How to Factory Reset a Macbook

How to Factory Reset a Macbook | For macOS 12 and Earlier Models

It’s now easier than ever to reset your Macbook, especially if you’re running on macOS 12 or later. These laptops come with a built-in Erase Assistant tool that will help with clearing and restoring your Mac to its original state.

However, if you’re using an older version of macOS, prior to Monterey or macOS 12 then you would have to factory reset the device with the help of the Disk Utility tool. 

Both methods are quite simple and it wouldn’t take you a lot of time to have them executed. 

So check out all you’d need to know about how to factory reset a Macbook. I’ll even throw in some important pointers so you don’t end up losing any data.

  • Create a Backup of your Data using Time Machine
  • Click the Apple Icon
  • Go to System Preferences
  • Select Erase All Content and Settings

Factory Reset a Macbook: Requirements

macOS 12 and aboveErase all content and settings will appear only if you’re running a T2 security chip or if the Mac runs on an Apple SIlicon chip.

Macbooks without the T2 or Apple Silicon chip – Macbooks that don’t have the T2 security chip or the Silicon chip won’t support macOS 12 and this means that they can only be reset by either reinstalling a copy of macOS using Recovery mode or the disk utility tool. 

Older versions of macOS – If your Mac has the T2 chip or the Silicon chip, but the device is running on an older version of macOS, then you can update the OS to macOS 12 or later and then utilize the Erase all content and settings option that comes built into the OS.

Create a Backup of your Data using Time Machine

The easiest way to create a backup of your Mac is by using Time Machine alongside an external hard disk.

  • Connect your external hard drive to your Macbook.
  • You will receive a pop-up window with an option labeled “Use as Backup Disk
How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • Finally click on Encrypt Backup Disk

Your data will now be copied onto your hard disk in the form of a backup file. You will also be able to view the backup status by clicking on Apple Icon > System Preferences > Time Machine.

Restore your Time Machine Backup

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You will be able to restore either only a few files or all the files onto your Mac. For this, navigate through the following

  • Connect the hard drive with the backup file to your Mac
  • Click on the Time Machine icon and then select Enter Time Machine
  • Tap to enter the Restore Interface
How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • Here you will have all the files that have been backed up. Choose the file you want to restore and then tap on the Restore button to complete the process.
  • To restore an entire Mac, you’d have to make sure that the backup was created on the same model of Mac:
  • As your computer boots up, press and hold Command + R to login to Recovery mode
  • Click on Restore System to restore the entire OS from the backup

How to Factory Reset a MacBook?

Why Would you Factory Reset your Macbook?

There are a number of reasons why it’s important to factory reset a Macbook. Some of the most common reasons are:

  • You want to install a fresh copy of macOS and have all the files, settings and data deleted in one go.
  • You’ve decided to sell or give away your Macbook 
  • The Macbook belongs to your company and you’re returning it
  • You’ve installed and copied hundreds of small files onto your Mac that has caused the drop in performance.

How to Factory Reset a Macbook running macOS 12 or Higher

The erase assistant you get with macOS 12 helps make the whole process easier.

As I explained above, if your Macbook is equipped with the T2 Security chip or the Silicon chip and is running on macOS 12 or above, then you can follow these steps to factory reset the Mac.

How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • To get started, switch on your Mac and click on the Apple icon located on the top left corner of your display.
  • Select System Preferences from the list of options. A pop-up window will appear on your desktop, ignore the window and focus on the men bar at the top of the screen.
How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • Under system Preferences you will find options such as “About System Preferences” and “Erase all content and Settings”. Click on the Erase all Content and Settings option to launch the Erase Assistant.
How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • Once the Erase assistant app opens, you will be presented with an Admin login screen. Enter the correct username and password and then click on Ok.
How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • You will be given a screen that highlights all the settings and data that will be erased if you proceed. Click on Continue to acknowledge the warning.
    • Warning: All data, settings, and apps will be erased. This cannot be undone.
  • Enter your Apple ID and password to sign out of your Apple ID on the Mac. When you hit Ok, you will have a warning screen that asks you to take a backup of your data before you proceed.
  • If you’ve already taken a backup of all you data then you can go ahead and click on Erase All Content and Settings.

How to Factory Reset a Mac Running an Older Version of macOS

If you own a Macbook that runs on macOS prior to 12 and if the device does not come equipped with the T2 or an Apple Silicon chip, then these are the steps to follow.

How to Deauthorize your Macbook

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The first step in this process is to logout of your Apple ID and this is especially important if you’re trading in or giving your Macbook to someone else.

In order to deauthorize your Macbook, you will have to log out of your Apple ID on iTunes, iCloud and iMessage.

  • Signout of iTunes – Apple Icon > Account > Authorizations > Deauthorize this Computer
  • Signout of iCloud – Apple Icon > System Preferences > Apple ID > Overview > Signout
How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • Signout of iMessage – Messages > Preferences > iMessage > Signout
  • Unpair Bluetooth Devices – Apple Icon > System Preferences > Bluetooth > Unpair

Reset the NVRAM on your Macbook

The NVRAM is a section of the Mac’s memory that helps load saved settings on every boot such as time zone, screen resolution, disk selection and even volume levels. 

These settings can slow down a Mac and if you’re exchanging the Mac or handing it over to someone else, it’s a good idea to clear or reset the NVRAM before doing so.

  • Shut down your Macbook and immediately turn it on by pressing and holding down Option + Command + P + R  for 20 seconds
  • Once your Macbook boots up, the NVRAM will be reset and you will have to reconfigure the Mac’s settings.

Factory Reset the old Macbook

In order to factory reset a Macbook that’s running on Catalina or earlier, you’d have to boot the laptop in Recovery Mode if you’re using an Intel based Mac or Disk Utility if you’re using a Mac with the M1 chip.

How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • Intel-based Mac – Restart the Macbook and press and hold Command+R to launch the Recovery Mode.
How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • M1-based Mac – Press and hold the Power button until you get the Startup options window. Click on Options followed by Continue to launch the Disk Utility Tool.
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Once the Mac Utilities window appears on the screen, follow these instructions.

How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • Start by choosing Disk Utility from the list of opinions and then select your preferred Startup Disk.
    • Most times the Startup disk will be labeled Macintosh HD
How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • Proceed to click the Erase button at the top of the Disk Utility window.
  • You will now be presented with two fields, enter what’s asked and proceed to Erase the drive.
    • Name: Enter a new name for the volume
    • Format: Select APFS from the dropdown
How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • Now that this is done, you will be redirected to the macOS Utilities window. Click on Reinstall macOS and then follow the instructions provided.
How to Factory Reset a Macbook
  • Once macOS has been reinstalled, you will be presented with the Setup Assistant.
How to Factory Reset a Macbook

You can either shut down the laptop (if you’re selling or exchanging the laptop) or proceed with the setup process.

How do I hard reset my Macbook Air?

You can reset your Macbook Air by following the same instructions laid out above.

To reset your Mac Air simply perform a hard reset by Erasing your Data on macOS 12 and above or by using the disk utility tool if your Macbook Air is an old model that does not have either a T2 Security chip or a silicon chip.

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