Reset your Mac to factory settings in a few easy steps 2023

8 min read

Find yourself searching how to wipe a Mac clean and restore it to factory settings? You may be interested in selling your computer and needing to delete all the contents of the hard drive. Without erasing the contents of your computer, you could potentially open yourself up to identity theft. Another reason to reset your Mac to factory settings is it may just be getting too slow because of many years of use. You may find that you’ve run out of disk space if your computer speed is lagging. 

This guide will help you restore Mac to factory settings. A factory reset will allow your machine to function as if it were brand new, with a new installation of the Mac operating system. You’ll find the process relevant to any Mac, whether desktop or laptop.

Erase all content and settings on macOS Monterey

If your Mac runs on macOS 12 Monterey, you’re lucky! You can avoid the hustle of manually signing out of all services and erasing your data. Nor should you reinstall your macOS. Instead:

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences
  2. In System Preferences, click on the main menu in the menu bar and choose Erase All Content and Settings
  3. Enter your password and proceed with erasing data
  4. Confirm that you want to erase all media, settings, and files
  5. Sign out of your Apple ID
  6. Click Erase All Content & Settings. 

erase all content Monterey

Note that you should in any case back up your essential data with Get Backup Pro before erasing content and settings. No matter which macOS your Mac runs on, having a copy of important files is a must.

How to factory reset MacBook Pro, Air, and iMac

Have you completed your data backup and signed out of everything? If the answer is yes, you are ready to wipe your Mac and have it ready for a fresh start. The instructions below answer the question of how to reset MacBook Air, Pro, and iMac. 

Note that the instructions below don’t apply to macOS Monterey. If your Mac runs on macOS 12, it’s enough to erase all content and settings to factory reset Mac.

  • Restart your Mac in Recovery Mode

This step is quite simple. However, the instructions differ based on the type of computer. Below we explain how to restart Intel-based and M1 Macs in Recovery.  

Restart Intel Macs into Recovery Mode:

  1. In the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen, choose Restart
  2. As the system is restarting, hold both the Command (⌘) and R keys on the keyboard at the same time until you see the Recovery Mode window
  3. If requested, enter your admin password to confirm the action
  4. You should now see the macOS Utilities window.

Restart M1 Macs into Recovery Mode:

  1. In the Apple menu, choose Shut Down
  2. Press and hold the power button until you see the screen with Options
  3. Click Options > Continue > enter your admin password if requested
  4. You should now see the macOS Utilities window.
  • Erase the hard drive

Here’s what you need to do to erase your hard drive: 

  1. Choose Disk Utility in the Utilities window
  2. Choose your startup disk
  3. At the top of the Disk Utilities window, choose Erase
  4. Choose Journaled version of Mac OS Extended from the menu
  5. Click Erase. 

Once the process has been completed, go to the Disk Utility menu in the top left corner of the screen and click Quit Disk Utility. 

  • Reinstall the operating system

Now that the hard drive has been wiped clean, you can confirm that you want to reinstall a fresh Mac operating system by following the instructions on the screen. 

reinstall macos

This is about how to format Macintosh. The computer will complete a new installation of the operating system with factory settings. 

What to do before you restore Mac to factory settings

To prepare your Mac for a new owner or just to seed it up, follow these steps to restore it to factory settings.

Important: If you run macOS Monterey on a Mac with Apple M1 Chip or a Mac with the Apple T2 Security Chip, jump to the section ‘Erase all content and settings on macOS Monterey’ instead of following the below steps. 

For any other Mac or macOS, use these tips:

  • Log out of your accounts

If you’re looking to pass on your Mac, make sure it isn’t linked to your account.

Some apps with limited licensing such as Apple TV and Music use an authorization system to limit the number of devices connected. You don’t need someone else to use them. Here’s how to deauthorize your account in Apple TV, Music, or Podcasts:  

  1. Open the app 
  2. In the main menu, click Account 
  3. Choose Authorisations > De-authorise This Computer
  4. Type your Apple ID and password > Deauthorise.

deauthorise apple tv

  • Disable iCloud

Make sure any bookmarks, reminders, notes, or other stored cloud data are not visible to new users by signing out of iCloud. Here’s how to do that:

For macOS Catalina or later:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences
  2. Click Apple ID
  3. Then Select Overview in the sidebar and click Sign Out.

