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How to Factory Reset macbook – Full Tutorial

how to factory reset macbook
Written by Hassan Abbas

Mac computers are generally very useful. But most of the time, sometimes things go wrong. Before you spend big on a new Mac, you should first try a factory reset, which cleans your computer and reinstalls a clean version of macOS. In this article, we are going to talk about How to Factory Reset Macbook – Tutorial. Let’s begin!

If you are passing on an old Mac to your family or friends, selling your machine, or simply looking to fix a misbehaving machine, then resetting it to factory settings and cleaning it will permit you to set it up like a new Mac. This means that you can pass it on without worrying that someone could access your data.

Fortunately, it’s easy to erase all the data and content from a Mac before you sell it on, and it’s really important that you do so if you don’t want to leave yourself open to identity theft. Just remember that if someone is going to be using the Mac after you, then erasing personal information alone isn’t enough. You also have to make sure there’s a working version of macOS installed afterward.

Let’s see how to reset your Mac.


  • Make sure that you are connected to the internet so that you can download the latest copy of the Mac operating system able to run on your device.
  • We mostly recommend that you either back up your Mac using Time Machine or clone your internal hard drive to an external drive. This actually enables you to access all your old files, and the drive can be re-cloned to the internal drive if you wish to restore your Mac.
  • You will have to deauthorize your iTunes store account, through the Music app in macOS Catalina or iTunes if you have not yet updated to Catalina.  You should also deauthorize any third-party apps, like Photoshop, that is locked to your Mac.
  • Sign out of and then disable iCloud.
  • Restart your Mac in Recovery Mode. Hold down Command and the R key during restart – or use the alternative key combination as appropriate.
  • Use Disk Utility to remove the hard drive. This is where the method will change depending on whether or not you have updated it to Catalina. In Catalina, you first need to remove the Macintosh HD-Data partition before erasing the Macintosh HD.
  • Then tap on Reinstall macOS or Reinstall macOS and then Continue.

1) Back up your Mac | how to factory reset macbookFD

how to factory reset macbook


The easiest way to create a backup of all your files before erasing a Mac is to copy your system with all its components. It is best to use Time Machine, a built-in macOS utility that will actually do all the heavy lifting for you. Using this service means that you won’t have to manually import the files to another physical drive. When you are up and running on your new Mac, then you can restore everything in a snap.

But, you may not need to have a Time Machine backup if you already sync everything to iCloud. Since macOS Sierra arrived in 2016 it’s now possible to save all your documents and everything on your Desktop through iCloud Drive. So that you can also now access everything on any of your Apple devices. You will have to wait a while for everything re-sync when you switch to a new Mac, but apart from any apps, you have to re-download. And most of your settings you will be able to access everything that you need. Using iCloud Drive this way will mean you have to pay Apple for iCloud storage though.

Moreover, If you don’t want to pay for iCloud storage and you don’t want to use Time Machine then you could make a clone of the entire hard drive using a program. Such as Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper (both are available as free trials as well). Choose your main hard drive in the source, and then your external hard drive in the Destination. Then tap on Clone.


You should now able to boot from the cloned external hard drive. If you want to test this, reset your Mac and then hold down the Option or Alt key when you boot up your Mac. Use the arrow keys on your Mac in order to select the external drive and then tap Enter.

This cloned drive can be re-cloned back to the main drive if you want to restore your Mac. Or it can also be used to access all the original files from your computer after you have cleaned the internal hard drive.

2) Deauthorize your iTunes account | how to factory reset MacBook

You can deauthorize your computer from the iTunes Store. This means that it will no longer link to your iTunes account. (This is important because you can only use more than five Macs to play music and movies that are locked to your iTunes account.)

This method of deauthorizing iTunes varies depending on which version you have got.

macOS Catalina

If you are running macOS Catalina, iTunes no longer exists as a standalone app, so you will rather access the iTunes Store through the new Music app.

Open the Music app, and choose Music > Preferences from the menu bar. Now go to the General tab and then choose the iTunes Store. From here you can also access your account and choose to deauthorize this computer.

iTunes 12

If you are running a Mac that has iTunes 12, then you will need to open iTunes and then tap Account > Authorisations > De-authorise This Computer. Enter your Apple ID and password and then tap De-authorise.

iTunes 11 and earlier

In older versions (below) you will have to click Store > Deauthorise This Computer.

how to factory reset macbook

3) Turn off FileVault | how to factory reset MacBook

FileVault also encrypts the files on your hard drive. It’s not on by default, but if it is being used then it’s advisable to turn it off before going any further (you’ll be erasing the files soon, so security shouldn’t be a concern).

  • In order to turn off FileVault, start by opening System Preferences.
  • Tap on Security & Privacy.
  • Then choose the FileVault tab.
  • Check that it says ‘FileVault is turned off for the disc or not [name of main hard drive]’. If it’s off then you do not need to do anything.
  • If it is turned on then you should click on the padlock icon in the bottom left, enter your user name and password and tap on Unlock.
  • Then click Turn Off FileVault.
  • You will have to enter your user name and password again and you may need to wait while decryption takes place.

4) Disable iCloud | how to factory reset MacBook

  • Open iCloud on a Mac computer through selecting “System Preferences” from the Apple menu. And tapping “iCloud” in the Internet & Wireless section of the System Preferences window.
  • Clear the checkbox beside any enabled iCloud feature in order to disable it. Erasing all the checkboxes disables iCloud without deleting your account. Note that disabling iCloud for Calendars & Reminders will delete all calendar and reminder data from the Mac as well.

