How to Reformat Your MacBook Pro

MacBook acting up? Reformat it and get it back on track

If your MacBook Pro is slowing down due to age or too many questionable apps and programs, speed things up by reformating the laptop. This action wipes a MacBook Pro and returns it to factory settings, after which you install a clean copy of macOS over the internet. Reformatting may seem like an extreme measure, but it's easy to do, and it extends the life of a malfunctioning MacBook.

Reformatting is also a good idea if you plan to sell, give away, or trade your MacBook Pro. In those cases, don't copy your data back to the laptop after you reformat it.

Before You Begin

Reformatting a MacBook Pro erases all the information on the device. Back up your MacBook before proceeding with this option.

If your Mac isn't set up to back up with Time Machine, transfer your files to an external hard drive or a flash drive, either of which is a smart investment if you don't have a backup drive.

How to Reformat MacBook Pro

Reformatting a MacBook Pro erases the system and your data, wiping away any issues that affected the device. When it is reformatted, you can install a fresh version of macOS.

Although you can erase a MacBook Pro without an internet connection, you must have an internet connection to install a fresh copy of macOS. Be sure you have an accessible network nearby before you start this process.

  1. Turn on or restart the MacBook Pro using the power button and immediately press and hold Command+R on the keyboard before the Apple logo or another startup screen appears. Release the keys after you see an Apple logo, spinning globe, or another startup screen. This process boots the Mac into macOS Recovery mode.

  2. In the macOS Utilities window, select Disk Utility, then click Continue.

    macOS Utilities window
  3. In the left panel of Disk Utility, choose your startup disk. It is called Macintosh HD by default, but if you renamed your startup disk, select it.

  4. Click Erase at the top of the window. 

  5. Enter a name you want the drive to have after you erase it. Apple recommends using the name Macintosh HD.

  6. Choose a format, either APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

    Disk Utility shows the compatible option by default. 

  7. If the Mac asks for the scheme, choose GUID Partition Map.

  8. Click Erase and wait for the process to complete.

  9. In the Disk Utility menu, select Quit Disk Utility.

How to Install a Fresh macOS Version

With your MacBook Pro reformatted, you should be back at the macOS Utilities window. If not, boot back into macOS Recovery as you did to begin the reformatting process.

You must be connected to the internet to complete the macOS installation. Your MacBook Pro prompts you to connect to Wi-Fi to continue the installation process. 

  1. Restart the MacBook Pro and press Command+R on the keyboard before the Apple logo or another startup screen appears. Release the keys when you see an Apple logo or startup screen. This process boots into macOS Recovery.

  2. Click either Reinstall macOS or Reinstall OS X and then click Continue.

  3. Click your startup disk in the left panel. It is called Macintosh HD by default. If you renamed your startup disk, select it.

  4. Click Install. This process reinstalls the latest macOS version that your computer can run.

  5. When the installation is complete, the MacBook Pro restarts and displays the setup assistant.

  6. Set up your reformatted MacBook Pro to your specifications. Transfer the files saved on your external hard drive or flash drive to the computer.