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Selling or giving away your used Mac is a fairly common thing to do. You get yourself a new one, that lives up to your demands, and hand over the old one to your parents, kids, cousins, or simply put it up for sale. Regardless, before waving your Mac goodbye, you will have to scrape all of your personal data.

How to Clean Out a Mac of All Data

Before clearing out your old computer, make sure you have all of your data backed up and transferred to the new Mac. You can even move your content using Apple’s Migration Assistant directly from your old Mac to the new one, or restore everything from a Time Machine backup.

mac migration assistant

Of course, if you do not need any of your old files, then you can skip this step, however, it’s highly recommended to, at least, keep a backup copy in case you change your mind.

Sign out of iCloud

Begin removing your personal files by signing out of your Apple accounts. To log out of iCloud on Mac, open System Preferences and choose iCloud, hit Sign out.

sign out of icloud

You can also remove the device using web version of iCloud. Log in to your account and choose Settings, click on the device and remove it from the list.

Sign out of iTunes

Next in the line is iTunes. To sign out, open iTunes and select Account in the Menu bar, hit Sign Out. Don’t close iTunes just yet, there is one more step to take. Go to Menu bar>Account again, but this time choose Authorizations, click Deauthorize This Computer.

itunes deauthorize computer

Deauthorizing your Mac is an important step, as authorized devices gain access to your music, books, apps, movies, etc. You are also limited to authorizing up to 5 computers. Therefore, keeping a slot occupied by an extra device you’re not using isn’t usually the best way to go about it.

Sign out of iMessage

Lastly, don’t forget to sign out of your iMessage account. Open the app’s Preferences, choose Accounts. Pick your iMessage account and hit Sign Out button.

As an optional step, if you are giving away your computer to, say, your child or anyone else you share a house with, you can also unpair bluetooth devices to avoid accidental input.

Note: if you are unpairing wireless keyboard or mouse, you will need a wired version of these devices to complete the step.

Go to System Preferences, then click Bluetooth. Select the device from the list and click the X to unpair it.

mac unpair bluetooth device

How Do I Wipe My MacBook Clean? Reinstall macOS

In order to finish the process and fully remove all of your data from Mac you will have to erase its disk and reinstall macOS. Luckily, you don’t need any third-party “wipers” or “cleaners” to clear out the space on your drive, as all of this can be done with a secure method and, of course, for free using Apple’s build in software.

When restarting your Mac, boot in macOS Recovery by holding down the combination of Shift-Option-⌘-R if your Mac currently runs macOS Sierra 10.12.4 or later (Option-⌘-R for earlier versions). Hold the keys until you see an Apple logo or a Spinning Globe, then release. More information on macOS recovery commands can be found here.

Note: you will need to be connected to the internet, as eligibility to install macOS will have to be verified.

Erase Your Disk

You will then see macOS Utilities window, choose Disk Utility and hit Continue. Choose your disk in the sidebar and click Erase.

wipe startup disk mac

Fill in the fields and click Erase again. Return to the macOS Utilities window.

Install macOS Your Mac Came With

From macOS Utilities choose Reinstall macOS to install a new copy of OS version your Mac came with or the closest still available. Click Continue and follow onscreen instructions. Once macOS is installed, your computer will restart into Setup Assistant. You can hit command (⌘)+Q to close the window and shut down your system. This will allow a new owner to complete the setup on their own.

Following these steps will ensure a clean start for a new user regardless of whether it’s your relative, friend or a complete stranger. It will also help make sure your personal data is secured and won’t be retrieved from your old computer.