How to Factory Reset a MacBook or Any Mac Computer

Just like you can erase everything from an iPhone and set it up as a brand new device, you can do the same with your MacBook. The steps to do this are straightforward but require time and patience. Once you erase your Mac, it will be internally fresh. Let me tell you more about this process and then show you how to factory reset a MacBook and any Mac computer.

Why You May Want to Factory Reset Your MacBook?

  • If you are selling your Mac, it is essential to factory reset it. This will ensure that your personal data is not carried over to the new user.
  • If you are planning to trade in your Mac to Apple or other such companies.
  • It is also recommended to factory reset your Mac if you are passing it on to a family member or friend.
  • In the normal course, most Mac problems can be addressed without this big step. We have several tutorials to help you with specific macOS issues. But in case nothing seems to work, or if the internal drive isn’t readable, you may perform a full reset.
  • Just want to start afresh with a clean Mac!

What to Do Before You Reset a MacBook?

  • Backup Your Mac: You can use Time Machine to safely backup everything. If you have less data, you may manually copy those to an external hard disk/SSD, pen drive, cloud storage services, etc.
  • Sign Out of iTunes: If you are on macOS Mojave or earlier, open iTunes, → click on Account from the top menu bar → Authorizations → Deauthorize This Computer → enter your Apple ID and password when asked.
  • Sign Out of iCloud (very important): On macOS Catalina or later: Click on the Apple logo from the top left → System Preferences → Apple ID → Overview → Sign Out. On macOS Mojave or earlier, click on iCloud inside System Preferences and choose Sign Out.
  • Sign Out of iMessage: Open the Messages app on your Mac. Click on Messages from the top menu bar. Next, click on Preferences → Sign Out.
  • Reset NVRAM: Shut down the Mac and then turn it on. Immediately after turning it on, press and hold together Option + Command + P + R. Let go of the keys after 20 seconds. See this detailed guide, if needed.

After you have followed the above steps, it is time to factory reset the Mac. Before proceeding, make sure you have a reliable, secured internet connection.

How to Factory Reset Your MacBook Pro or any Mac

1. Shut down your Mac, if not already: For this, click on the Apple logo from the top left and choose Shut Down. You may also Restart the Mac and immediately press the keys mentioned in the next step.

2. Press the power button on your MacBook or iMac to turn it on and immediately press & hold the Command (⌘) + R keys. Leave the keys when you see the Apple logo, globe, or any such element on the screen. If you aren’t successful, try again. This time keep pressing the keys even after you see the Apple logo. Once the progress bar starts to move very slowly, leave the keys.

3. From the macOS Utilities, click on Disk UtilityContinue.

Select Disk Utility and Click on Continue on Mac

4. In Disk Utility, you will see all the drives. Under the heading ‘Internal,’ you will see the internal Mac drives. We will erase these/this.

If you are on macOS Catalina or macOS Big Sur:

You will see at least two drives under ‘Internal.’ It will be ‘Macintosh HD’ or ‘your name.’ This read-only disk has the operating system in it. Below it, the second drive would be named ‘Macintosh HD – Data‘ or ‘your name – Data.’ In this disk, your files are stored.

Select the second drive, which is the one with the word ‘– Data‘ in it. Now, click on Edit from the top menu bar and then click on Delete APFS Volume. Now, select Delete. Do not choose Delete Volume Group. Let the process complete.

Click on Data in Under Internal in Disk Utility on Mac

Click on Edit from Menu Bar and Then Select Delete AFPS Volume on Mac

Now, open Disk Utility again and select the first disk, below the word ‘Internal.’ Follow the same steps to delete this volume as well.

If you see an error message while deleting this drive, select it, and choose Unmount. Next, from the Disk Utility, select this disk again and choose Erase. In format, choose APFS, and click Erase. Disk Utility will show the compatible format by default. Follow the on-screen steps.

After this, click on Disk Utility from the left of the top menu bar and choose Quit Disk Utility. You have successfully erased all the data and the operating system. The next necessary process involves reinstalling macOS (step 5).

If you are on macOS Mojave or earlier:

This is relatively simpler than the above method. You will most likely see only one disk under ‘Internal.’ Select the top one and choose Erase. Proceed with the on-screen instructions. You can give it the desired name. In format, choose APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) (for older Macs). Disk Utility will show the compatible format by default.

Once it completes, click on Disk Utility from the top menu bar → Quit Disk Utility. Now, let us reinstall the OS.

5. Important: Reinstall macOS – For this, click on Reinstall macOS. Connect to a Wi-Fi network or wired connection. Click Continue, follow the on-screen instructions, choose a disk to install macOS, and let the installation complete. It will take considerable time. During this process, Mac may restart multiple times. [This post on How to start your Mac in Internet Recovery Mode might help.]

Select Reinstall macOS and Click on Continue

6. Once macOS is installed, you will see the setup assistant. If you will be using the Mac, continue with the simple on-screen setup process. However, if you are selling or giving away this Mac, press Command + Q to quit the assistant. Then Shut Down the machine. The new owner will set it up with his Apple ID and desired preferences.

Signing Off

This is how you can fully reset your Mac. Obviously, the above steps are applicable for all Macs like iMac, iMac Pro, Mac mini, etc. and portable notebooks like the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, etc. If you have any questions, please ask in the comments down below.

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I have been an Apple user for over seven years now. At iGeeksBlog, I love creating how-tos and troubleshooting guides that help people do more with their iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, and Apple Watch. In my free time, I like to watch stand up comedy videos, tech documentaries, news debates, and political speeches.