Mastodon Mastodon

Repurpose your old laptop into a simple web browsing computer for an elderly person

I had an old 15″ MacBook Pro from 2008 lying around that I had yet to purge. The battery needs to be replaced, but the rest of the hardware is in great condition and is completely sufficient for most basic computer tasks—which nearly all can occur in a web browser.

Computers are expensive, and take a lot of resources to manufacture, and it’s frustrating that they become obsolete so quickly. Mind you, it’s not because the hardware isn’t up to many simple computing tasks, but simply because software makers no longer want to support that older model.

Instead, they’d much prefer you shell out gobs of money for the latest and greatest, even if you’re primarily just browsing the web, scrolling on social media, or checking email.

At the same time, it’s hard to get by without Internet access these days. Nearly all services are delivered online somehow.

If you’re older adult and you want to keep in touch with the world—read the news, check the sports scores, write an email to your family, check your bank statement, confirm an upcoming doctor appointment through that newfangled portal—then you need a working computer, because we all know you’re going to struggle with a small phone screen and tiny keyboard.

There’s an older guy named John who is a regular at the local bar I’d bring my dad to. He eschews technology, famously solely watches black and white tv shows, and only uses cash. He’s frugal—he always ordering a (comically large) Foster’s on “Cantastic Tuesday” when all canned beers are $4, just so he can get the most volume per dollar. So instead of buying a computer, he goes to the local public library a few times a week to check his email, which can be a pain.

So when I was looking for what to do with that 15″ MacBook Pro I somehow hadn’t yet purged, I thought about how I could make it work for him.

The hardware was still more than adequate for everything he’d need to do. But the software was a problem. You couldn’t update the OS anymore, and a number of Mac features had been depreciated and no longer worked. I would need to find a different operating system.

Enter Google’s ChromeOS Flex.

ChromeOS is basically a browser-based operation system, which is a great solution for someone like my buddy John. Yes, you need a Google account and the entire experience is very Google-centric.

But John doesn’t care about that, he just needs a super-simple way to check email, load, and occasionally use other websites. It offers everything he needs, it’s very easy to use, and it’s constantly updated. It’s also free, and easy to install. You just need a usb stick.

So if you have an older computer you’re not using, this could be a great solution for an older adult you know.

First, see if the device you have is “certified” for ChromeOS.

If so, then grab a blank usb drive and check out the installation guide.

1 thought on “Repurpose your old laptop into a simple web browsing computer for an elderly person”

Leave a Reply