Preparing Your Mac For Resale or Recycling

You can erase your Mac and set it up so it is ready for a new owner by using the recovery partition. This hidden part of your hard drive allows you to boot into a special mode where you can erase all of the contents on your Mac and re-install the system. There are a few things you should do first, such as logging out of iCloud and deauthorizng your account in iTunes. By using a special security feature of Disk Utility on the recovery partition, you can ensure that your data is erased.

Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Preparing Your Mac For Resale or Recycling.

Hi, this is Gary with On today's episode let me show you how to get your Mac ready for resale or recycling.

Before you do anything else you want to make sure you are completely done with the Mac. So you want to make sure all your data is off it. Get your new Mac up and running. Perhaps you've backed things up, archived things. You don't need anything else on the hard drive.

In addition you want to make sure you log out of a lot of different services. You want you make sure you go to iTunes and use the
Deauthorize menu choice there to deauthorize iTunes. You want to make sure you go to iCloud and turn off iCloud including Find My Mac. You want to make sure that is off and any other thing you may think of.

For instance I use Adobe Creative Cloud. I would want to make sure I was fully logged out of that so that I can again reinstall Abode apps on my new Mac.

So I want to wipe this 2006 iMac, 20 inch iMac, and I've already got everything set on this. I've got iCloud disabled, everything like that and I don't have any data I need on here.

I'm going to Restart and when I Restart I'm going to hold down the Command and R keys. That is going to restart it in recovery mode and bring up the recovery partition.

So now in recovery mode with recovery partition I've booted into a completely separate part of the drive. The same as having an optical disk in there that you can boot to except that it is just a separate little part of the hard drive that you've probably haven't even needed up until now.

There are two things that I want to do. The first thing is that I want to run Disk Utility. Disk Utility, which you may recognize because you can bring it up and use it for other things when you are using your Mac normally. Select the drive here and you click Erase. Then you want to erase it. Format Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Give it a name like Macintosh HD, something standard like that.

But you want to select the Security Options here. Then you can select how much erasing you want to do. You want to move it up one notch to this setting that allows you to, it will write zeros over the entire drive. Not only destroy what is on the drive but actually override it completely.

You have higher options here that will take a long time to do and you don't really need those for most Macs. If you work in some sort of sensitive industry then you might want to use those but then if you do you probably have IT people handling this for you. You wouldn't be doing this yourself.

So do the first setting here. You can see it says will zero out data. Then you erase. That will take a little time to zero everything out. Then when it reboots into Recovery Partition you end up back here now with an empty hard drive with only disk recovery partition on it.

You would do reinstall Mac OS X and it is going to hit you, most likely, with that it can't connect to the network. It needs the network to be able to grab Mac OS X. It is not installing it from something it has locally. It is actually pulling it from Apple servers. So you want to go and turn on WiFi and select a network. You are going to have to enter in a password. Once it joins the network it will take just a few seconds, you can see up there that it has joined, you can Try Again. You can see now it is ready to continue.

So you can continue now installing. It is going to install the operating system that came with the Mac, in this case the one up from that since Lion is the first version that it can do an installation from Apple servers. So you may see Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, or Yosemite here and it will install over the network.

Then what you want to do is when you get to the point where it asks you to register, just select a location is the very first thing it does, you want to quit. It gives you the option to quit and shut down the machine. That way whoever you hand it off to will get it like it is a new Mac and they will be asked for that stuff and be able to register it for themselves from that point on.

So if your Mac is so old that it doesn't have the recovery partition in it what you need to do is find the disks that came with your Mac or some upgrade disk, like the Snow Leopard upgrade disks, put that in the drive. Then reboot holding the C key down. This will boot it using that piece of optical media instead of the recovery partition. Then it is pretty much the same thing from there.

If you can't get either one to work, the recovery partition or putting a CD or DVD in there, then you still can do it but you are going to have to build a USB flash drive that will act as something you can boot from. It is a pretty complex procedure. I'm going to include links to a lot of pages at that talks about doing this. So check this post at

Here is Apple’s main page of information about how to wipe your Mac: What to do before selling or giving away your Mac.
Apple has more information about accessing and using the recovery partition at OS X: About OS X Recovery.
If you can’t use the recovery partition or an optical disc to wipe your Mac, you can try building a bootable external drive to use instead. Apple has some information on that at OS X: Installing OS X on an external volume. There is also a special tool from Apple that will help you available at OS X Recovery Disk Assistant v1.0

Comments: 6 Responses to “Preparing Your Mac For Resale or Recycling”

    4 years ago

    I gave my older MacBook Air to my husband by creating his profile as an admin and didn’t wipe out my admin log…can I just wipe out my profile and still keep all his files intact? Thanks…love your tutorials

      4 years ago

      By “profile” do you mean your account? Not sure as you mention a “log” of some kind? As long as you leave one admin account, you can wipe out the others sure. It will delete all of your documents, settings, etc. But it will leave his intact. Or, you could leave it there in case you need to use that MacBook again in some situation.

        4 years ago

        Yes I meant my account…I made his account as admin…if I wipe out mine. I have to re-install Yosemite OS-X and all the other programs?
        Again thank you for teaching us so many things. You are a great instructor.

          4 years ago

          Deleting a single account on a Mac does not delete the operating system or any apps. It will delete apps that were installed in the app folder for that particular account, but people rarely install apps the user’s applications folder. If you check the one for that user account, it is probably empty and all of the apps are in the system Applications folder.

    Mike W
    4 years ago

    Excellent. If my MBP currently has Yosemite, but was purchased with Snow Leopard, is it likely I have the recovery portion? I upgraded to each of the newer systems, now Yosemite each time they came out. Is there a way I can see if I have the recovery portion?

      4 years ago

      Just try it. Try rebooting with Command+R held down. You’ll find out easily enough.

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