How do I wipe my Mac before giving to someone else?

Selling or giving away your old Mac? Before passing it along to a new owner, it’s important to wipe the Mac and reset it to factory settings. This ensures none of your personal data remains on the device. A proper wipe removes all user accounts, settings, applications, and files from the Mac’s storage drive.

Wiping a Mac before giving it away is essential to protect your privacy and security. It deletes all your saved passwords, browser history, documents, photos, emails, and anything else stored locally on the computer. You don’t want that sensitive information falling into the wrong hands.

So how do you fully erase and reset a Macbook or iMac? The process is straightforward and can be accomplished in just a few steps. Here’s a step-by-step guide to securely wiping your Mac before donation, sale or gifting.

Back Up Your Data First

Before wiping your Mac, be sure to back up any important files you want to keep. This includes documents, photos, music, and other media. You’ll want to transfer these to an external hard drive or cloud storage.

To backup a Mac:

  • Connect an external hard drive with enough storage capacity.
  • Open Finder and select the folders/files you want to backup.
  • Drag and drop the folders/files to the external drive.

If using cloud backup, services like iCloud, Dropbox or Google Drive will continuously sync your files. Log into your account and check that everything is up to date before wiping.

Backing up beforehand ensures you don’t lose precious data and memories when erasing your Mac. Keep the backup safe in case you ever want to access the old files again.

Sign Out of iCloud and Other Accounts

Before resetting the Mac, make sure to sign out of all connected accounts like:

  • iCloud
  • App Store
  • iTunes
  • Email and social media
  • Any other services

This detaches the Mac from your personal accounts and data tied to them. To sign out:

  1. Click the Apple menu icon.
  2. Select System Preferences > iCloud.
  3. Click Sign Out.

Repeat this sign out process for any other connected accounts. Also eject any connected external drives.

How to Wipe a Mac Without Disk Utility

There are a couple ways to wipe a Mac. The most thorough method is to use Disk Utility to completely erase and reformat the hard drive. However, this permanently erases all data and requires reinstalling the Mac operating system.

An alternative is to use the Recovery Mode reset process. This restores the Mac to factory settings but keeps the existing OS intact. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Restart your Mac and immediately hold Command + R keys.
  2. This boots the Mac into Recovery mode. Click Disk Utility > Continue.
  3. Select Reinstall macOS/OS X and click Continue.
  4. Follow the prompts to reinstall the operating system.

Reinstalling the OS erases all user data but keeps apps and settings that came default on the Mac. It’s quicker than fully reformatting with Disk Utility.

Using Disk Utility to Securely Erase a Mac

For the most thorough wipe, using Disk Utility is best. This completely erases and reformats the storage drive. Disk Utility is included free with all Macs.

Here are the steps to erase a Mac with Disk Utility:

  1. Restart your Mac into Recovery Mode by holding Command + R on boot.
  2. Select Disk Utility when prompted.
  3. Choose your Mac’s storage drive in the sidebar.
  4. Click Erase across the top menu.
  5. Choose a format like APFS or Mac OS Extended.
  6. Select Scheme GUID Partition Map.
  7. Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) under Format.
  8. Click Erase to wipe the drive. This may take awhile.

The quick erase option will suffice for most users. However, for ultimate peace of mind, choose a secure erase option like a 7-pass or 35-pass wipe. This overwrites all data multiple times.

Alternative Wipe Tools

Some other disk utility apps can also erase a Mac drive. Examples include:

  • Carbon Copy Cloner
  • SuperDuper
  • Malwarebytes Mac Repair
  • Onyx
  • CleanMyMac
  • iMyMac PowerMyMac

These may offer different levels of secure erase functionality. But Disk Utility is freely included with the OS.

Reset Mac to Factory Settings

Once finished with the wipe, you’ll want to reinstall macOS to restore the Mac to factory fresh state. Here’s how:

  1. Boot into Recovery Mode again by holding Command + R.
  2. When the macOS Utilities window appears, choose Reinstall macOS/OS X.
  3. Follow the onscreen prompts to install the Mac operating system.

The Mac will be restored to original settings, as if new out of the box. You can then proceed to sell, gift or donate the computer.

Check Find My Mac Activation

One last thing – check if Find My Mac is enabled on the device. This security feature lets you remotely lock or wipe your Mac if lost or stolen.

You’ll want to make sure Find My Mac is turned off before giving away. Otherwise, the new owner may not be able to activate or use the Mac.

To check Find My Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu and choose System Preferences.
  2. Select Apple ID.
  3. Click iCloud.
  4. Check if Find My Mac is on. Turn off if enabled.

With Find My Mac disabled, the next owner will be able to fully use and register the Mac freely.


Securely erasing your Mac is crucial before giving away or selling the device. Following this guide protects your personal data and lets the new owner start fresh. Be sure to fully back up your files, sign out of connected accounts, then wipe and reinstall the OS. With Disk Utility and Recovery Mode, resetting a Mac is straightforward. Just be sure Find My Mac is disabled, and your Mac will be ready for its next home.

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