How do I restore my Mac after erasing it?

If you have erased your Mac and want to restore it, there are a few options available depending on your specific situation. Here are some quick answers to common questions about restoring a Mac after erasing it:

How do I reinstall macOS after erasing my hard drive?

The easiest way to restore macOS after erasing your hard drive is to use macOS Recovery. To start up from macOS Recovery, restart your Mac while holding down Command + R. This will launch the macOS utilities window where you can reinstall the version of macOS that came with your Mac, or the closest version still available.

How can I restore from a Time Machine backup?

If you have a Time Machine backup available, you can use it to fully restore your erased Mac. When you boot into macOS Recovery, select “Restore From Time Machine Backup” and point it to your Time Machine drive. This will walk you through restoring your entire Mac system from your backup.

What if I don’t have a Time Machine backup?

If you don’t have a Time Machine or other full system backup available, you will need to reinstall macOS clean via macOS Recovery, and then migrate data and settings over manually. You can migrate documents, music, photos and some settings by connecting an external drive with your user folders on it and copying them over after reinstalling macOS.

How do I restore purchased apps and data after erasing?

For apps purchased through the App Store, you can open the App Store on your restored Mac and go to the Purchases tab to download them again for free. For other apps and data, you’ll need to reinstall and restore from backups. Check with the app developer for restore instructions. iCloud and iTunes can help restore contacts, calendars and other data synced to Apple services.

What if my Mac didn’t come with macOS Recovery?

On older Macs that did not ship with macOS Recovery, you will need bootable macOS installer media to reinstall the OS. You can get the macOS installer from the App Store on another Mac, or contact Apple support to get installer disks for your Mac’s original OS version.

Should I take my Mac to the Apple Store for help?

Taking your erased Mac to the Apple Store is an option if you need assistance restoring it. Make an appointment with the Genius Bar and they can help advise you on your restore options and reinstall macOS. This will likely be faster than a full restore but may have an additional cost.


Restoring a Mac after erasing it completely is a straightforward process as long as you have access to either macOS Recovery or a bootable installer drive. Using Time Machine or a full system backup makes the restore process much simpler and faster. If you don’t have backups, reinstalling macOS and migrating data manually takes more time but can still get your Mac working again.