  • Tap the “Sign Out” button if you wish to completely disable the iCloud account on your Mac computer.
  • If you want to remove all your personal data, untick the boxes beside iCloud Drive, Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders as well. Then tap Continue. (Or tap ‘Delete From Mac’ on each popup if you are using an earlier version of macOS.)
  • You may also see a warning that iCloud Drive needs to finish updating before continuing with the sign-out.
  • If you’ve got a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air along with Touch ID you will need to confirm that your payment details should be erased from the Mac. Signing out will delete any Apple Pay information.
  • Next, you will need to enter your Apple ID password.

5) Restart in Recovery Mode | how to factory reset MacBook

When you have back up of everything and shut off your iCloud connections, now you are ready to clean the Mac.

  • In order to enter Recovery Mode, click the Apple logo at the top left of the screen and choose Restart.
  • Immediately hold down the Command and R keys unless you see an Apple logo or spinning globe. Such as, Apple recommends that “if you are selling or giving away a Mac that is using OS X El Capitan or earlier, then use Option-Command-R to make sure that the installation is not associated with your Apple ID”.
  • You should expect it to take a while for the Mac to start up in this mode.
  • You may see a screen that will ask you to select a language.
  • The next screen you will see is the Recovery Mode utility window. Since macOS Sierra and later it has looked something like this:

6) Remove your drive and reformat your Mac | how to factory reset MacBook

Now you are ready to remove your drive. This is where things will look a little different if you are using macOS Catalina as compared to how they looked before.

We will run through the method in Catalina first before moving onto Mojave or previous versions of macOS below that.

Delete your Mac in Catalina

When you are reformatting your Mac in Catalina then you first have to delete the Macintosh HD – Data volume before removing Macintosh HD. You have to remove both, you can’t cut corners.

  • Startup your Mac in Recovery through holding down Command + R as the Mac boots up.
  • When Recovery starts up then choose Disk Utility.
  • You should see two disks – Macintosh HD and Macintosh HD as well. This new data drive in Catalina is where your data is stored separately for the macOS installation as well. (It’s also possible that your drive is called something else, such as Home HD).
  • Tap on this Macintosh HD – Data drive to choose it.
  • Then click on the – button or go to the menu and select Edit > Delete APFS volume.
  • You will see a message that warns you that this will permanently erase your data. Tap on Delete. Do not choose Delete Volume Group.
  • Wait for a second the volume is deleted.


  • Now you have to go back to Disk Utility to delete the Macintosh HD. And you will have to reinstall the macOS in order to recreate the Macintosh HD-Data volume. Tap on Macintosh HD to select it.
  • We recommend that you tap Unmount. Initially, when we tried to delete Macintosh HD we saw an error message that said: Erase process has failed because volume Macintosh HD on disk 2s5 couldn’t be unmounted because it is in use through process 793 (kextcache). Unmounting first will fix this problem.
  • Along with Macintosh HD still selected tap on Erase.
  • Enter a name that you want to give the drive when you have reformatted it, like Macintosh HD.
  • Select the format.
  • Tap Erase and then enter your Apple ID if required. Now Wait.
  • Then quit Disk Utility in order to return to the macOS utility screen.

Delete your Mac in Mojave or earlier | how to factory reset MacBook

how to factory reset macbook

The process to delete and reformat your Mac is slightly less complicated in macOS Mojave or earlier as there is not the second Data volume to remove first.

A start-up in Recovery see.

  • Choose Disk Utility from the options, and then tap Continue.
  • Tap on your main hard drive, typically called Macintosh HD, in the sidebar on the left. You are looking for the disk name, not the volume name indented underneath it if that shows.
  • In order to wipe your hard drive, click the Erase button, then click Erase. Note that this permanently erases all data on the hard drive so do not do this unless you’ve cloned the drive or are happy to never access anything on that drive again.
  • When it’s finished, then exit the program by going to the top menu and choosing Disk Utility > Quit Disk Utility.

Reinstall macOS | how to factory reset MacBook

Alternatively, if you are planning to continue to use the Mac and just want to do a clean install then you will want to install a version of macOS.

  • Choose Reinstall macOS from Utilities and follow the instructions that show to reinstall macOS.
  • Your Mac will start to download and install Catalina (or whatever version of macOS your Mac was running
  • After the longest-ever 49 mins or then your Mac will restart. But the wait is not over. It will still take a little time when you start-up and watch the white bar. Ours said 11 minutes remaining around that time, but it took a lot longer than that as well. Just leave your Mac to get on with it and you should ignore any time remaining indicators.
  • Finally, you will then see the Welcome screen. If you are selling or passing on your Mac then you can leave it at this stage because the new user will need to input their details.


Alright, That was all Folks! I hope you guys like this how to factory reset MacBook article and also find it helpful to you. Give us your feedback on it. Also if you guys have further queries related to this article. Then let us know in the comments section below. We will get back to you shortly.

Have a Great Day!

Also See: Tutorial – Wipe Out Cache On iPhone & iPad

About the author

Hassan Abbas

Tech enthusiast with too many items on his wish-list and not nearly enough money! Specializing in all things tech, with a slight Apple bent he has been writing for various blogs for the best part of (too many) years

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