How to clean or factory restore a Mac

Restoring a Mac to its factory settings will erase your data from your hard drive, as well as your preferences and personalized settings. So why do it? Because this will solve a series of technical problems, and it is something that you must do almost out of obligation if you are going to sell your Mac or give it away. The good news is that it is an easy and safe procedure – if you know how to do it, of course.

Note: Always remember that this process will delete your documents, photos and applications, so you must make the necessary backups before proceeding.

Erase your mac

Step 1 : For MacBook, connect the power adapter so you don’t run out of battery.

Step 2 – Make sure your Mac is connected to the internet, preferably via a wired connection. Erasing your hard drive is easy, but if you do, you need to access your Mac’s factory settings. Apple stores this data remotely on its servers.

Step 3 – Click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner and select Restart… from the dropdown menu.

Step 4 – Once your Mac restarts, press the Cmd and R keys simultaneously. Hold them down until your device displays an Apple logo, spinning globe, or other home screen. This takes you to macOS Recovery .

Step 5 – After a few moments, enter your password. The MacOS Utilities popup will appear on the screen. Select Disk Utility from the list and click Continue .

Step 6 – Your Mac’s startup disk will appear on the left. It is usually called “Macintosh HD” unless you rename it. Another unit also appears with the word “Data” added to the end. For example, if your startup disk is Macintosh HD , you should see a drive labeled Macintosh HD – Data . If you don’t have a data drive, don’t worry, just skip to Step 9 .

Step 7 – Select the data drive, click Edit on the menu bar, and then select Delete APFS Volume from the dropdown menu. Alternatively, with the data drive selected, click the minus (-) button on the Disk Utility toolbar.

Step 8 – In the resulting window, click Delete to confirm. Make sure you don’t click Delete volume group . If you have any other data drives, erase those as well, but leave just the regular Macintosh HD drive.

Step 9 – Select your primary volume. It is usually Macintosh HD. Click Edit  located on the menu bar followed by Delete  in the dropdown menu. Give it a name (or stick with Macintosh HD if you want) and choose a format.

Note: You must choose APFS or macOS Extended (Journaled) for the file format. Disk Utility displays the recommended format by default; keep it unless you have a specific reason to choose another format.

Step 10 – Click Delete . You may see a message for your Apple ID information.

The process of erasing the drive on your Mac might take some time. When you’re done, close Disk Utility to return to the macOS Utilities window.

Reinstall the operating system

Once you’ve erased everything that made your Mac special, cleaning up your system is only half the way to factory reset.

After you’re done with Disk Utility, you should see an option to reinstall your current macOS. Select the reinstall option, confirm that you really want to do it, and continue. You may have to click a few confirmations before the installation is ready to start.

Because Apple stores your Mac’s factory settings on its servers, your computer requires an Internet connection in order to retrieve new settings off the assembly line.

Note: This online download solution only works for the latest versions of macOS. It shouldn’t be a problem with most current Mac computers, as long as they’re running newer operating systems.

However, if you are running Snow Leopard (10.6) or earlier, you cannot reinstall this configuration from the web. Instead, you’ll need the original macOS installation disc that came with your computer.

Also, when you reinstall macOS, a setup wizard asks you basic questions about your region, among others.

If you’re selling or giving away your Mac, leave the setup wizard intact. Instead, hold down the Command and Q keys to shut it down, then click Shut down . This will shut down your Mac and leave the setup wizard ready for the new owner.


If cleaning up your Mac isn’t what you’re after, you can also completely reinstall macOS without erasing any data. It’s the lite version of a full wipe, as you don’t need to remove the drive if you just want a clean install.

This option is useful if you have corrupted data, malware you can’t isolate, or problems caused by a faulty update. However, this process can leave behind information that would be relatively easy to recover, so it’s not a good idea if you’re selling or giving away your Mac.

If this is the method you are looking for, follow the steps below. As always, be sure to back up any data and documents you want to keep.

Step 1 – Shut down your Mac and restart it as you normally would. After turning on your computer, hold down the Command and R keys , then release the keys when you see the Apple logo. This will open the macOS Utilities window in macOS Recovery .

Step 2 – Select Reinstall macOS from the list. Confirm that you want to reinstall the operating system and you will receive the latest version.

Another alternative: Time Machine

If you use Time Machine to store backup copies of your data, you can also use it to restore a particular version to your computer. This is useful if you’d rather restore particular settings and data than try to completely erase everything.

Step 1 – Shut down your Mac and then restart your computer. Right after turning it on, hold down the Command and R keys, and release the keys when you see the Apple logo. This will open the Utilities window .

Step 2 – Instead of going to Reinstall, choose Restore from Time Machine Backup . Note that if you have saved a backup to an external hard drive or server, your Mac must be connected to that device to perform a full restore.

Disable Apple Music, iCloud, and iMessage

If you sell or give away your Mac, be sure to remove permissions from your Mac and any connected devices before restoring it to its original factory settings. This helps prevent anyone from accessing your personal information in the future.

Apple Music

Step 1 – Open Apple Music and click on Account in the menu bar.

Step 2 – In the dropdown menu, hover over Authorizations , then click Deauthorize this computer .

Apple Music will remove that particular device from your list of authorized devices. You will no longer be able to access any of your Apple Music content from this machine, and neither will anyone else.


It’s not enough to just sign out of iCloud; you should also make sure that no local data remains on your computer.

Step 1 – Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner and select System Preferences from the dropdown menu.

Step 2 – Click on the Apple ID icon inside the System Preferences window.

Step 3 – Select the Overview category shown on the left, and then click the Sign Out button .

The macOS system will ask if you want to keep your current iCloud data on the machine. Uncheck the boxes of everything you want to delete.


If you want to keep your messages private, you need to sign out of the iMessage app on Mac. This program syncs messages between your iPhone and Mac, so deauthorizing it is very important. Luckily, it’s easy to do.

Step 1 – With the Messages app open, click on Messages in the menu bar followed by Preferences from the dropdown.

Step 2 – A pop-up window will appear on your screen. Click the iMessage tab and then the Sign Out button .

Remember that backing up your data is always a good idea, especially before a major move like this. Here’s how to back up to an external drive.

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