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How to reset a Mac

Lucy Hattersley | May 26, 2016
Wipe your iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or MacBook and restore the original factory settings

How do I reset my Mac to factory settings? It's a question that many Mac OS X users ask prior to selling or handing on a beloved Mac. It's safer to pass on a Mac with personal information removed, and a clean version of Mac OS X looks healthier to the buyer. Our guide to clearing all your information and data from a Mac enables you to reset Mac OS X to an unblemished factory state, as it was fresh out of the box. Discover how to wipe all your personal information from Mac OS X on an iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and MacBook.

Here are the general steps to reset your hard drive (they are outlined in detail below):

Make sure you are connected to the Internet so you can download the latest copy of Mac OS X.

  1. Use an app like SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner to clone your internal hard drive to an external drive. This enables you to access all your old files, and the drive can be re-cloned to the internal drive if you want to restore your Mac.
  2. Deauthorize your iTunes store account. (You should also deauthorize any third-party apps, such as Photoshop, that are locked to your Mac).
  3. Turn off FileVault (if you are using it).
  4. Sign out of iCloud.
  5. Restart the Mac in Recovery Mode (hold down Command and the R key during restart).
  6. Use Disk Utility to erase the hard drive. Click on Disk Utility > Continue. Select the main volume and click Unmount then Erase). Quit Disk Utility (Disk Utility > Quit Disk Utility).
  7. Click Reinstall OS X and Continue. Follow the instructions to reinstall Mac OS X.

How to reset an iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or MacBook to factory settings

Step 1: Clone your hard drive

Carbon Copy Cloner

The process of resetting a MacBook to factory settings gets rid of all your data from the Mac. Obviously, you should transfer data from your old Mac to a new one, but it's worth making a clone of the whole hard drive and keeping it around for a while. The best way to do this is using a program like Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper along with an external hard drive (both options are now paid-for sadly). Choose your main hard drive in the source, and your external hard drive in the Destination. Now click on Clone.

You should be able to boot from the cloned external hard drive. To test this, reset your Mac and hold down Option when you first boot up your Mac. Use the arrow keys on your Mac to select the external drive and tap Enter. This cloned drive can be re-cloned back to the main drive if you decide to restore your Mac, or it can be used to access all the original files from your computer after you have wiped the internal hard drive.

 

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