How do I wipe an Apple Macbook?

how do i wipe an apple macbook
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If you’re exchanging, upgrading or getting rid of your Mac; or if you’re simply needing to reset it to factory settings, then we’ve got your back with our MacBook wipe guide.

You can wipe your Apple Macbook computer (otherwise known as a factory reset), through the macOS Utilities menu. Whilst the process to wipe your Mac doesn’t take long, the exact steps may vary depending on the model of Mac that you have.

Take a look below as we share our top tips and instructions on how to give your Mac the ultimate spring clean! Here we’ll cover everything you need to know, from back ups to data admin and will even discuss the different options you have when it comes to erasing data on your MacBook Pro.

When to erase or factory reset your Mac

If you are selling or giving away your Mac to someone else then it is really important that you wipe all your personal data and applications – leaving only the operating system intact. By doing this, you are ensuring that all your private files disappear, preventing them from potentially ending up in the wrong hands!

Another reason that you may need to factory reset your Mac, is if it constantly malfunctions due to a stubborn piece of malware. Whilst this may seem extreme, and we certainly wouldn’t recommend it as you first port of call, starting with a clean system may be your only solution.

What is a factory reset?

A factory reset, is the process in which you wipe your computer’s hard drive and reinstall a clean version of the operating system.

But be aware, once your Mac has been reset, you will no longer be able to recover any deleted data that was left on the drive.

Why it is important to backup your files

We have all experienced that moment when you press down on the delete key only to realise moments later that a vital piece of information was stored within the document! And although some devices will give you a final chance to check your documents before deleting, we strongly advise that you backup your files should the worst case scenario occur.

When you wipe a Mac, all of your current data will be gone and without a serious know how, chances are you aren’t ever getting it back.

If you’re changing Mac you’ll most likely want a full backup to restore on the new device. But even if you only want a few items, pictures or documents, it’s worth making sure that these are safe.

It’s also worth mentioning that when changing or getting rid of an old MacBook, you should take the opportunity to have a good old fashioned clear out. Spare some time to actually look through your documents, pictures and music and have a think about what you really want to keep! Chances are you’ll realise you were going to move a load of data that you no longer have any use for. And remember, out of date data and chunky files can slow down the overall running of your Mac.

The best way to sort through your data before transferring it, is to delete all the rubbish from your current Mac. We would urge you not to worry about creating “Keep folders” or double handling files. Simply sift through each one, and have a good look to find anything you want to erase.

Once this is done, you’re going to want to save all the needed data on your Mac to either an external hard drive or some variation of Cloud storage.

How to create a Time Machine backup

Time Machine is a built-in backup feature of your Mac, which automatically backs up your personal data, including apps, music, photos, emails and documents. This is great if you are needing to wipe the hard drive of your Apple Macbook, as it allows you to recover those files that were erased.

If you are using Apple Time Machine on your Mac or MacBook Pro, then you’ll need to double check it has recently backed up before ejecting the external hard drive and then wiping your Mac.

If you aren’t currently using Time Machine backup on your Mac, all you need is an external hard drive with enough space to hold your data. Plugging the external drive in regularly or keeping it permanently plugged in will ensure that you constantly have new backups of your data as a safeguard against any potential issues.

To set up a Time Machine backup simply follow these steps:

  1. Plug in the external drive
  2. Click the magnifying glass in the top right of your screen
  3. Search ‘Time Machine’ and click the application
  4. Click ‘Select Backup Disk’
  5. Select your external hard drive from the pop up list
  6. Tick the encrypt backup for security
  7. Then click Use Disk.
  8. Your Mac will then automatically start running back ups.

From this app you will be able to check back and see when it has completed its first backup. Once its done that you will be able to remove the external drive and wipe your Mac.

How do I wipe my Mac and reinstall?

Once you’ve backed everything up and had one final check through of your data, it’s time to start the wiping process!

Here is a step by step guide on how to wipe an Apple Macbook:

1) Sign out of iTunes

Go to your iMessages and in the top left corner go to Messages < Preferences < @ Messages in the top bar < sign out. Then head to iTunes and in the top left corner (the 7th selection from the left) is Account < Down to Authorisations < De-authorise this computer. Then Go to the same place again to select sign out.

These will make sure you haven’t got any prying eyes if you’re selling your MacBook and prevents anyone accessing your purchases.

2) Sign out of your iCloud account

Depending on which Mac OS you’re currently working on will make the process of doing this differ slightly.

If you are on the newer Mac OS then you’ll need to hit the Apple icon in the top left < System Preferences < Apple ID < Overview < Sign Out.

If these steps don’t make sense with what you’re looking at, try clicking the Apple icon in the top left < System Preferences < iCloud < Sign Out. This will sign out of iCloud too.

3) Erase your hard drive and reinstall MacOS

Once you’ve got everything you need saved elsewhere, its time to wipe your Mac.

Do this by pressing the Apple menu in the top left to shutdown the MacBook , then press the power button to restart the Mac whilst holding down CMD + R. Release the keys once you see the Apple Logo.

You will then see a menu with a few options, click Disk Utility and hit continue.

From here select Macintosh HD from the side menu and press erase, a box will pop up and the options you want to enter are:

  • Name: Macintosh HD – This is the industry standard name for a Mac hard drive which makes it easy to locate the hard drive when using the Mac.
  • Format: APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) – The format is what MacOS runs on.

Fill in these settings then hit ‘Erase Volume Group’ to start to erase your hard drive. Sometimes this will not show, in which case just click the erase button instead. You may need to enter your Apple ID to do this.

Once the drive is erased, quit disk utility to start the next step.

If for any reason you have trouble seeing Macintosh HD in these menus, it may be that the hard drive has been renamed at some point in its life time. Therefore, take a look on the left hand side for other options that may include your name or a previous owners.

4) Reinstall MacOS

Once you’ve quit disk utility you will return back to the original menu. From here, you’ll want to click Reinstall MacOS and press continue, then follow the steps on the screen in order to set up your device like a new mac and reinstall the operating system.

It is important to note that your Mac may restart more than once during the process. Once finished, you’ll see the “hello” message on your Mac’s screen, indicating that your Mac has been restored to factory settings and Setup Assistant is ready to start anew.

Contact Hero Tech Support for all your Apple Mac needs

At Hero Tech Support, we repair and service all makes and models of Apple, PC and laptop computers in Southampton and across Hampshire.

We specialise in all models of Apple repair no matter how new or old and can collect your device free of charge.

So, if you have a Mac that needs erasing or factory resetting contact us for advice.

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Greg Doulton

Greg Doulton

Greg is an Apple repair specialist and has wealth of knowledge within the industry. Follow the blog for more news and tips.

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