How to Factory Reset Your Mac
If you’re experiencing performance issues, encountering malware, or simply intending to sell or give your Mac to another user, then it may be a good idea for you to perform a factory reset on your device. Depending on the model of your Mac device, however, there are two ways that you can go about doing this.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step explanation of both methods for factory resetting Mac devices so that you can restore yours to its original out-of-the-box condition.
Preparing to factory reset your Mac
If you intend to factory reset your Mac device, then it’s advisable to take precautions before beginning the process. Regardless of what Mac device or model you have, you should make sure to back up any files on your device to avoid potentially losing important data. You can do this by using Time Machine, an external drive, or iCloud.
If you’re using an older device model (i.e., one without Apple Silicon or a T2 Chip, or using an OS that predates macOS Monterey), then you may always want to sign out of iTunes, iCloud, and iMessage and de-authorize the device. Additionally, you can also log out of any licensed apps you’ve installed and unpair any Bluetooth devices you may have connected.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to reset NVRAM to clear your user settings. You can do this using these instructions:
- Power down your Mac device.
- Power your Mac back on and hold Option, Command, P, and R while it boots up.
- Continue holding the keys for approximately 20 seconds, or until you hear the startup sound twice. Then, release the keys.
- Allow your Mac to boot up as normal.
Once you’ve taken these precautions, you’re ready to factory reset your Mac device.
How to factory reset your iMac, Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro
As we’ve mentioned, there are a couple of ways to factory reset a Mac, depending on what hardware and macOS version you’re running. If you have a Mac with Apple Silicon or a T2 Chip that is operating on macOS Monterey or a later version, and assuming you have access to your administrator password, then you can perform a quick factory reset using this method:
Method 1 – For most Mac models
- Click on the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen to open the Apple menu.
- Select “System Preferences”, then open the “System Preferences” dropdown menu from the menu bar and click on “Erase All Content and Settings”.
- Enter your administrator password in the “Erase Assistant” pop-up and click “OK”.
- Follow the on-screen prompts to complete a factory reset in a matter of minutes.
Alternatively, if you are using an older model of Mac device, then you will need to perform a factory reset the old-fashioned way by putting your device in Recovery Mode and accessing Disk Utility. Fortunately, you can also use this method to perform a factory reset on your device if you don’t have access to your administrator password.
Method 2 – For older models
- Shut down your Mac, then hold Command and R while booting up to enter Recovery Mode.
- When you see the macOS Utilities screen, go to “Disk Utility” and press “Continue”.
- Choose your main start-up disk (usually “Macintosh HD”), then click “Erase”.
- Choose your desired format and click “Erase” again to confirm.
- Exit the “Disk Utility” menu and select “Reinstall macOS”.
- Click “Continue” and follow the instructions on screen to complete the process.
And that’s it. If you’ve followed the steps correctly, then you will have successfully cleared your Mac device of any files, user data, applications, custom preferences, or settings that you put on it.
With your Mac now restored to factory settings, you can go ahead and sell it or give it away without needing to worry about the privacy of your personal data. Alternatively, if you decided to perform a factory reset due to software-related performance issues, then you should find that those are now solved. In that case, you can expect a pristine user experience from your Mac, just as it was on the day that you first unboxed it.
Additional step-by-step guides to factory reset every device
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