How to factory reset a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or any Mac

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With macOS 12 Monterey or later on select Macs, you can easily wipe and reset your computer using a built-in feature called “Wipe Wizard” that you can find in System Preferences. Here’s how to do it.

Requirements (and tips for older Macs)

Starting with macOs Monterey (macOS 12), released in 2021, System Preferences now have an “Erase All Content and Settings” option similar to those found on iPhone and iPad. It only appears if your Mac has a T2 security chip or is powered by Apple Silicon.

If you have a Mac running a version of macOS earlier than macOS Monterey, or your Mac lacks the hardware features listed above, you’ll need to perform a series of more complex steps to factory reset your Mac, such as reinstalling a copy of macOS. from recovery mode. Fortunately, we explain how to do this in a separate article aimed at older machines, but we’ll also cover the process briefly below.

Alternatively, if the Mac you want to erase includes a T2 or Apple Silicon chip and supports updating to macOS Monterey or later, you can perform the operating system update first before using the “Erase All Content and Settings” feature to erase your Mac. Mac.

RELATED: How to update your Mac and keep apps up to date

How to erase all content and settings on a newer Mac

If you have a Mac that uses Apple Silicon or has a T2 security chip running macOS Monterey or later, you can quickly erase your Mac using System Preferences. To get started, click the Apple icon in the menu bar at the top left corner of the screen. In the menu that appears, select “System Preferences”.

When System Preferences opens, ignore the window that appears and look at the top of the screen again. Click “System Preferences” in the menu bar and choose “Erase All Content and Settings” from the menu.

An application called “Erase Wizard” will open and ask you for an administrator account name and password. You can type the name and password of any local account on your Mac that has administrator privileges.

In Erase Assistant, type the administrator username and password.

You may then be prompted to back up to Time Machine, which is always a good idea anyway. If so, open Time Machine and follow the instructions to back up your data to an external drive. When you’re done, click “Continue” on the Wipe Wizard.

After the optional Time Machine dialog (which may not appear on some machines), the Erase All Content and Settings window will appear. Click the caret next to your account name and you’ll see a list of actions that the Wipe Wizard will take in the following steps. Click “Continue” when you are ready to proceed.

Then enter your Apple ID and password to sign out of Apple ID. After that, you will see a warning screen.

Warning: Before proceeding, make absolutely sure that you have backups of your data on your Mac before erasing your Mac. You will lose any data, apps, settings, documents, photos, or videos that are stored on your Mac.

When you’re ready, and only if you’ve backed up everything, click “Erase all content and settings.” Be careful: you will not be able to undo this step.

After clicking, your Mac will restart and display a progress bar as it erases everything on your device. When you’re done, you’ll be prompted to set up your Mac again, and you can start from scratch like a new Mac, or hand it over to someone else to set up later.

RELATED: How to back up your Mac and restore files with Time Machine

How to factory reset an older Mac

If you’re running macOS Big Sur or earlier, or have a Mac that isn’t running Apple Silicon or doesn’t have a T2 security chip, you’ll need to go through a more complex series of steps to erase your Mac and reinstall macOS, especially if you’re going to sell or give away your Mac to someone else.

First, back up your files with Time Machine and make sure the backup worked by examining the files on the external drive. If you don’t have backups, you will lose all the data stored on the Mac you are about to erase.

Next, you’ll need to perform several account sign-outs, which are important if you give your Mac to someone else. Sign out of iTunes if you have a Pre-Catalina version of macOS (Account > Authorizations > Deauthorize this computer). Also, sign out of iCloud in System Preferences (System Preferences > Apple ID > Overview > Sign Out), then sign out of iMessage in the Messages app (Messages > Preferences > iMessage > Sign Out).

After that, you will need to enter recovery mode. Shut down your Mac (Apple menu > Shut Down), then turn it back on and press Command + R when you see the Apple logo on the screen. Enter an administrator password if necessary, then click “Disk Utility” on the menu that appears.

Once in Disk Utility, select “Macintosh HD” in the sidebar. Make sure you have backups, then click “Delete” on the toolbar. Warning: You will lose all data on the drive!

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When you’re done erasing the drive, exit Disk Utility using the menu bar and select “Reinstall macOS” from the Recovery menu, then follow the on-screen instructions.

If you’re giving your Mac to someone else, press Command + Q in Setup Assistant and turn off the Mac. When you turn it back on, press Option + Command + P + R and hold for about 20 seconds. This will reset NVRAM, which erases user settings for a special type of memory on your Mac. After that, you can set up the Mac again or press Command + Q to shut down the Mac, and it’s ready for a new owner. Good luck!

RELATED: What is NVRAM and when should I reset it on my Mac?