Looking to wipe your laptop? Here’s how to restore a Mac to its factory settings

restore a Mac to its factory settings
Feel like you need a clean slate? If so, you can easily restore the factory settings on your Mac whenever you want. Doing so will erase all your data and everything you’ve done on your computer, essentially bringing it back to the state it was in when you first took it out of the box.

Typically, losing everything on your Mac would be cause for concern, but there are scenarios in which restoring your laptop can prove invaluable. The most common is when you want to sell your computer using a service such as eBay or Craigslist. After all, no buyer is going to want a computer with a hard drive full of someone else’s data when they have great MacOS apps of their own to download.

Part of this includes deauthorizing your computer in iTunes, which will remove any personalized login information. However, you should also restore a Mac to its factory settings if you plan on selling or gifting it to someone else. Here, we’ll show you how to go the extra mile and wipe it completely.

Looking for more Apple-centric tutorials? Lucky for you, we also have guides on how to uninstall apps on a Mac and how to back up your Mac to an external hard drive.

Erasing your Mac

Apple Logo Startup
Take one last look around, and double check to make sure your Mac is currently connected to the internet, preferably through a hard-line connection. Erasing your hard drive is simple, but you’ll need a way to access  your Mac’s factory settings once you’ve finished wiping it. For this, you’ll need internet connectivity. If you’re erasing data on a MacBook of any kind, plug in the power adapter first, so there’s no danger of running out of battery power.

Once done, select the Restart… option in the Apple menu, and wait patiently for your Mac to shut down and begin its startup procedure. During the restart process, before the login screen, your computer will show a gray slate screen. This is your opportunity to go behind the scenes: Hold down both the Command and R keys when you see gray.Disk Utility Mac

This should open the Utilities pane, where you can make various important and potentially dangerous changes. Here, select Disk Utility.

Now, this process is going to be a little different based on what version of MacOS you’re using, but you’ll want to be on the lookout for “startup disk” or other startup-related information. Select this option and click on the Erase tab.

Next, head over to the Format option and set it to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Then, select Erase again. This may take some time. Once finished, go to the Disk Utility menu and select Quit Disk Utility.

Reinstalling the OS

Now that you’ve erased everything that made your Mac special, you’ll need to restore the operating system. Once you quit Disk Utility, you should see an option to Reinstall MacOS. Select this, confirm that you really want to do it, and proceed. You may have to click through a few confirmations before the installation is ready to begin.

MacOS Reinstall

Since Apple keeps all the factory setting data on its own servers, your computer will need to be connected to the internet in order to proceed. Once connected, your Mac can look for its original source material and download a new, off-the-assembly-line version of all its settings.

Note: This download solution only works with newer versions of MacOS. This shouldn’t be an issue for modern devices — all of which are designed download factory settings from the web — but if you’re working with Snow Leopard or an earlier version of MacOS, you can’t reinstall these from the web. You’ll need the original MacOS installation disc that came with your computer in order to do so, so get ready to dig it out if necessary.

Also, when you reinstall MacOS, you will see a setup assistant that will ask you basic questions regarding your region and so on. If you plan on selling or giving your Mac away, you’ll want to leave the setup assistant untouched. Instead, hold down the Command and Q keys, and select Shut Down. This will turn your Mac off and leave the setup assistant waiting for next time.

Computing

Google Chrome 70 is finally getting a picture-in-picture mode

Picture-in-picture mode is finally coming to Google Chrome 70 on Mac, Linux, and Windows. The feature not only applies to YouTube but also any other website where developers have chosen to implement it.
Mobile

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from XS on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step by step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Home Theater

Want to save your favorite movie? Here's how to fix a scratched DVD or CD

A scratched edition of your favorite DVD is no good, but our guide will show you how to fix a scratched DVD, whether you prefer to repair it using a smattering of peanut butter or Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Computing

Intel's 9th-gen chips could power your next rig. Here's what you need to know

The Intel Core i9-9900K processor was the star of the show for consumers, but a powerful 28-core Xeon processor also led announcements. Here's everything you need to know about the latest Intel chipsets.
Computing

Despite serious security flaws, D-Link will (again) not patch some routers

D-Link revealed that it won't patch six router models despite warnings raised by a security researcher. The manufacturer, for the second time in a span of about a year, cited end-of-life policies for its decision to not act.
Computing

Core i9s and Threadrippers are all powerful, but should you go AMD or Intel?

The battle for the top prosumer CPUs in the world is on. In this head to head, we pit the Core i9 versus the Threadripper to see which is the best when it comes to maximizing multi-core performance on a single chip.
Computing

Apple’s latest feature ensures MacOS apps are safer than ever

MacOS is mythically known for being more immune to viruses than Windows, but that doesn't mean there isn't room to make it safer. Apple is using an app notarization feature to protect users from downloading malicious apps.
Computing

There’s now proof that quantum computing is superior to the classical variety

For the first time in computer science history, researchers have tangibly demonstrated how a quantum computer is better than a classical computer. A quantum computer was able to solve a math problem that a classical PC cannot.
Computing

In 2018, the rivalry between AMD and Intel has become more interesting than ever

When it comes to selecting a CPU for your PC, there's no shortage of chips for you to choose from. With Ryzen, Threadripper, and Core i9 CPUs though, the AMD vs. Intel argument is muddier than ever.
Computing

Will Apple introduce a new MacBook at its Oct. 30 event? Here's everything we know

Whether it's called the MacBook Air or just the MacBook, Apple is highly rumored to introduce a new, affordable laptop in 2018. We discuss reports about upgrading displays, processors, sign-in features, and more.
Computing

Apple CEO demands Bloomberg retract its Chinese surveillance story

Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling on Bloomberg to retract a story alleging that Apple had purchased compromised servers that allowed the Chinese government to spy on Apple. Apple's investigation found no truth to the story.
Product Review

Dell’s G3 Gaming laptop knows what gamers want, and what they can live without

Compromise and budget gaming laptops go hand-in-hand, but with the G3, Dell has figured out how to balance what gamers want with what they can live without.
1 of 2