How to Reformat Your MacBook Pro

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

MacBook Pro with touchID

Getty Images/Chesnot

If your MacBook Pro is starting to slow down due to age or too many questionable apps and programs, one of the easiest things to do is to reformat the MacBook. This will wipe your MacBook Pro and return it to factory settings. This may seem like an extreme measure, but it's quite easy and a common method of preserving a MacBook for a very long time.

Reformatting a MacBook Pro will erase all of the information on the device. Be prepared to back up your MacBook before proceeding with this option.

Preparing to Reformat Your MacBook Pro

Before you actually perform the reformat, the most important thing to do is to back up your MacBook Pro. One of the easiest ways to do this is to transfer all of your files to an external hard drive or a flash drive. If you don't have an external back up for your MacBook Pro, either option is a great investment.

How to Reformat MacBook Pro

This will erase your old system and data, wiping away any issues that were affecting the device. Once reformatted, you'll be able to install a fresh version of macOS.

  1. Turn on or restart your MacBook Pro.

  2. Once you hear the startup sound, long press Command+R on the keyboard. This will boot you into macOS Recovery.

  3. You will see a window called macOS Utilities. Click Disk Utility > Continue.

    macOS Utilities window
  4. Choose your Startup disk, typically called "Macintosh HD" by default.

  5. Click Erase

  6. Enter a name for the file that will be erased. Apple recommends using the name "Macintosh HD."

  7. Choose a Format, either APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

    Disk Utility will show the compatible option by default. 

  8. If Scheme is shown, click Choose GUID Partition Map.

  9. Click Erase and allow the process to complete.

  10. Quit Disk Utility from the Disk Utility menu at the top right corner of the screen. 

How to Do a Fresh Install of macOS

With your MacBook Pro reformatted, you should be back at the macOS Utilities window. If not, you'll have to 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 should prompt you to connect to Wi-Fi to continue the installation process. 

  1. Restart your MacBook Pro.

  2. Once you hear the startup sound, long press Command+R on the keyboard. This will boot you back into macOS Recovery.

  3. Click either Reinstall macOS or Reinstall OS X, then click Continue

  4. Click your hard drive, typically called "Macintosh HD" by default.

  5. Click Install. This will reinstall the latest macOS version your computer ran.

  6. Once the installation is complete, your MacBook Pro should restart on its own and take you to the setup assistant.

  7. Set up your reformatted MacBook Pro to your specifications. You may transfer the files saved on your external hard drive or flash drive back to your computer at this point.