Mac Software

How do I reset my Apple Mac before I donate it?

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It’s essential to fully reset your Apple Mac before donating it to a new owner. Although you may know your Mac’s new user, in time it may make its way to someone else. Keeping that in mind, it’s better to scrub the drive clean of your precious data and paid-for apps, leaving a fresh install of OS X for the new user to set up just how they like it.

If you’re planning to donate your unused Mac, then follow our simple guide to clean the machine and make it far more difficult for anyone to recover your data. If you’re resetting for yourself, keep reading until the end where we’ll take you through the extremely simple process of reinstalling OS X.

Mac makes it easy.

Mercifully, the process is much easier on a Mac than it is on a Windows machine. If you need to reset a PC too, check out our guide “How should I reset Windows 10 before I donate my machine?“. Now, onto the Mac reset!

Power up the machine and press Command & R to launch the Utilities menu.

Select Disk Utility. On the left, select the Mac’s drive and from the menu opposite, hit the second option Erase.

Click Security Options. This will pop open a window where you can select how many passes you’d like the drive wipe process to perform – we’d suggest at least 3.

When you’ve chosen, click OK.

Back on the main screen, click Erase and the process will begin.

Depending on your selection, the process could take some time. You may even wish to run this overnight if using the multi-pass methods.

Reinstalling OS X

After the process has completed, select Reinstall OS X from the menu to begin re-loading the software back onto the machine.


In our example, the reset Apple Mac regressed all the way back to OS X Mavericks, but it won’t take long before the updates kick in and bring the machine up to more modern versions of the software.

Thanks to a little thought from Apple, the built-in Disk Utility makes data scrubbing extremely simple, and offers several levels of cleansing.

You may now pass your Apple Mac to a new owner and be satisfied that you’ve drastically reduced the chances of any data retrieval.

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About the author

Lee Grant

I can normally be found attacking things with screwdrivers in my small computer repair business or writing a column for PC Pro magazine.

I am also trying to solve a mystery involving David Bowie.

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