How To Factory Reset MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or iMac

How To Factory Reset MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or iMac

If your Mac is not working as it is supposed to — a factory reset seems like a good plan. Besides this, before buying a newer model, trading, selling your MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or iMac, or just going back to Windows — you’d still need to take care of a few things first. And factory reset is one of them.

The process of reinstalling and wiping all the information off your Mac seems like a challenging task. Don’t get intimidated that fast — the process is smooth if you know the steps. 

Did you know...

Don't rush into a factory reset if your Mac is performing badly or you suspect it was infected by a virus. There’s usually an easier solution for you — unclog your Mac and get a smoother performance:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper
  2. Navigate to the Safe Cleanup tool
  3. Hit Start Scan
  4. Click Clean Junk Files once the scan is over
  5. Enjoy a declogged Mac!

You can benefit from a cleanup for free with the MacKeeper trial one-time fix.

mackeeper safe cleanup

These sections will help you reinstall your macOS:

How to Reset Mac to Factory Settings

Note: the following is applicable to both MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.


Plug in your power adapter. Next, follow our guide once your system is copied and you've logged out of your accounts and services


Before you wipe your Mac and erase any hard drive data, the first thing you need to do is start from the Recovery mode.


To go into the Recovery mode:


1. Click on the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen and choose Restart

2. When your Mac shuts off and powers back on, press and hold the Command + R keys until you see the Apple logo. Release the keys. While in Recovery mode, you won’t see your usual login screen. Instead, you’ll see the macOS Utilities window

3. In the macOS Utilities window, choose Disk Utility — click Continue

4. Choose your ‘Macintosh HD’ startup disk (by default) and click Erase

5. For the macOS High Sierra and higher, choose the APFS format. For the older macOS versions, select MacOS Extended (Journaled) format or Journaled, Encrypted as an extra security option with disk encryption. In this case, you'll need to create a password. Select GUID Partition Map

6. Click Erase

7. Wait until the process is finished and click Done

8. When it’s done — go to the Disk Utility menu at the top — quit Disk Utility by clicking the red cross. From the macOS Utilities window choose Reinstall macOS. Consider installing the latest macOS BigSur

9. Press Continue — accept the license agreement — choose a bootable drive for your macOS

10. After the installation process, you have successfully factory reset your Mac

In practice, factory reset doesn’t take that much time. Just follow the hints to set up your Mac from scratch.

Steps to do before Factory Resetting your MacBook

For extra security, back up all your files before restoring your MacBook to factory settings. That way, you'll be able to make sure that none of your personal details are compromised while your Mac is fully prepared for the new owner.

1. Back up your Mac

Copy your system with all its components before wiping a Mac. It is best to use Time Machine, a built-in macOS utility that will do all the heavy lifting for you. Using this service means you won't have to import the files to another physical drive manually. When you're up and running on your new Mac, you can restore everything in a snap.

2. Erase your personal data

If you plan to sell or give away your Mac, you may want to erase all your data so that the new user has no access to it. Here where it's possible to erase your data.

Deauthorize iTunes account

  1. Open the iTunes app
  2. Click Account in the menu bar
  3. Find the Authorizations option in the list and click Deauthorize This Computer
  4. Enter your Apple ID and password to confirm
  5. Click Deauthorise All
deauthorise itunes account big sur

Sign out of iCloud

For macOS Catalina and later

  1. Click the Apple logo and select System Preferences
  2. Click Apple ID
  3. On the sidebar, select Overview and click Sign Out
icloud overview tab big sur

For macOS Mojave and earlier

  1. Click the Apple logo and select System Preferences
  2. Select iCloud and click Sign Out


Sign out of iMessage

  1. Open the Messages app
  2. Click Messages next to the Apple logo and select Preferences
  3. Click iMessage, then Sign Out
sign out of imessage

Unpair your Bluetooth devices


If you are selling your Mac but plan to keep your wireless mouse or keyboard, it’s an excellent idea to unpair them from your old Mac. If you don't unpair the devices and the new owner of your Mac gets in the Bluetooth range of your peripherals, it can inconvenience both of you.


Your keyboard or mouse will try to connect to the old Mac and may get disconnected from yours. This can result in the characters you type appear on the old Mac’s screen, which is not safe.


If you use iMac, Mac Mini, or Mac Pro, you will need to connect a wired keyboard to perform the steps.


Do the following:

  1. Click the Apple logo and select System Preferences
  2. Go to the Bluetooth tab
  3. Hover your mouse over the name of the device to unpair and click the X button next to it
  4. Click Forget Device
remove bluetooth device

3. Reset NVRAM

Resetting NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random Access Memory) will erase specific settings. These include your time zone, sound volume, recent kernel panic information, and configurations of your startup-disk and display. It will also restore security features to default.


To reset NVRAM, do the following:

  1. Click the Apple logo and select Shut down
  2. Hold down the Option + Command (⌘) + P + R keys. Note: you will need to quickly press and hold them together in the next step, so you may want to remember their location
  3. Turn back on your Mac and immediately press and hold Option + Command (⌘) + P + R
  4. Hold the keys for about 20 seconds and then release them

Don’t forget, you can use these instructions if you’re selling your Mac or if you want to erase your startup disk to reinstall macOS. If you plan on keeping your Mac, you might be interested in our guide on how to make a bootable macOS installer before the factory reset process.


Note: You can also watch our YouTube tutorial and let us guide you through resetting your Mac !


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A virus cleanup can be a great alternative to Mac factory reset.

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