How to Reset a Mac

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Does your MacBook seem a little long in the tooth? Is there an issue you can’t seem to solve no matter how you try? Or do you want to sell your MacBook without a trace of personal data on it? Here's our guide for how to reset a MacBook, or any Mac computer, which can solve any of those issues.

Below, we explain how to completely wipe your MacBook (or iMac) and reset it to a like-new state. The instructions below (with a few minor changes here or there) will work going all the way back to mac OS Before you do this, be sure to back up your data. If you’re selling your MacBook, also make sure to sign out of iMessage, iCloud and any other accounts before you reset.

Here’s how to reset a MacBook (or any Mac computer):

1. Hold down the Command and R keys on the keyboard and turn on the Mac. Let go when the Apple logo pops up.

Hold down the Command and R keys on the keyboard and turn on the Mac

2. Select your language and continue.

Select your language and continue.

3. Choose Disk Utility and click continue.

Choose Disk Utility and click continue.

4. Choose your startup disk (named Macintosh HD by default) from the sidebar and click the Erase button.

Choose your Startup Disk and Click Erase

5. Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the dropdown menu and click Erase. (If you want to encrypt your disc for extra security, choose the “Journaled, Encrypted” option. You’ll be prompted to create a password.)

6. Click Done and exit the window.

Click Done and exit the window.

7. If you haven’t yet, connect to Wi-Fi in the top right-hand corner, just like you usually would on your Mac.

Connect to Wi-Fi in the top right-hand corner

8. From the main menu, choose Reinstall macOS and click continue.

Reinstall macOS and click continue.

9. Press Continue. A pop-up will appear. Choose Continue there, too.

Press Continue. A pop-up will appear. Choose Continue there, too.

10. Read the software license agreement and click Agree.

Read the software license agreement and click Agree.

11. Choose your boot disk and select “Install.”

Choose your boot disk and select “Install.”

12. Wait for the first step of the installation to occur. This is a good time to take a break.

13. The computer will restart and continue installing. Let your break continue. Get a sandwich (optional, but encouraged). The computer will restart.

The computer will restart and continue installing.

Now you know how to reset a MacBook, or any Mac computer!

From here, if you’re looking to sell your computer, you’re all done. If you want to get back to the desktop, follow the prompts as if you were setting up your MacBook for the first time. 

If your old Mac is still acting up and you've decided you want to upgrade, check out our roundup of the best Apple laptops available now. We're also tracking all of the MacBook Pro 2019 rumors, in case you're able to hold out for a new notebook.

Author Bio
Andrew E. Freedman
Andrew E. Freedman,
Andrew joined Laptopmag.com in 2015, reviewing computers and keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter @FreedmanAE.
Andrew E. Freedman, on