How to Wipe Your MacBook Pro

Erase your MacBook Pro's hard disk with these easy steps

What to Know

  • macOS Monterey and later: Go to System Preferences > select Erase All Content and Settings.
  • macOS Big Sur or earlier: Press and hold Command+R > go to macOS Utilities, select hard disk, and erase.
  • Before wiping the hard disk, create a backup with Apple's Time Machine or a third-party backup app.

This guide explains how to wipe your MacBook Pro's hard disk, erasing all its data. Additional information covers how to first create a backup of your laptop and how to reinstall the operating system after you've cleared everything.

How to Erase Content and Settings in macOS Monterey and Later

If your Mac has macOS Monterey (12.0) or newer, you have an easy way to get it ready to sell or trade-in:

  1. Go to System Preferences.

  2. In the menu bar, click Erase All Content and Settings. This will remove your personal data and any apps you installed without removing macOS.

How to Wipe a MacBook Pro in macOS Big Sur or Earlier

The process of wiping a MacBook Pro running macOS Big Sur or earlier is more complicated than the simple method available in macOS Monterey:

  1. Press and hold Command+R when turning on or restarting the Mac so it begins in Recovery Mode.

  2. Connect your MacBook to the internet. Otherwise, you won't be able to wipe the hard disk.

  3. Go to macOS Utilities screen and select Disk Utility.

  4. Click Continue.

  5. Select your hard disk. Select the disk rather than any volumes nested within the disk.

  6. Click Erase.

  7. Enter a name for the disk, such as Mac HD or whatever else you find appropriate.

  8. If you're using macOS High Sierra or later, go to the Format drop-down menu and choose APFS. If you're using macOS Sierra or earlier, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled).

  9. In the Scheme drop-down menu, choose GUID Partition Map (if shown).

  10. Click Erase to begin the wiping process.

    Erasing hard disk

How to Make a Backup of Your MacBook Pro

If you want to save the files (documents, photos, music) you created while using your MacBook Pro, make a backup of your hard disk before you wipe it.

Here's what you do to create a backup using Time Machine, although there are also third-party backup applications you can use:

  1. Connect the external storage device that will contain the backup.

  2. In the upper-left corner of the MacBook Pro screen, click the Apple icon.

  3. Select System Preferences.

  4. Select Time Machine.

    System Preferences window with Time Machine selected
  5. Click Select Backup Disk.

    Time Machine System Preferences with Select Backup Disk highlighted
  6. Choose your external drive. Click Encrypt backups and then select Use Disk.

    Time Machine System Preferences with Encrypt backups and Use Disk highlighted

If it isn't in the ON position, select ON after clicking Use Disk. When you do, the MacBook Pro begins creating a backup. After your MacBook Pro is wiped to its factory settings, you can use the backup you made by reconnecting the external hard disk to the MacBook and then following the on-screen instructions.

How to Sign Out of Services

If you're selling your MacBook Pro, one other thing you should do before wiping its hard disk is sign out of iTunes, iCloud, and iMessage:

  1. For iCloud, take the following path: In the upper-left corner of the screen. click the Apple icon and select System Preferences > iCloud Sign Out.

  2. For iTunes: Open iTunes > Account Authorizations De-authorize This Computer. Then enter your Apple ID and password and select De-authorize.

  3. For Messages: Press Command + Space Bar, type Messages, and press Enter. At the top of the Mac's screen, select Messages and then select Preferences iMessage > Sign Out.

How to Reinstall macOS

Whether you're selling your MacBook Pro or using it again yourself, reinstall macOS after the disk has been erased:

  1. Plug your MacBook into a power supply.

  2. On the macOS Utilities screen, click Reinstall macOS.

    A screenshot of the macOS utilities app
  3. Click Continue.

  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation.

When the installation is complete, you'll see the setup/Welcome screen. If you're selling the MacBook Pro, press Command+Q, to shut down the Mac on the setup screen, thereby leaving the computer in a factory state, ready for its next owner.

However, if you're holding on to the MacBook Pro, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup process.

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