Knowing how to reset a Mac to factory settings can come in handy if you are facing some problem with the Mac or if you want to clean install MacOS. Even if you are planning to sell your old mac or decided to give it out to a relative and siblings, resetting the device to factory setting will help you get rid of all the sensitive data in the machine.
If you are unaware of the procedure to reset a Mac, this guide will precisely guide you through the required steps to do the same.
Before you post an ad to sell your Mac on an online listing, it is only wise to clear off all the files and data from the device. The Mac comes with a built-in reset function (reformatting), so you don’t need to use any third-party tool to factory reset the Mac.
If you are passing of the Mac to a sibling or relative, you may also want to clean install MacOS after resetting it to factory settings.
1. Create a Backup
If you are selling your Mac, you need to create a backup of Mac data so that you can restore the data to your new Mac. Even if you are only trying to clean install the MacOS after reset, you need the backup to restore the data.
You can create complete Mac backup using Time Machine. Time Machine is a built-in Apple data backup program that backs up all of your files to an external storage device. Here is how to do it.
Connect a USB flash drive or external hard drive to the USB port of your Mac.
Click Finder and select System Preferences from the menu.
Click and open Times Machine icon at the bottom left.
Click Select Backup Disk and also select the external storage device to which the backup needs to be saved.
Click on the Times Machine menu and select Back Up Now to start the backup process. It may take longer, so wait.
The Time Machine will display a “Backup Complete” message as soon as the backup is created.
2. Sign Out of iTunes, iCloud and iMessage
It is important that you sign out of everything that may disclose your personal information or purchase history to the buyer. One way to make sure that the buyer does not get access to your personal information is to sign out from all the Apple services on the Mac including iTunes, iCloud and iMessage.
Sign out of iTunes
Launch iTunes on your Mac.
From the Menu bar click Account and click Sign out.
That will sign you out from the iTunes. The buyer must enter his/her Apple ID details to log in.
Sign out of iCloud
Your iCloud account may know more about you then you know about yourself. So, it is important that you sign out of iCloud account as well.
From the home screen, click on Apple icon and select System Preferences.
Select iCloud and then uncheck Find My Mac option.
Enter your system password and click on Sign Out. Also, click on “Remove data from this Mac” if asked.
Also, read >> Beginners Guide to iCloud
Sign out of iMessage
Open Messages app on your Mac.
From the Menu bar at the left, select Messages and then Preferences from the drop-down menu.
Select iMessage Account and click Sign Out from the right side of the screen.
3. Turn Off FileVault
FileVault encrypts all the data in your Mac to keep it secure, and it happens automatically. However, when you want to reset the Mac to factory settings, it is better to turn off File Vault.
Open System Preferences and click on Security and Privacy.
Select the FileVault tab. Here if the FileVault is turned On then click the padlock icon and enter your password.
Click on Unlock and then click Turn Off FileVault.
4. Create Bootable MacOS USB Flash Drive
After resetting the Mac to factory settings, you need to clean install MacOS before you can use it again. To do this, either you can download the MacOS from the Apple server after the reset or can create a bootable flash drive beforehand and use it instead of waiting for the MacOS installer to download before being able to install it.
Creating a bootable MacOS USB flash drive is easy. Follow the guide and once you have created the bootable USB flash drive, proceed with the resetting process.
5. Reformat / Erase the Hard Drive
Assuming that you have backed up all the data and have signed out of all the Apple service, it is time to erase the Mac by reformatting the HDD.
Shutdown the Mac and restart it.
When the Mac starts to boot up, press and hold Command+R keys simultaneously. This will force the Mac to boot into macOS Recovery mode.
From the Recovery mode, select Disk Utility and click Continue.
Select the Startup Disk (make sure you select the right disk).
Click on Erase button ( from the top menu).
Select the disk format as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the drop-down menu.
Select Scheme as GUID Partition Map from the drop-down menu.
Finally, click on Erase and wait for the formatting process to complete.
Quit the disk utility by click on Disk Utility > Quit Disk Utility.
5. Clean Install MacOS
Now that you have erased the hard drive it is time to clean install MacOS. Doing a clean install of MacOS is easy if you have a bootable flash drive. If not, you need to download MacOS installer first and then do a clean install.
Insert the bootable MacOS USB flash drive into the Mac and boot the Mac. It is optional, If you don’t have a bootable flash drive then simply start the Mac and proceed with next steps, as you can download the MacOS installer later.
Press and hold the Command + R keys simultaneously during the startup to boot into recovery mode.
In the recovery mode, select Reinstall MacOS and click on Continue.
Select the hard drive where you want to install the MacOS and click Install. The installation will complete, and the setup screen will be visible.
Proceed with the setup process if you are going to use the Mac. If not, leave the setup to be completed by the new owner.
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You have successfully reset a Mac to Factory Settings. You can now sell or lend the Mac to anyone without having to worry about your data being misused or stolen.
Do let us know if you have any questions in the comments.