How to Wipe Your MacBook for Selling or Giving it Away

So, you’re probably thinking about getting a new Mac and considering what to do with your old one. Whether you decide to give the MacBook to someone or simply sell it, we have the best way to wipe your MacBook for selling or giving here.

Step 1: Backup your MacBook

If you already have your new Mac on hand, then it’s time to back up and transfer all of your data. Right now, the best way to back up your MacBook is by using Time Machine, a new built-in feature in macOS. Unlike iCloud, Time Machine will help you back up all of your Mac data after you set it up. And, all you need to make a backup with Time Machine is an external storage device.

Follow these steps to set up Time Machine and back up your Mac with it:

  • Connect the external storage device to the Mac. Check which external devices you can use here. Also, you can connect it directly to your Mac or via a NAS network.
  • Next, open Time Machine. A Pop-up Screen will show up and ask if you want to use the drive to back up with Time Machine. 
  • Select Encrypt Backup Disk.
  • Click Use as Backup Disk.
  • After selecting a backup disk, Time Machine immediately begins making periodic backups. This process will be done automatically.

Note: The first backup might take a while to complete. But, you can still use your Mac during the process. In addition, when your hard drive runs out, Time Machine will automatically delete the oldest backups to make sure your Mac is always backed up. 

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. So, to avoid any complications with that, sign out of everything that is connected to the Mac.

Additionally, before selling your old MacBook, make sure you’ve erased all of your personal data. Doing this not only protects your precious info but also saves a lot of time for the buyer. Follow the below steps to sign out and remove all traces of yourself from the device.

How to Sign out of Music app (macOS Catalina or later) 

  1. Open Music on your Mac.
  2. Click Account in the Menu bar on the left side of your screen.
  3. Then, select Sign Out.

Note: If you are using macOS Mojave or older models, repeat the same steps on your iTunes.

How to Sign out of iMessage

  1. On your Mac, open Messages in the Menu bar.
  2. Click Preferences from the drop-down menu.
  3. Select your iMessage account.
  4. Click on Sign Out.

How to Sign out of iCloud

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of your MacBook’s screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the drop-down menu.
  3. Choose Apple ID. For macOS Mojave and older, click on iCloud.
  4. Next, untick the box for Find My Mac and enter your password.
  5. Click on Overview under your Apple ID and choose Sign Out.
  6. Untick all of the boxes that keep a copy on the Mac.
  7. Click Continue.
  8. Finally, choose Delete from Mac to remove Safari passwords and credit cards from your MacBook.

Step 3: Unpair your Bluetooth Devices (Optional)

If you’re giving your old Mac to your kids or someone else in your family then it’s a good idea to unpair any Bluetooth devices from it. Therefore, your mouse or speaker doesn’t accidentally connect to the old one. However, if you sell your old MacBook, feel free to skip this step.

Here is how to unpair your Bluetooth devices:

  1. Click on the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of your screen.
  2. Choose System Preferences from the drop-down menu.
  3. Next, click on Bluetooth.
  4. Find the devices you want to unpair and click on the (x) button next to them.

Step 4: Erase your Hard Drive and Reinstall macOS

how to wipe your MacBook for selling or giving
How to wipe your MacBook for selling or giving

Once you’ve signed out of everything, you can finally erase your old MacBook now. Whether you choose to erase your hard drive or factory reset, both methods end up the same. Here is how to do it:

How to Erase your Mac

  1. Start by restarting the Mac.
  2. While it is waking up, hold down the Command+R keys simultaneously to go to macOS Recover.
  3. Select Disk Utility.
  4. Click on Continue > View > Show all Devices.
  5. Find your Startup disk (it should be named “Machintosh HD”) in the sidebar.
  6. Select the data disk under the startup disk.
  7. Click Edit in the upper left corner of the menu bar.
  8. Select Delete APFS Volume or click on the Remove button in the disk utility bar.
  9. Click on Erase Volume Group. But, if you don’t see this button, click Erase instead.
  10. Confirm by clicking Delete when prompted.
  11. Click Done to finish.

How to Factory Reset MacBook

Plugin your power adapter and follow these steps to reset your Mac to factory settings:

  1. Restart your MacBook. When it powers back on, press and hold the Command + R keys until you see the Apple logo. 
  2. Release the keys when you are in Recovery mode.
  3. Here, choose Disk Utility and click Continue.
  4. Choose your “Macintosh HD” startup disk (by default). Check this if you don’t see Macintosh HD.
  5. Then, click on Erase. For the macOS High Sierra and higher versions, choose APFS format.
  6. Wait until the process is completed and click Done.
  7. Now, quit the Disk Utility menu. 
  8. From the macOS Utilities window, choose Reinstall macOS. You should consider installing the latest macOS BigSur.
  9. Press Continue and accept the license agreement.
  10. Wait until the installation process is done.

Note: Be patient because the whole process might take some time to complete. After macOS has been reinstalled, you’ll see the Setup Assistant appear. Just quit it and shut down your Mac safely. Now, your old MacBook is ready for a fresh start with its next owner.

Related article: How to Install macOS 11 Big Sur on Unsupported Mac

Following the above steps not only protects your information, but it’s also easier for new owners to set up the device. And, if you have any questions about how to wipe a MacBook before selling, let us know in the comments!

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