How to Reset Your MacBook or MacBook Pro

Need to wipe it or get rid of it? Follow these steps

What to Know

  • Use Time Machine to back up your MacBook on an external drive in case you need to restore your information.
  • In Recovery Mode, go to Disk Utility > View > Show All Devices > your drive > Erase > Reinstall macOS.
  • In macOS Monterey and later, go to System Preferences > Erase All Content and Settings.

This article explains how to reset a MacBook. If you've begun to encounter weird glitches and problems with your MacBook or MacBook Pro that no amount of troubleshooting will solve, it may be time for a fresh start.

Back Up Your Data Before You Reset Your MacBook Pro

Even if you never plan to use your data again, make sure to back it up, just in case. The last thing anyone wants is to permanently delete something important. MacBook Pro users should use Time Machine to back up your MacBook in case you need to restore your information.

  1. Open Time Machine from the Applications folder on your Mac or by clicking its icon on the Dock.

    Time Machine for Mac selected in Applications folder
  2. Connect an external hard drive to your computer and select it by clicking Use as Backup Disk.

    Use as Backup Disk selected on a Mac

    While you can use iCloud to back up your data, you cannot back up the OS or your applications to the cloud. Time Machine backs up everything.

  3. Select the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and click Back Up Now in the Time Machine menu.

    Back Up Now selected in the Time Machine menu
  4. Wait for the backup to complete and then disconnect the external drive.

How to Erase Content and Settings in macOS Monterey and Later

Macs running macOS Monterey (12.0) or later can use a relatively quick and easy process to prep their laptop for donation, resell, or trade-in.

In System Preferences, select Erase All Content and Settings to start the procedure. Like the similar command in an iPhone, this option removes all of your information and the apps you've downloaded without deleting macOS itself. Because it's lower impact (but still thorough), it's faster than doing a full wipe of the MacBook, which necessitates reinstalling the operating system afterward.

For earlier versions of macOS, follow the rest of the instructions in this article.

How to Factory Reset MacBook Pro

You should always reset your MacBook Pro to factory settings before selling or disposing of it. Dropping a file into the Trash and emptying it isn't enough, as there are still ways to restore the file later. A factory reset ensures your data is erased from the machine and cannot be recovered.

Now that you have backed up all your information, you can begin the process of resetting the MacBook Pro. Before you reset your computer, make sure you have a solid internet connection so you can download the latest version of macOS after the reset. If possible, connect your computer directly to your router or modem.

  1. Shut down your MacBook.

  2. Restart the laptop in Recovery Mode. There are three ways to do this, and they each require a keyboard combination.

    • The first is to hold down Command+R as the MacBook boots up. This option opens the standard version of Recovery Mode and lets you install the latest version of macOS.
    • The second is to hold down Option+Command+R. This command gives you the option to upgrade to the latest version of macOS that is compatible with your machine.
    • The third way is to hold down Shift+Option+Command+R. This combination installs the version of macOS that came with your computer or the closest version available if that OS can no longer be downloaded.

    Regardless of which method you use, keep the keys held down until the Apple logo appears.

  3. In the window that appears, click Disk Utility.

  4. In the Disk Utility window, click View and then click Show All Devices.

  5. Choose the drive you want to erase. It will likely be titled "Macintosh HD."

  6. Click Erase.

  7. Quit Disk Utility and return to the previous window.

  8. Click Reinstall macOS.

    macOS Recovery Mode window
  9. Follow the steps you see on the screen. Allow sufficient time for the installation to complete.

    This process can take several hours to finish.

  10. When the OS has installed, the Mac restarts. Enter your Apple ID and username when prompted to do so.

  11. If you reset your MacBook Pro to sell it, press Command+Q to shut down the machine.

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