So, you’ve just bought a new Mac. All you can think about is setting it up to enjoy every moment spent using it. Have you decided what to do with your old Apple computer? If you want to resell, donate or give it away, make sure none of your files get into the wrong hands. Read on to learn what measures to take for the sake of your privacy and security.
Switching to a new Mac is like moving houses: all of your system preferences, settings, and files should relocate to ensure a seamless transition. Obviously, your old MacBook or iMac has accumulated dozens of settings, applications, and files over a few years of work. For this reason, transferring all of your data from the old computer to the new one will eliminate all the unwanted trouble. If you’ve made regular Time Machine backups, most likely user data is securely stored within a single file. Use Migration Assistant to move all your content to a new Mac or restore the information from a Time Machine backup. In the Apple menu, go to System Preferences -> Applications -> Utilities to launch Migration Assistant.
Listed below are just a few hints on the backup options to use:
To protect all sensitive user data, you should de-authorize from iTunes, iCloud, and iMessage in the first place. Apple has a limitation on the number of Mac computers and iOS devices using the same Apple ID account. It is possible to authorize with the same Apple ID on five computers and up to ten iOS devices.
To de-authorize in iTunes, at the top of the iTunes window, select Account -> Authorizations -> Deauthorize This Computer. To check how many devices are authorized under the same Apple ID, go to Account -> View My Account. After that, on the account information page, you’ll see the number of authorized computers under ‘Computer Authorizations.' Click ‘Deauthorize All’ to sign out on all devices.
To sign out of iCloud, go to System Preferences -> click iCloud -> click Sign Out in the bottom-left corner.
In case you’ve chosen to donate or re-sell your Mac, you need to erase all information stored on its HDD or SSD. To prevent your files and folders from being recovered, you need to purge your Mac’s drive clean. If your MacBook comes equipped with an HDD (hard disk drive), use the inbuilt Disk Utility to erase it securely. Go to Applications -> Utilities -> Disk Utility, then click the Erase tab. After that, click Security options to choose the level of security, then click Erase.
If your Mac is equipped with an SSD drive, Disk Utility won’t let you zero it out. However, if you use the FileVault encryption, it is impossible to access your data without knowing the password. You can only erase the free space located on the SSD using the Terminal command:
diskutil secureErase freespace VALUE /Volumes/DRIVE
One of the options to wipe a storage medium on your Mac is using special external application. However, Mac owners should use such third-party software at their discretion since it may pose a potential security threat.
Over time, any Mac accumulates lots of temporary files, system junk, caches, and trash that needs cleaning. In some cases, reinstalling macOS from scratch can be the best way of recycling your old Mac. In case you choose to donate or give the device away, the next owner who gets the computer would like to see it clean and healthy. On the contrary, if you’re thinking of selling your old Mac, reinstalling Mac OS has no sense. The next owner may have his/her preferences as to the OS version, so verify this with the buyer before proceeding.
After you erase Mac’s storage device with Disk Utility, you will be offered the Reinstall OS X option. Follow the onscreen instructions to install the operating system from scratch. Ideally, a fresh macOS copy will be downloaded and installed on a Mac. As soon as the installation is over, you’ll land the Apple ID authorization screen. Stop at this point.
In case your MacBook Pro has a Touch Bar, you need to ensure that sensitive information is purged from the Secure Enclave in the Touch Bar. Reboot your Mac into the macOS Recovery mode pressing down the Command-R key combination. Once the window 'macOS Utilities' pops up, go to Applications -> Utilities -> launch the Terminal app in the Menu bar. Next, enter the following command:
Press Enter (Return), confirm by typing Yes when asked if you're sure -> press Enter (Return) again. After that, quit Terminal.
Are you re-selling, giving away or donating your Mac? Make it as clean as possible to prevent third-party access to sensitive information. To recycle your MacBook Pro/Air or iMac properly, you need to move important user data to a new Mac, de-authorize all devices in iTunes, iCloud, and iMessage, clear up its storage devices and optionally reinstall macOS. Only after all these steps are complete, you can give your old Mac to the next owner.
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Requires MacOS 10.10 (Yosemite) or later