How to Factory Reset a MacBook Pro

Is it time to completely wipe your MacBook Pro and return it to its factory settings?

How to Factory Reset a MacBook Pro

Whether you are selling your Macbook Pro online, loaning it out to a friend, or returning it to the store, it’s critically important for you to wipe all your data and settings from it to give it to another user safely.

The future owner of your MacBook Pro may not care about your information, but pirates are everywhere, and you never know what someone might do with your data.

This article shows you how to factory reset your MacBook Pro so that your privacy stays protected.

Why Perform a Factory Reset?

The hard drive on your MacBook Pro contains your images, browsing history, work files, iTunes account, and all sorts of other information. Yet, far too many people don’t wipe their computers before selling them.

A survey by the Blancco Technology Group showed that 78% of hard drives they bought on eBay had personal or company data still accessible on them. Of those drives, 67% had easily accessible data, while the rest required a little work with a data recovery tool to get at the information. Only 10% of the hard drives the company bought had the data securely wiped. The other 90% of sellers were running at least some risk that their data would get stolen.

You may also need or want to do a factory reset if you have been using your MacBook Pro for a long time or have encountered a problem with a software configuration that you can’t clear up any other way. It’s the last resort for resolving issues.

In either case, it’s necessary to know how to perform a factory reset without losing your essential data.

How to Factory Reset a MacBook Pro

Now that you know why it is so essential to factory reset your MacBook Pro (or any computer, for that matter), let’s get to the how. The process is surprisingly simple, and we’ll take it step-by-step.

Step 1: Back Everything Up

Factory resetting means that your data will get wiped from your MacBook. As such, you’ll want to back up everything that you don’t want to lose permanently.

The easiest and most straightforward way to do this is to use Time Machine, the backup application built into macOS. Here’s how to backup your data using Time Machine.

  1. Go to “System Preferences” and then “Time Machine.”
  2. Follow the wizard to format the target drive and copy all selected files back to your MacBook Pro.

Time Machine’s process is that simple; it makes it very easy to create a backup to take with you to your next computer.

Step 2: Sign Out of Everything

It’s not strictly necessary to sign out of your apps, but you may want to do so out of an abundance of caution. This step makes life easier when you start working with a new computer. Signing out also ensures those apps that connect themselves to particular devices can successfully link to your new computer without a fuss.

How to De-Authorize iTunes in macOS MacBook

iTunes authorizes your particular device to stream or play media, so de-authorizing it frees it up for your next computer.

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Click on the “Store” tab.
  3. Select “Deauthorize This Computer.”
  4. Enter your Apple ID and password, then click “Deauthorize All.”

Alternatively, you can go to “Store -> Account -> Authorizations” and choose “Deauthorize This Computer.”

How to Disable iCloud in macOS MacBook

Disabling iCloud is also a good practice as much of your data is stored on iCloud.

  1. Open “System Preferences.”
  2. Click on “iCloud.”
  3. Click “Sign Out.”
  4. Click “Delete from Mac” for all popup windows.

How to Disable FileVault in macOS MacBook

Turning off FileVault is useful as it makes the disk erase process work much faster.

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Click Security & Privacy
  3. Select the FileVault tab
  4. Click on the padlock to unlock settings then enter your password
  5. Click Turn Off FileVault

Disabling FileVault isn’t strictly necessary but in my experience, it does speed up the wiping sequence.

How to De-Authorize Apps in macOS MacBook

Besides de-authorizing iTunes, iCloud, and FileVault, you should also de-authorize apps that link themselves to the hardware. Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, and MacX DVD Ripper Pro are just a few examples. While many programs link to an online account or user group, others connect to a PC specifically.

By removing those authorizations from your MacBook Pro, you make it simpler to re-authorize them on your new MacBook.

Step 3: Erase the Disk

Once you have all your essential data backed up and you have deauthorized apps, it’s time to reboot your Mac and erase the drive entirely.

Make sure that your MacBook Pro is plugged into a wall outlet and has Internet access via Ethernet or Wi-Fi before continuing with the erasure process. If your Macbook uses Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) or older, you need your original installation media.

  1. Restart your MacBook Pro.
  2. During the boot sequence, hold down “Command + R” until you see the Apple logo.
  3. Click “Disk Utility” when the menu appears—options under this menu (mentioned below) may differ slightly depending on macOS version.
  4. Click “Continue” and then “Startup Disk.”
  5. Select “Erase” from the top menu and “Mac OS Extended” from the popup menu that appears.
  6. Click “Erase.”
  7. Quit the “Disk Utility” after the process completes.

Note: Depending on the version of macOS you’re using, the wording of the “Utilities” menu options may differ slightly. Just ensure that you select the option that wipes the disk completely.

Once the erase process completes, you will have an expensive but attractive paperweight, and you’ll have to reload macOS to get everything working again.

Step 4: Reinstall macOS on Your MacBook Pro

Once you select “Quit Disk Utility” in the process mentioned above, you should see a window that mentions reinstallation.

  1. Select “Reinstall macOS” (or the equivalent wording).
  2. Your MacBook Pro will use Ethernet (or Wi-Fi) to download the latest macOS version automatically.
  3. Wait for it to download, and then follow the prompts to complete the installation process.

This process shouldn’t take long, but depending on your Internet speed, it may take a little bit longer than expected.

For Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) or older, you need the original installation media to reload macOS. It’s a bit old school but still works well.

The MacBook Pro is a pretty fast machine. The installation is robust, and it runs quickly. You shouldn’t run into any difficulties once the install begins.

Step 5: Finishing up

Once macOS has finished downloading and installing, it should present you with the setup assistant. What you do from here depends on what you’re intending to do with the machine.

If you are keeping it and starting again, follow the setup assistant through the process to localize your computer. You can then download all your apps and files as you see fit and begin using your computer once more.

If you are selling it or giving it away, hold down “Command + Q” to skip the setup assistant. The new owner will want to set up the MacBook Pro according to their needs, so there’s no reason to run through this setup process.

That’s all it takes to factory reset your MacBook Pro! It’s a simple process and shouldn’t give you any problems. By following the steps outlined above, you can factory reset your MacBook without worrying about losing your data or passing on your personal information to the next owner.

4 thoughts on “How to Factory Reset a MacBook Pro”

Walt Thyng says:
Had some minor problems working through the instructions. I skipped over the stuff I didn’t understand and followed the steps I did. Voila! My Pro is now stupid!
thomas says:
HI i just followed the instructions for a 2009 MacBook pro and realized I don’t have the original media to finnish the reinstall. Could you offer some guidance On How to get the orginal media? Thanks in Advance
December says:
It worked to a T! Thank you!
Charlotte says:
Thank you, v clear instructions!

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