Welcome to our guide to resetting a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. If your MacBook Air/Pro is not working properly or you want to sell it to someone else, you may want to reset your MacBook to factory settings.
In plain language, this means restoring your MacBook Pro the way it worked when you took it out of the box.
This guide will show you how to unlink your MacBook Pro with your Apple ID, back up your data, and then remove all personal information from your system. You’ll also learn how to reinstall the original version of macOS that came with your MacBook Pro over your Internet connection.
It’s easy to restore the factory settings of your MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Just keep reading this how-to guide and you will know everything you need to know about resetting the MacBook Air.
Reasons why you might want to reset your MacBook Air
There are many reasons why you might want or need to reset your MacBook Air, although this is not usually the case if your model is working properly.
- The most common reason for resetting a MacBook Air is the sale. In this case, resetting your MacBook is essential because you do not want to provide a repository of your personal information.
- In other words, you must delete your personal information and settings from the computer so that you can sell them without compromising your security and privacy.
- This is probably the most common reason why you want to reset your MacBook Air.
- Another important reason is solving performance problems. If your MacBook Air starts to slow down AND you’ve tried all the options available to optimize and improve performance, it may be time to restore it to factory settings.
This is a last-ditch strategy, but it works well in many cases. Upon completion, the MacBook Air will be in a similar condition as when it was first removed from the package.
This article is for readers with a MacBook Air, but there is also an article on how to reset a MacBook Pro.
First of all, make a backup of your MacBook Air before you reset it, especially if you plan to reuse it or use your files and documents with a new Mac.
How to reset MacBook to factory settings
Probably the most common way to back up is to use Time Machine, a pre-installed Apple app that saves your files (such as music, photos, apps) to an external drive. To create a backup with Time Machine:
- First of all, connect an external storage device
- Click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of the screen (on the left of the top menu bar)
- Click System Preferences
- Click Time Machine
- Click Select Backup Disk
- Select your external drive, then click Encrypt backups and then Use Disk
- Finally, click the ON button (on the left-hand column of the Time Machine window), if it isn’t already in the ‘ON’ position
After you click “Use Disk” (or “On“), Time Machine will soon make a backup of your MacBook Air. Later, after your MacBook Air is reset to factory defaults, you can restore this backup by using your external hard drive reconnect to the Mac and then follow the instructions on the screen.
Time Machine is generally recommended for most MacBook Air users, but it cannot do everything a backup app can do. For example, your files and apps are copied, but no so-called “bootable clone” of your MacBook Air is created. This is required if your MacBook (or other MacBook Air) should be running just as before.
For this reason, you should download a free third-party backup app such as SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cleaner.
1 How to Reset MacBook Air: Sign Out of Your ‘iServices’
There is a small but important thing to do if you reset your MacBook Air to sell or give away. To do this, you must log out of the various Apple services that you have signed in to on your Macbook, such as iTunes, iCloud and iMessage.
HOW TO SIGN OUT OF ICLOUD
- Click the Apple icon in the top-left corner of the MacBook Air’s screen (it’s in the top menu bar)
- Click System Preferences…
- Click iCloud
- Click Sign Out
HOW TO SIGN OUT OF ITUNES
- Open iTunes
- Scroll up to the menu bar at the top of the MacBook Air’s screen and click Account
- From the dropdown menu that appears, click Authorizations
- Click De-authorize This Computer…
- Enter your Apple ID and Password
- Click De-authorize
HOW TO SIGN OUT OF iMessage
- Press Command + Space Bar simultaneously
- Type Messages and press Enter
- Click Messages (in the menu bar at the top of Mac’s screen)
- Click Preferences…
- Click the iMessage tab
- Click the Sign Out button, which will be on the right-hand side of your Apple ID
This completes all the steps you need to complete if you want to sell or distribute your MacBook Air to friends or family. Next is the actual reset step as described below.
2 How to Reset MacBook Air: Performing a Factory Reset
To reset your MacBook Air to factory defaults, you must first boot your Mac in recovery mode. To do this, hold down Command + R when you restart or turn on your MacBook Air. Hold down both keys until you see the Apple logo.
After the Apple logo is displayed and the boot process is complete, the Utilities window appears. Here you can delete your hard disk and perform the reset. Here is how do you do it:
- Click Disk Utility
- Click on Continue
- Click View> Show All Devices
- Select your Hard Drive (eg “APPLE SSD”) and click on Erase.
