How to Factory Reset a MacBook or Mac M1

Whether you decide to sell your Mac or want to reinstall a new macOS, it’s wise to factory reset the machine first. This not only keeps your data safe but also avoids any logging issues for the new user. Wait no more, here is our detailed guide for how to factory reset a MacBook or Mac M1.

1. Back up your Mac

Erasing a Mac to factory settings removes all the data on that machine. So, you should make a backup first to prevent any data loss here. This can be done very quickly using Apple’s Time Machine software. Here is our Apple’s guide for how to back up your Mac using Time Machine.

2. Log out your Accounts & Unpair Bluetooth Devices

Don’t forget to disconnect your old Mac from any services you are linked to. You’ll want to sign out of apps like iTunes, iCloud, Messages, and Find My. 

After that, you should go to System Preferences > Bluetooth to unpair all of the Bluetooth devices here. This is very important if you give the Mac on to someone in the house.

3. Reset NVRAM

This is the best way to make sure that none of your personal settings remain on the ole Mac. In case you didn’t know, the NVRAM is only a memory that is used to store certain settings. Resetting NVRAM not only clears your user settings but also restores any security features back to default.

Follow these steps to reset the NVRAM on your Mac:

  1. Power off your Mac.
  2. Next, power up your Mac while holding down Option + Command + P + R.
  3. Wait around 20 seconds, then release the keys when your Mac restarts.

4. Restart your Mac in Recovery

Now, you are ready to factory reset your MacBook or M1 Mac. Note that this process on the M1 Mac is different from the older Intel-powered models. So, we’ve prepared guides for both methods below.

Entering Recovery mode on Intel Mac

  1. On your Mac, click the Apple logo at the top left of the screen.
  2. Select Restart.
  3. Now, immediately hold down the Command + R keys until you see an Apple logo or spinning globe.
  4. Wait a bit for the Mac to enter Recovery mode. Also, you might see a message asking to choose a language here.

Entering Recovery mode on M1 Mac

The process is slightly different on the new M1 Macs. So, instead of pressing the Command + R when restarting your Mac, you will need to do the following:

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Now, press and hold the power button to turn it on again. 
  3. This time, you’ll see a text that tells you to keep holding the power button in order to access startup options.
  4. Continue to hold for around 5 seconds more and you should see the Loading Startup Options.
  5. Next, select Options > Continue. This will open up Recovery. 

Note: After this step, the process should be the same whether what model you use.

6. Erase and Reformat your Mac

We’ll run through the methods on macOS Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, and previous versions below. Note that the instructions are a little different depending on the macOS version you are using.

Delete your Mac in Big Sur

  1. In Recovery mode, select Disk Utility from the list.
  2. Click on Macintosh HD (or your hard drive name).
  3. Next, click Erase here.
  4. Choose the Format pop-up menu (APFS should be selected here).
  5. Enter a name, then click Erase.

Delete your Mac in Catalina

Because macOS Catalina has two volumes, so the process is a little different here. Here is how to delete your Mac in macOS Catalina:

  1. Once Recovery starts up, choose Disk Utility.
  2. You should see two disks (Macintosh HD and Macintosh HD) here.
  3. Click on “Macintosh HD”.
  4. Go to the menu and choose Edit > Delete APFS volume. 
  5. A warning message about permanently erasing your data might appear here. Click Delete to continue.
  6. Now, go back to Disk Utility to delete the “Macintosh HD”. You need to erase both in order to reinstall macOS. 
  7. Choose Macintosh HD and click Erase.
  8. Choose the format here. This will normally be APFS.
  9. Click Erase again and enter your Apple ID if required.

Delete your Mac in Mojave or Earlier versions

The process for deleting and reformatting your Mac is slightly less complicated in macOS Mojave or earlier versions as there isn’t the second Data volume here.

  1. Again, select Disk Utility and click Continue.
  2. Click on Macintosh HD.
  3. Then, click the Erase button and choose Erase.
  4. When it’s finished, exit the program by going to the top menu and selecting Disk Utility > Quit Disk Utility.

How to Reinstall macOS

Follow these steps to reinstall a new macOS on MacBook or Mac M1:

  1. Choose Reinstall macOS from Utilities and follow the instructions here.
  2. Pick the macOS version you want to install. Then, your Mac will start to download and install it automatically.
  3. Wait until you see the Welcome screen. Your Mac might restart several times or the screen might be empty during this process.

Note: By default, macOS Recovery installs the latest macOS that was previously installed on your Mac. Follow this guide in order to get other macOS versions.

Let us know if you have any questions about factory reset on MacBook or Mac M1 in the comments!

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