How do I clear my Mac so I can sell it? You just have to reformat your hard drive and reinstall a clean version of the operating system.
It is that time again. Time to decide whether to keep or replace your Mac laptop or desktop computer. If you are reading this article, chances are you've already come to the decision to replace your Mac, and you're thinking about selling your old model.
The first thing you should do before hitting the streets to sell your old Mac is clear it of any and all personal data. You don't want to accidentally sell your computer to a stranger when you are still logged into iCloud.
- Step 1: Back up your Mac
- Step 2: Sign out of everything
- Step 3: Reformat your hard drive
- Reinstall a clean Mac operating system
Step 1: Back up your Mac
If you already have your new Mac on hand, you can transfer all of your data from your old Mac or use an older Time Machine backup. If you don't have your new Mac yet, well ... then you probably shouldn't be selling your old one yet. But, if you really don't think you'll need your old computer before getting your new one, just make sure to back up your data so that nothing happens to it before you get what you need onto your new Mac.
Step 2: Sign out of everything
The software you have on your Mac is licensed to you, which means it doesn't get transferred to the new owner of your computer (except the operating system). In order to avoid complications with the new owner attempting to download and install software that is licensed by you, make sure to sign out of everything your personal information is connected to.
How to sign out of iTunes
- Open iTunes on your Mac.
- Click Account in the Menu bar on the left side of your screen.
Click on Sign Out.
How to sign out of iMessage
- Open Messages on your Mac.
- Click Messages in the Menu bar at the top left corner of your screen.
- Click Preferences from the drop-down menu.
- Select your iMessage account.
Click on Sign Out.
How to sign out of iCloud
- Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your Mac's screen.
- Click System Preferences from the drop-down menu.
Click on iCloud.
- Un-tick the box for Find My Mac.
- Enter your system password when prompted.
- Click on Sign Out.
Click Remove data from this Mac when prompted.
Step 3: Reformat your hard drive
- Turn on or restart your Mac.
- Hold down Command and R at the same time right after you restart your Mac. Keep holding down the keys until you see the Apple logo.
- Select Disk Utility in the Utilities window.
Click on Continue.
- Select your Startup disk (it is probably named "Macintosh HD" or something similar).
Click on Erase from the buttons at the top of the Disk Utility window.
- Select Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the drop-down menu that appears in the popup window.
After the process is complete, select Quit Disk Utility from the Disk Utility drop-down menu in the upper left corner of the screen.
Step 4: Reinstall a clean Mac operating system
After you reformat your hard drive it will be ready for a clean installation of the operating system. You should already be in the Utilities window after erasing your Mac. If not, restart your computer and hold down Command and R at the same time until you see the Apple logo.
Note: Make sure your Mac is connected to the internet in order to verify the software. You'll be asked to do so during the installation process.
- Click on Reinstall OS X or macOS to reinstall the operating system that came with your Mac. The new owner will have to install any new versions.
Hold down Command and Q after the installation is complete.
Your Mac is now clean and ready for a new owner.
Is there anything about resetting your Mac to prepare it for sale that you need help with? Let me know in the comments and I'll get you squared away.
Updated June 2017: Updated to include steps for the latest operating system.