- In the Format field, select APFS if you are using macOS High Sierra or higher. If you are using macOS Sierra or earlier, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
- Click Erase
- Caution!! – you can’t undo feature for erasing the SSD in your MacBook Air. Make sure you have backed up all your data before clicking Erase.
This is how the fatal process of cleaning your MacBook Air’s hard disk begins. It may take a couple of minutes for the process to complete. You might want to make a pot of coffee or calisthenics. Once this is done, you can reinstall macOS as follows:
- On the Utilities menu, click Reinstall macOS
- Press Next
- Finally, follow the instructions on the screen to complete the installation
One last note: If you’re selling or giving away your MacBook Air, you’ll want to quit after completing the installation and NOT continue with setting up your new Mac when you get to the splash screen. To stop after the installation is complete and leave the MacBook Air in the factory state, press Command + Q, and then click Shut Down.
When you do this, the MacBook Air will start the setup process the same way it was when it was brand new the next time you turn it on.
How to reset MacBook Pro
Unlink your Apple ID
If you want to give away your MacBook Pro, you’ll need to unlink it from your Apple ID, otherwise, the new owner might not be able to sign in through iCloud. The easiest way to do this is to start your MacBook Pro,
- Go to System Preferences> iCloud and select “Sign Out“. You can safely delete local copies of iCloud data on your Mac as they are backed up to Apple’s servers.
- Alternatively, you can open any web browser, visit the iCloud website, and sign in with your Apple ID. Choose Find My iPhone. Your MacBook Pro is listed under “All Devices”.
- Select your MacBook Pro and click “Remove from Account“. Repeat these steps for each person who signed in to your MacBook with their Apple ID.
Backup your Data
Although you may want to reset your MacBook Pro to the default settings, you may have data such as documents, photos, and videos that you want to keep.
- If you are backing up from Time Machine, insert the selected drive into your MacBook Pro, click the Time Machine icon at the top of the screen, and choose Back Up Now.
- If you have not yet backed up your MacBook Pro, there has never been a better time than it is now. To use Time Machine, first find a blank external hard drive with a capacity that is at least equivalent to that of your MacBook Pro. 500 GB
- Connect the drive to your device. The Mac OS asks you if you want to use this drive for backup purposes.
- Click to confirm and the backup process starts automatically. This can take several hours. You can buy drives specially formatted for macOS at the Apple Online Store, but any external hard drive can be used because Time Machine automatically formats them to be Mac-compatible.
This process deletes all data already on the drive. Be sure to use a new or empty one.
Format your hard drive
- Once Time Machine finishes backing up your files, safely disconnect the drive by opening Finder, and then click the eject icon next to the drive name.
- Store the backup drive in a safe place and shut down your MacBook Pro. After the device completely shuts down, make sure the AC adapter is plugged in and hold down Cmd + Alt + R before rebooting the MacBook Pro.
- If all goes well, the words “Starting Internet Recovery” and the image of a spinning globe appear on your screen.
- Release the buttons and wait for the Internet Recovery recovery to complete.
- If a small progress bar does not appear on the screen, click the name of your wireless network and enter your password. That way, your MacBook Pro can download the tools you need.
After loading the recovery area, click Disk Utility, and then click Continue. The hard disk of your MacBook Pro appears in the white box on the left. The default name is “Macintosh HD”.
Click to highlight this drive in blue, and then select the Erase button. Make sure the format is set to macOS Extended (Journaled), and then click the Delete button.
If your hard drive has been completely erased, click “Disk Utility” in the top left corner of the screen and select “Quit“. This will return you to the main page of the Internet Recovery area.
Click the Wi-Fi icon in the upper-right corner of the screen and make sure you see a black checkmark next to the name of your Wi-Fi network. If not, click the network name to connect.
Once you have done this, click on the second option in the middle of the screen labeled “Reinstall MacOS” or “Reinstall OS X“. Then click on “Continue“. This will start the New Installation Wizard. Note that this is usually the operating system that was originally shipped with your MacBook Pro, not necessarily the latest version of macOS.
This is because you are using the internet recovery tools. If you use the default Mac recovery area to reinstall macOS, the operating system will be associated with your Apple ID, requiring a password for each software update.
