How to reset your MacBook or Mac desktop before selling or giving it away

If you're ready to sell, trade, or give away your Mac, or erase it for another reason, there are different steps in this process depending on depending on what Mac you have and what version of macOS you have. Notably, recent releases of macOS include a handy modern erase option like iOS. Read how to reset your MacBook and Mac.

Before you reset your Mac, make sure you have a recent backup.

If you're using macOS Big Sur or earlier, you'll need to sign out of iCloud, iMessage, and FaceTime. It also wouldn't hurt to sign out of any other accounts under System Preferences → Internet Accounts. You can also turn off any Bluetooth devices.

If you're using the latest version of macOS, you won't have to worry about these steps. Let's figure out how to reset your Mac computers in macOS Sonoma, Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur and earlier versions.


  • How to reset your MacBook and Mac computers
    • macOS Ventura and Sonoma: How to reset your Mac
    • macOS Monterey: How to reset your Mac
    • Reset your MacBook and desktop Macs in macOS Big Sur or earlier version

How to reset your MacBook and Mac

macOS Ventura and Sonoma: how to reset your Mac

  1. Open the application System Preferenceson your Mac
  2. Select Generalin the left sidebar.
  3. Now click Move or reset > Erase all content and settings
  4. If required, enter your password, then follow the instructions to reset your Mac

Shortcut:You can also search your Mac for “erase” using Spotlight search (magnifying glass in the upper right corner or cmd + spacebar)

macOS Monterey: how to reset your Mac

macOS Monterey offers a new erase assistant for 2018 and later Macs. If you haven't updated yet, the easiest way is to reset your Mac to factory settings running Monterey.

  1. Create a new backup of your Mac
  2. Open System Preferences
  3. Click System Preferences in the menu bar > Erase all content and settings
  4. Follow the instructions to completely erase your Mac
  5. Similar to iOS, the new erase process in macOS Monterey handles everything to completely erase your Mac. Mac
  6. The current installed version of macOS will remain

Here's what the process looks like:

You can read more about the new Erasing Assistant in macOS Monterey in the document Apple support here.

Note: : If your Apple Silicon MacBook does not start properly, you may need to restore or revive it.

  • How to revive and restore Apple Silicon Macs, what's the difference and when to use them

Reset your MacBook and Mac computers in macOS Big Sur or earlier

  1. Create a new backup of your Mac
  2. Sign out of iCloud ( System Preferences > Apple ID > Overview > Sign Out)
  3. Exit iMessage and FaceTime (in each app's settings)
  4. Reset NVRAM (see below for details). 4-7)
  5. Boot into MacOS Recovery
  6. Empty your startup disk.
  7. Reinstall a new copy of macOS.


Apple's notes in the support document state that resetting NVRAM is important for Intel Macs without the Apple T2 security chip because it erases user settings and restores security settings to default. Here's how to do it:

Turn off your Mac, then turn it on and immediately press and hold these four keys together: Option, Command, P, and R. Release keys after about 20 seconds.

Boot to MacOS Recovery

On Apple Silicon computers Mac

  • Turn off your Mac if it's on
  • Press and hold the power button to turn it on, and keep holding it until you see Startup options.
  • Choose macOS Recovery.
  • Choose Reinstall macOS.
  • Follow the instructions. hints

On Intel Macs

For Macs, Intel Mac OS Recovery will install a different version of macOS depending on the key combination you use to start your Mac (installation discs or macOS downloaded to an external drive is not needed). Hold one of the following key combinations immediately after turning on your Mac and release when you see the globe or Apple logo.

  • ⌘R (R command ) = Reinstall the latest version of macOS installed on your Mac without upgrading to a later version.
  • ⌥⌘R ( Option Command R) = Update macOS to the latest version compatible with your Mac

Apple notes on its support page: “If you're selling or giving away a Mac running OS X El Capitan or earlier, use Option-Command-R to ensure installation fails.” associated with your Apple ID.” This will also install the latest available version of the software.

MacOS Recovery download time will depend on your Internet connection. When the process is complete, you will see the macOS Utilities window.

Clean up your startup drive (hard/solid state drive)

  1. Click on “Disk Utility” in the Utilities window, then click Continue.
  2. Select your startup disk from the Disk Utility sidebar (click the top item, such as an Apple SSD, not the volume). name, Macintosh HD)
  3. Click Erase at the top of the utility window.
  4. Enter the drive name (the new Mac defaults to Macintosh HD), use Mac OS Extended (Journaled) to format and  GUID partition map for the schema or APFS, whichever Disk Utility recommends.
  5. Click Erase (once finished, in the menu bar, click Disk Utility → Quit Disk Utility to return to the macOS Utilities window). )

Complete the reset by reinstalling macOS

  1. Back in the main macOS Utilities window, click  Reinstall macOS
  2. Follow the instructions and select the drive where you want to install macOS (if you have multiple drives)
  3. Connect the power cable if you are using a Mac laptop
  4. Click Install “.
  5. If you have a solid state drive, the installation may take 10-20 minutes; if you have a hard drive, it will likely take longer.
  6. When the installation is complete, you will see a screen greetings with region selection. If you keep your Mac, continue with the installation process. If you're selling or giving your Mac to someone else, use the keyboard shortcut ⌘Q to exit Setup Assistant and turn off your Mac.

Thank you for reading our guide to resetting your MacBook and Mac. desktop computers!

Read more 9to5Mac tutorials:

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  • M3 iMac vs Intel iMac: here are all the updates and a few shortcomings
  • M3 Pro/Max vs M2 Pro /Max: in-depth comparison

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