21 December. If it runs out of stock, the next best price is from B&H photo Video where it's £1149.

14. Apple MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 512GB (2020)

From: B&H Photo Video

Was: $1,299

Now: $1,199  ($100 off)

B&H Photo Video has a $100 saving on the M1 MacBook Air with 8GB RAM/512GB storage and 8-core GPU.

15. Disney+ Up to 6 months

From: Amazon Music

Was: $47.94

Now: Free with Amazon Music Unlimited  ($9.99 per month/$7.99 for Prime Members)

Amazon Music Unlimited now includes up to six months Disney+ for free!

16. Apple 16in MacBook Pro, 2.3GHz i9 8-core 16GB/1TB (2019)

From: Best Buy

Was: $2,799

Now: $2,499.99  ($300 off)

Best Buy has a great saving on the 2019 16in MacBook Pro with 8-core i9 and 1TB SSD. It was $2,799, but you can get it for $2,499.99, which is $300 off the price Apple used to sell it for, albeit $200 more than Best Buy's Cyber Monday price. 

Best UK Apple deals:

1. Apple AirPods Max

From: Laptops Direct

Was: £549

Now: £399  (£150 off)

This £150 saving on the AirPods Max is the best around. It only applies to the models in pink and green, but you can find discounts across the other colour finishes too, with £120 off the silver version and £49 off the blue version.

2. Apple Magic Mouse 2

From: Smartfone Store

Was: £79

Now: £59.99  (£19.01 off)

Apple may have discontinued the Magic Mouse 2, but you can pick it up from the Smartfone Store with £20 off. Very has the second-best price at £64.99.

3. Apple AirPods 3 (2021)

From: John Lewis

Was: £169

Now: £159  (£10 off)

Considering how new they are, this £10 discount on the new AirPods is well worth having. AO and Amazon are both matching the deal.

4. Apple Watch SE (44mm, GPS + Cellular)

From: Amazon

Was: £349

Now: £301.37  (£47 off)

The Apple Watch SE may not have all the bells and whistles of the Series 7, but at £301 with a 44mm case and cellular connectivity, it's a tempting buy. 

5. Apple Watch Series 6 (44mm, cellular)

From: Amazon

Was: £509

Now: £329  (£180 off)

Save £180 on the 44mm Watch 6 with cellular connectivity from Amazon. It's the lowest price we've seen for this variant.

6. Apple AirPods Pro with MagSafe charging case

From: Laptops Direct

Was: £239

Now: £179  (£60 off)

This is an excellent saving on the AirPods Pro, Apple's excellent true-wireless earphones with ANC, but look out for the delivery fee. John Lewis is charging £189 but charges less for delivery and includes a 2-year guarantee.

7. Apple iPhone SE with iPad 10.2in (2021)

From: Virgin

Now: From £29 per month (2GB)

If you were looking to buy the new iPad along with a new iPhone ahead of Christmas, why not pick this offer from Virgin where both come bundled together.

See our dedicated articles on the best iPhone SE deals along with the best iPad (2021) deals.

8. Apple iPad Air 4 (64GB, 2020) Wi-Fi Only - Refurbished "Good"

From: Music Magpie

Was: £579.99

Now: £509.99  (£70 off)

Music Magpie has £70 off a Space Grey refurbished iPad Air 4 (2020) in "Good" condition. It's not the best price it has ever been, but it includes a free 12-month warranty for peace of mind and free delivery too. 

9. Apple iPad Pro (2021, M1, 12.9in)

From: Amazon

Was: £999

Now: £956.92  (£42.08 off)

Apple's super-powerful flagship tablet is a bit less expensive if you buy from Amazon, but note that this has gone up since the turn of the year. The same retailer had it for £899 before Christmas.

10. Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm, GPS + Cellular)

From: Amazon

Was: £469

Now: £440.86  (£28.14 off)

The Apple Watch Series 7 offers a larger, brighter display, slimmer bezels and more. Right now you can nearly £30 from Amazon on the 41mm cellular option.

11. Apple MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 512GB (2020)

From: Amazon

Was: £1,249

Now: £1,099.97  (£149 off)

Amazon has a great deal on the 512GB MacBook Air with M1. This price means it's only £100 more than the entry-level model would usually cost, plus you get twice as much storage and that all important extra graphics core.

When we checked it was out of stock, but it's worth checking in case Amazon gets more in.

12. Apple 13in MacBook Pro, M1, 8-core CPU, 8-core GPU, 256GB (2020)

From: Amazon

Was: £1,299

Now: £1,159  (£140 off)

This is a decent saving on the entry-level 13in MacBook Pro with M1.

 

13. Apple Mac mini, M1, 8-Core CPU / 8-Core GPU, 256GB

From: Amazon

Was: £699

Now: £648.97  (£50.03 off)

Amazon has a decent discount on the M1 Mac mini. If it sells out, you can also find it for £657.66 from the BT Shop.

14. Apple iPad Air with Apple Pencil

From: Virgin

Now: £26 per month (2GB data)

Get an Apple Pencil with the cellular iPad Air from Virgin – a great bundle if you were already after the Apple Pencil! It's a £19 upfront cost and £26 per month with 2GB of data to play with.  

15. Apple iPhone 12 with Watch SE (GPS, 40mm)

From: Mobile Phones Direct

Now: £79.99 upfront, £55 per month (60GB)

This bundle from Mobile Phones Direct includes a 40mm Watch SE (GPS) and 60GB of data. You also get free next day delivery.

16. Apple iPhone 13 mini with iPad (2021)

From: Virgin

Now: From £40 per month, no upfront cost

Pick up the latest iPad and iPhone 13 from Virgin in this Black Friday bundle, which is still available in December 2021.

17. Apple Watch Series 6 (44mm, cellular, Stainless Steel) - Refurbished

From: Music Magpie

Was: £699

Now: £389.99  (£309 off)

The Stainless Steel, 44mm cellular Apple Watch 6 is the most premium option you can buy - but not if you buy refurbished from MusicMagpie, where it currently costs less than £400. 

18. Apple iPad Pro (2021, M1, 11in)

From: Amazon

Was: £749

Now: £717.45  (£31.55 off)

Apple's exceptionally powerful M1-equipped iPad Pro for 2021 has a chunky price tag to match. But it's a little less chunky if you go to Amazon - and note that it's dropped by another couple of quid since before Christmas.

19. Apple MacBook Air, M1, 8-core CPU, 7-core GPU, 256GB (2020)

From: Currys

Was: £999

Now: £889  (£110 off)

Everyone seems to have this deal right now! You can get the £999 MacBook Air with 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU in gold for £889 from Currys or Amazon, AO and John Lewis.

 

20. Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm)

From: John Lewis

Was: £379

Now: £279  (£100 off)

It cost £379 when new, so this is a generous saving; bearing in mind that the Series 7 does not represent a huge step forward, making this an excellent at under £300. It's a better deal than the Black Friday price of £289.