This is not required for Internet recovery tools. This is very useful if you are sharing your MacBook Pro with someone else.
If you want the latest version of macOS, convince them to sign in to the App Store and download them with their Apple ID once the reinstallation is complete.
The duration of the reinstallation depends on your connection speed. Meanwhile, plug your MacBook Pro into the power outlet with the lid open.
Using the Setup Assistance
Once the Mac OS has been successfully reinstalled, your MacBook Pro will launch the Setup Wizard. This is the installation wizard you went through when you first purchased the device.
If you want to sell or give away your MacBook Pro, you can now shut it down. The new owner can then restart the setup wizard and enter its details when it is ready.
If you reset your MacBook Pro to its factory setting to fix a problem such as a slow system,
- click Next to accept the default language. The setup wizard will next let you connect to Wi-Fi.
- Click on the name of your network and then enter your Wi-Fi password.
- The wizard then asks if you want to transfer information to this MacBook Pro. This migration feature is very useful for users who want to buy new devices and transfer data from an old Mac.
- Using it here may also restore the software problem that caused you to reset your MacBook Pro!
Select “Don’t transfer now” and “Don’t log in” when prompted to enter your Apple ID and password. The Setup Wizard now prompts you to enter your full name and password to create an administrator account on your MacBook Pro.
Enter the name “Test” and the password “test12345” to get to the macOS desktop. Now, here, you may be asked to sign in with your Apple ID. Select “Do not log in” again.
If you have had a problem with macOS before, for example, E-mail cannot be opened. Now try rebuilding the email to see if the problem persists. If this is the case, the problem is probably the hardware. Visit the Apple Website to find an Apple Store near you or an authorized repair shop to have your MacBook Pro inspected.
How to wipe a Mac hard drive (HDD)
1. Make sure your Mac is turned off.
2. Press the power button.
3. Immediately hold down the command and the R key.
4. Wait for the Apple logo to appear.
5. Select Disk Utility from the list of OS X utilities. Click on Continue.
6. Select the hard drive to be deleted by clicking on it in the sidebar.
7. Click the Delete button.
8. Click the Security Options button.
9. The Security Options window contains a slider that you can use to determine how thoroughly you want to erase your hard drive.
This security options slider has four notches. “Fastest” is fast but unsafe – data may be recoverable using a data recovery app. Moving this slider to the right will make deletion more and more secure. Disk Utility’s highest level of security erases the information used to access the files on your hard drive. Then zeros are written seven times on the hard disk surface to remove any traces. This setting corresponds to the DoD 5220.22-M specification.
10. Click the “OK” button once you have selected the desired security level for deletion.
11. Click the Delete button to get started. Remember that the safer you choose, the longer it will take. The safest methods can add hours to the process.
Once that’s done, Mac’s hard drive is instantly clean and ready for the next adventure: a fresh install of OS X, donated to a relative or local charity, or simply sent to an electrical waste facility. Of course, you can still drill a hole in your hard drive or smash it with a sledgehammer if it makes you happy, but now you know how to erase the data from your old computer with much less riot.
Some tips for Macbook cleanup
1. Go through your application folder, removing all unused applications.
2. Remove all localization files not used for your language, this can free up to 2GB of space.
3. Open iPhoto and delete photos you no longer need. iPhoto has its own application trash so remember to empty that.
4. Open iTunes and delete all of the music and podcasts you no longer need.
5. Go through your Documents, Movies, and Pictures folder, deleting any junk you no longer use.
6. Clear out old email messages in Mail or another email program.
7. Go to ~/Library/Caches/, and delete anything you see from applications you no longer have installed. Repeat the process in ~/Library/Preferences/.
8. Go to ~/Library/Safari/, and delete the “Icons” folder.
9. If you don’t need it, remove the Xcode installer, located in /Applications/Installers/.
10. Remove unnecessary iChat icons from ~/Pictures/iChat Icons/.
Mac computers have long had a reputation for being essentially immune to viruses and other types of malware. While still much more secure than Windows systems, Macs are still vulnerable to malware, and this is a growing problem.
Force Restart Methods
1. Press “Control,” “Command” and “Esc” at the same time. If an application is frozen you may not need to reboot.
2. Press and hold the power button for about five to seven seconds. The computer should shut down.
3. Press “Control” and “Command” while you press the power button.
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