For an earlier version of macOS:

  1. Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences
  2. Click iCloud and then click Sign Out.

icloud signout

  • Sign out of iMessage

If your computer has been configured to send and receive iMessage chats, you’ll definitely want to ensure a new owner doesn’t have access to your private messages. Follow the steps below to sign out of iMessage before you complete a factory reset of a Mac:

  1. Open Messages app on your computer
  2. In the menu bar, click Messages
  3. Choose Preferences
  4. Find your iMessage account
  5. Click Sign Out. 

imessage signout

  • Unpair Bluetooth devices 

This is not an obligatory step, but we recommend it in case you sell or give away your Mac but keep Bluetooth devices like keyboard, mouse, AirPods, or trackpad you used to connect to this Mac. This will prevent accidental pairing if the Mac is used within your Bluetooth range. Here’s how to unpair Bluetooth devices: 

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences
  2. Click Bluetooth to open the list of connected devices
  3. Click X to remove the device. 

unpair bluetooth

  • Erase Touch Bar data

Following the same rationale, make sure to perform these steps so your Touch Bar data won’t be passed onto the new Mac owner.

  1. Restart your Mac 
  2. Hold down the Command ⌘ + R keys as the Mac begins to restart
  3. Choose Utilities and Terminal from the macOS Utilities window
  4. Type: xartutil --erase-all and press Return
  5. Type yes and press Return once more
  6. Choose Terminal and click Quit. 
  • Reset NVRAM

Your Mac stores some user settings in NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory). It’s a good idea to reset those before you wipe your Mac clean. Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Shut down your Mac
  2. Turn it back on
  3. Press and hold Command ⌘ + Option + P + R for about 20 seconds (your Mac should restart during this time).  
  • Back up your data

Before you learn how to reset Mac, the most important thing to do is to back up data so you don’t lose access to the contents of your drive. 

You can do that with the help of backup software, such as Get Backup Pro or ChronoSync Express. The major difference between the two is that Get Backup Pro is great when you just want to back up a few files — only the most important ones, and ChronoSync Express can back up folders. Both apps support scheduled backups and have rich customization features. 

Here’s how to do a backup using Get Backup Pro:

  1. Create a new project by clicking the “+” button in the Backups tab
  2. Select a destination for the backup
  3. Click on File+ to add files you want to back up
  4. Hit Run once you’re ready (the icon looks like a play button).

getbackup mac

If you want to backup folders, it’s better to do it with ChronoSync Express

  1. Open the app and choose “Create a new synchronization task” in the right sidebar
  2. Name your backup project
  3. Choose folders that you want to backup in the left pane
  4. Choose a backup destination in the right pane (you can back up to any local or connected volume)
  5. Hit the arrow button to start backing up.   

backup mac

Both apps, Get Backup Pro and ChronoSync Express, are part of Setapp — a platform containing more than 240 apps for Mac and iPhone. You can try every app for free and figure out what works best.

How to factory reset Mac FAQ

If you still have questions about the options to restore Mac to factory settings, here you go. We’ve got solutions for some common issues. 

Can I reset MacBook to factory settings without Apple ID?

You don’t need to have Apple ID to reset a MacBook to factory defaults unless it’s equipped with an Apple Silicon or T2 Security chip. If the T2 or M1-equipped computer turns on Find My app and Activation Lock will be enabled at the same time. You need your Apple account before anyone can turn off Find My, clean or reactivate your Mac. Therefore, if you want to restore your MacBook Pro (either with a T2 or M1) to factory settings, it’s impossible to do that without Apple ID. However, you can retrieve it or request access to it previously signed in this computer from Apple Support. Then wipe the data and settings of the Mac and reinstall macOS.

How to factory reset MacBook M1?

It’s possible to reset MacBook M1 with the Erase Assistant to factory settings, a new feature for 2018 and later Macs. If you own an earlier Mac, you can erase it with Disk Utility in Recovery mode (see details in this article).

How to factory reset MacBook Pro with passcode lock?

To reset your MacBook to default settings, you need to  start up from macOS Recovery.

Mac with an M1 processor: Power on your Mac and hold down the power button until the startup options window appears. Click Continue after selecting the Options gear icon. 

Mac with an Intel processor: After turning on your computer, press and hold Command + R until you see the Apple logo or another graphic.

When you’re asked to choose an admin user and enter the password, click Erase Mac from the Recovery Assistant menu in the menu bar. Click Erase Mac in the Erase Mac window, and then click Erase Mac again to confirm. 

Then press and hold the power button for a few seconds until your Mac turns off. Restart from the macOS Recovery menu and then reinstall macOS

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