Wiping Mac clean to sell it

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team
macOS & Mac Apps

Hi all.
I recently got a new MacBook and so am selling the old one. Can anyone tell me how I should go about wiping the old one clean before I sell it?



Submitted by Fenrir on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

first, you Need to deactivate iCloud and iMessage on the old Computer, then you'd Need to Format the hard drive using the recovery Partition or an external USB stick with OSX in it.

Submitted by Chris on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

If you want to wipe the machine clean, do the following.

First, make sure all your important data is backed up. I'm talking about individual files like documents, dmg files for apps, license keys, etc. You could also use Time Machine, but that copies all your system files which you may or may not need. You can also make a bootable backup of your system with CCC or SuperDuper. Once that is done, sign out of all your accounts. You might want to deauthorize some programs like iTunes. once all this is done, shut the computer down. If this is a 2010 or later Mac, turn the machine on and press Command Option r to enter internet recovery. This will take a few minutes to boot. Give it about 5 or 10 minutes and press Command f5. When VoiceOver starts, go into disk utility and choose your drive name in the list of disks. Choose erase and make sure it's set to GUID partition table and Mac OS extended journaled. Next, close disk utility and begin installing the operating system. Note that this will install the original operating system that came with your computer. This is probably better in the long run since the new user can simply upgrade from the App Store. I think any OS you purchase and clean install is tied to your Apple ID. It's probably best not to do that. If your machine came with disks, repeat the same steps but boot from the DVD by pressing and holding the c key on startup.

Once the operating system is installed, make sure it works properly by turning VO on. You should end up in the setup wizard thing that comes up when you get a new machine. Press Command Q and shut the computer down.

When the new owner gets the machine, they will be presented with a nice clean install of Mac OS X. I hope this helps.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hello. Boot in to the recovery console then after launching voiceover, choose disk utility. Find the second name of your mac's had, go to the race button in the tool bar and make sure you are erasing the second partition. If not, you will hose your mac unless you created a bootable thumb drive first.

Submitted by Dave Nason on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Great stuff, thanks for the help.

Submitted by KE7ZUM on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Any time. If you need to create a bootable drive, feel free to check out my book on el capitan. I made the intro, and first chapter and last chapter free, it's in there. Http://tffppodcast.com/books for more info.

Good luck in getting your mac set up for what ever you needed to wipe the drive for.

Submitted by Dave Nason on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Ok I need more help! I've run into a problem and hope you can help again!

First I went to disc utility by booting up while pressing the Command+R keys and erased the Macintosh SSD disc (it's an SSD because I replaced the HD a couple of years ago).
I then selected Reinstall Mac OSX, but it seemed to be trying to download 10.11 El Capitan, rather than the original OS. This failed as it just got stuck on a screen saying "Signing in to App Store", but never moved on.

I then fished out the old OSX install DVD that came with the Mac, it was Snow Leopard at the time.I booted this up by pressing the C key on start up. Initially this seemed to be going ok, but then it asked me to select a target disc. Both my Boot Camp (which ideally I'd rather get rid of actually), and the Macintosh SSD are listed here, but it won't install, with a message saying "Mac OSX cannot start up on this disc".

I'm panicking a bit now! Can I get out of this mess???

Any help appreciated!


Submitted by Chris on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Wow, that doesn't sound good. I thought Snow Leopard had support for SSD drives? When you boot into recovery, try checking the window chooser for any password dialogues. I'm thinking it's prompting for your password but isn't settingfocus to the password window. If that doesn't work, press command option r when booting. This is internet recovery which should work on 2010 and newer macs. I don't know this for certain though. However, I read an Apple post that said you can update the EFI firmware on 2010 macs to support internet recovery. This should download Lion or Snow Leopard directly from Apple.

Submitted by david s on Tuesday, February 2, 2016


It sounds like your SSD still has the original partition. Start the mac then bring up disk utilities. From the select a disk column, select your SSD, slect the partition drive and select 1 partition and erase. Once done, reboot the Mac using the Snow Leopard disc and install as usual. You should be able to install Snow Leopard on an SSD.

Alternatively, if you would rather install El Capitan on your old Mac, here is how you can do so. Go to your new Mac and download El Capitan from the app store. Then create a bootable USB flash drive and use that to boot your old Mac. For instructions on how to create a bootable USB drive, see Sarah’s info above or google creating el capitan bootable usb drive.

HTH and good luck.

Submitted by Dave Nason on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Thanks for all the help, I have got it sorted. I was able to download and reinstall after all. It turns out, as suggested above, there was a VoiceOver window focus issue. Once I overcame that and was able to fill in my Apple ID details the rest ran smoothly.
I had forgotten that I would need to press the FN key, and not just Command+OPtioN+F2. Such a little detail caused so much trouble!
Still not sure why the Snow Leopard disc didn't work but no matter now.
Thanks again.