How to Wipe a Mac - The Only Guide You'll Ever Need
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “wipe” in the computer world? Most probably, it is associated with fixing some operating system or hard drive issues or both. Often, it implies resetting Mac to factory settings and performing a clean install of a new macOS on your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini or iMac.
Another situation you may face is the need to prepare a device for sale or another type of disposal (e.g., you are generous enough to give it away for free).
Whatever the reason is, it is important to have all the data on the disk erased. Luckily, modern technologies allow completely deleting all private details from your Apple computer. With them, it is quite simple to eliminate everything you used to store on the hard drive for ages.
Another thing that every Mac user must do after wiping it clean is to check whether the newly set up operating system works properly. Most probably, it will be much harder to sell your Apple computer without a fully functioning OS. If the hardware has appropriate specifications, it is better to upgrade your system to the latest version like macOS High Sierra to win some cash.
Now, it is time to learn how to totally wipe your Mac so that you could start from a clean slate or someone else could use it without stumbling upon your personal data and sensitive information here and there.
Before Discovering How to Wipe a Mac Clean, First Do This
In fact, there are three important steps to take before moving to wiping your Apple device or reinstalling OS X:
Why should not you hurry? Even if you’re too impatient to sell your old Mac and buy a brand new computer, do not forget to back up and move the important information elsewhere. You may save it to the external hard drive, flash drive, another Apple device, etc. Anyway, you should check everything to make sure you have stored all that matters. You won’t have access to this information once you wipe your Mac or sell it!
Back up your Mac
You can either perform a backup with the help of Mac's built-in Time Machine utility or using some specialized third-party software. Then, you can save the backup to some cloud storage or copy it (along with all other crucial items) to another storage device.
You may wonder how much disk space you need to start the backup process. If you wish to learn the size of a particular folder/file, click on it and hold Command-I. Choose Apple menu if you want to check the storage information about your computer. Pick About This Mac and then select the Storage tab. On the whole, experts recommend having minimum 50% of the storage capacity of the device.
Download the preferred OS X
Check if there is an internet connection. It would not be fine to get stuck being unable to download another version of Mac operating system. If your Mac is too old, too cold – you should obtain one of the early versions of OS X. In case you have one of the later Macs, download the recently released macOS High Sierra with all its privileges.
Those are two basic stages one should pass before moving to the process of wiping Mac hard drive, described below in details. So, let's uncover how to erase your Mac top to bottom.
Erase Mac Hard Drive: Just 5 More Steps to Get an Empty Disk
By now you should have already finished your backup process (with the help of Time Machine or other utility), cloned the hard drive data to another storage device, and stored crucial information securely in iCould or elsewhere. Let’s see how to erase everything on a Mac step-by-step. Note that wiping Mac hard drive without reformatting and reinstalling the OS is hardly possible, so the instructions include this phase as well.
Warning: It is better to check whether your backup is complete several times than miss a thing!
- Select Apple menu and choose Restart. While the computer is rebooting, hold down the Command + R keys until you see the Utilities window.
- Pick Disk Utility and move to Continue.
- Choose the startup disk on the left. Press Erase.
- Then, you’ll get the Format pop-up menu, where you need to choose a volume format. Usually, it is Mac OS Extended; for the latest macOS High Sierra, it could be APFS. Then, type the name of the volume, and select Erase.
- Check out Security Options to choose how many times the system will over-write the erased data to prevent its recovery (one, three or seven times).
- Once the disk is wiped, quit Disk Utility and return to the utilities window.
- Choose Reinstall macOS, select Continue. After that, simply stick to the detailed onscreen instructions.
Once the setup process is finished, you’ll have a Mac in an out-of-box state. You may leave all the system tune-up procedures to the next owner to allow him/her customize the machine the way he/she wants it.