The MacBook Air: Restore Default

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Are you sure you wiped all your personal data off that Mac before you sell it off? Better double check.

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Tempted by the new MacBook Pro? Or maybe it's just time to say goodbye to the desktop collecting dust in the corner. You might be able to get some money by selling your old Mac. But before you do, you'll need to migrate its data to your new Mac and wipe it clean. 

Even if you are giving your Mac to a friend, recycling it or donating it to an organization, you'll want to erase your personal information and files before parting with it. That's a security measure you don't want to skip. Your Mac's hard drive is bursting with sensitive information that you wouldn't want to be accessible, even if you trust your laptop's next owner. There's always a chance that some malware could snake its way in and uncover your personal details.

Here, I'll show you how to remove all traces of your data and return your old Mac to its default factory settings. This story updates periodically.

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Sign out of your accounts

After migrating your data to your new Mac or making one last backup to preserve your data, it's time to remove all traces of yourself from the machine. First, you'll need to sign out of all of your accounts. Previously, this was done using iTunes, but with iTunes meeting its end last year, you now can use the Music, TV or Books app to sign out. Open up any of those apps and go to

Account > Authorizations > Deauthorize This Computer. You'll need to enter your Apple ID and password and then hit the

Deauthorize button.

Next, you'll need to turn off Find My Mac and sign out of iCloud. Go to


Preferences > Apple ID, click

iCloud in the left panel and then uncheck

Find My Mac. Next, click

Overview from the left panel and then click the

Sign Out button.

Lastly, you'll need to sign out of Messages. Open the Messages app, go to

Messages > Preferences, click the

iMessage tab and then click

Sign Out.

Bluetooth unpairing

If you're handing down your old Mac to your kid or someone else in your house, then it's a good idea to unpair any Bluetooth devices from it so your mouse or keyboard controls your new Mac and doesn't interfere with your old one. Go to


Preferences > Bluetooth, mouse over the device you want to unpair, click the

X button to the right of its name, then click


Factory reset

You need to put your MacBook ($934 at Amazon) into recovery mode in order to erase all of your data and reinstall MacOS. To enter recovery mode, restart your Mac and immediately press and hold

Command-R. You can release the keys when you see the Apple logo.


Next, you'll see the MacOS Utilities window. Choose

Disk Utility, click

Continue and select your startup disk -- unless you renamed it, odds are it's labeled

Macintosh HD or something similar. Next, click the

Erase button at the top of the Disk Utility window and fill out these three fields:

  • Name: Choose a name for the fresh, new volume. Why not go with the tried-and-true

    Macintosh HD?

  • Format: Choose either

    APFS or

    Mac OS Extended (Journaled). The newer APFS is best for solid-state drives, and Mac OS Extended (Journaled) is best for older, mechanical hard drives.

  • Scheme: Choose

    GUID Partition Map.

Next, click

Erase and after Disk Utility does its thing, quit

Disk Utility

You should return to the MacOS Utilities window. (If not, restart your Mac again, holding down Command-R while it reboots.) From the MacOS Utilities window, select

Reinstall MacOS and follow the instructions to install the operating system. After MacOS has been reinstalled, you'll be greeted by the Setup Assistant, which you can quit out of and shut down your Mac. It's now ready for a fresh start with its next owner.

Source :

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