If you plan to sell an old MacBook or try to solve problems with old Macbook by uploading a clean software for installation, first you need to reset your Mac to factory settings. What is the best way to reset your Mac?
Fortunately, it’s easy to remove all data and content from the Mac before selling it – and it’s very important if you do not want to allow identity theft.
Remember that if you are selling or moving an old computer, deleting your personal information is not enough – you need to be sure that the MacOS factory version installed after wiping is running.
You can also check our guide to remove or reset your iPhone or iPad.
Guide to wiping all data from a Mac computer allows you to reset your device to its factory, clean and working MacOS installation.
Here’s how to reset your Mac.
- Make sure you have an Internet connection so that you can download the latest copy of the Mac operating system that can run on your computer. This is probably macOS High Sierra, but an older Mac may require an earlier version of OS X.
- Use applications such as SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner to clone your internal hard drive to an external drive. This allows access to all old files, and the drive can be re-cloned on the internal drive if you want to restore your Mac. Read more about this step.
- Unlocking an account in the iTunes Store. (Uninstall third-party applications such as Photoshop that is locked on your Mac). More information about this step here.
- Turn off FileVault if you use it. Read more about this step.
- Log out and turn off iCloud. Read more about this step.
- Restart your Mac in recovery mode. Hold Command and R while restarting – or use an alternative key combination (see full description for more).
- Use the disk utility to erase the hard disk. Click Disk Utility> Continue. Select the main volume and click Unmount and then Delete.) Close Disk Utility (Disk Utility> Quit Disk Utility). More about this step.
- Click Reinstall OS X and continue. Follow the instructions to reinstall the MacOS operating system. Read more about this step.
Cloning the Mac hard drive
The process of resetting the Mac or MacBook to factory defaults gets rid of all the machine data stored on it. Of course, you should transfer the data from the old Mac to the new one, but it is worth to make a clone of the whole hard drive and keep it for a while.
The best way to do this is to use a program such as Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper along with an external hard drive (formerly they were free, but unfortunately both options are now paid). Select the primary hard disk drive in the source and the external hard disk drive at the destination. Now click on Clone.
You should be able to run from a cloned external hard drive. To check this, reset the Mac and hold the Option key the first time you start your Mac. Use the arrow keys on the Mac to select the external drive and press Enter.
This cloned disk can be cloned back to the main drive if you decide to play it or it can be used to access all original files from your computer after wiping the internal hard disk.
You should uninstall the computer from iTunes. This means that your iTunes account will no longer be linked. Only up to five Macs can be used to play music and videos locked in your iTunes account, so do not transfer it to another person.
The exact method of deactivating iTunes varies depending on the version. In the latest version (above) open iTunes and click Account> Authorizations> Dez authorize this computer. Enter your Apple ID and password, and then click De-authorization.
In older versions (below), click Store> Deauthorise This Computer.
Soon you wipe files, so you should not worry about security.
Open System Preferences and click Security and privacy, and then select the FileVault tab. Check if “FileVault is disabled for the [main hard disk drive]”. If not, click the lock icon in the lower left corner, enter the password and click the Unlock button. Now click Disable FileVault.
Turn off iCloud
Open System Preferences. Then click iCloud and tap Logout Now. To delete all personal data, click “Remove from Mac” on each pop-up window (although you will have to wipe the hard drive in the next step).
Restart your Mac in recovery mode
The best way to enter the recovery mode is to click the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the screen and select Restart, then hold down the Command and R keys until you see the Apple logo or the disc. But it can be better using a different key combination.
Apple recommends “If you sell or give away a Mac that uses OS X El Capitan or earlier, use Option-Command-R Make sure the installation is not associated with your Apple ID.” Read the three different key combinations that you can use to go into recovery mode, and the differences between them, here.
The next screen you will see is the Utilities Mode Recovery window. In Sierra it looks like this:
Remove the Mac drive
Select the Disk Utility option and click Continue.
Select the main hard disk drive (usually referred to as the Macintosh HD in the sidebar on the left – you are looking for the disk name instead of typing the volume name in this field). To wipe the hard drive, click Delete or open the Remove tab and click Delete.
Remember that it permanently deletes all data from the hard disk, so do not use it if you do not clone the disk or you will never get anything on this disk.
When you’re done, go to the main menu and select Disk Utility> Quit Disk Utility.
Please install macOS again
Now select “Reinstall macOS” or “Reinstall OS X” and follow the instructions on the screen. This will download and install an empty copy of macOS on your Mac. MacOS will be restarted after installation. You may be asked for an Apple ID and password.
If you’re going through a machine, it’s a good idea to ask for a legacy solution and allow the person buying the Mac to enter their own information.