Apple explains: What to do before selling or giving away your Mac

Apple today posted a support document explaining what to do before you sell or giving away your Mac and how to back up and remove your data from your computer to keep the data safe:

Important: Do not manually delete contacts, calendars, reminders, documents, photo streams, or any other iCloud data while signed in to your iCloud account. Doing so will not only delete that information from your Mac, but will also delete it from the iCloud servers and any other devices you also sync with iCloud. Instead, follow the steps below to remove your iCloud account from your Mac and leave your iCloud data intact on your other devices.

1. Deauthorize your computer from iTunes (if applicable).
2. Back up your data.
3. If enabled, turn off Find My Mac and sign out of iCloud. To turn off the iCloud service on your Mac:
• Choose System Preferences > iCloud.
• Deselect Find My Mac to disconnect your devices from iCloud.
• Click the Sign Out button on the left side.
• The system automatically removes iCloud data from your Mac.
4. Reformat your hard drive with Disk Utility to erase all stored data and then reinstall OS X on your computer.

Optional: If you want to return your Mac to its original “out-of-the-box” state, so the new owner can set up the computer with the Mac OS X Setup Assistant, follow these steps:

1. After you reformat your hard drive and reinstall OS X, the Setup Assistant automatically starts and displays the Welcome screen that prompts you to choose your country or region. Do not continue with the setup of your system.
2. Press Command-Q to shut down your Mac.
Your Mac is now ready for its new owner. When the Mac is turned on for the first time, the Setup Assistant will guide the new owner through the setup process.

More info in the source article here.


  1. Now that I see it all laid out, step by step, I wonder – couldn’t Apple just automate the whole process? Click on “I’m selling this Mac”, then it disconnects your computer from iTunes, iCloud, Find My Mac, runs a final Time Machine backup, then securely erases everything potentially sensitive and reinstalls the OS? Apple automating it would make it easier for everyone, and an regular Joe could do it without worrying so much about messing it up.

    Anyway, it’s nice of Apple to provide this guide.

      1. They’d have to click “I understand this means erasing everything” a couple times, at the beginning and right before the actual erasing, and an extra stern warning if they don’t have a Time Machine backup. Someone will still try to sue but their case would be very unsubstantial. Selling a machine, anyway, also leads to losing all data that wasn’t backed up.

  2. 5. Let the NSA know.

    There must be a web page for that. Oh wait…they’ll just “know” about it already. Never mind. That’s why it’s not in the list.

    1. I am hoping my iMac 2011 model will last for at least 8 years. It will probably be the last desktop model I will own. Printing out the article on the Apple support for the Redding Mac User Group. Everyone should know how to do this.

  3. I don’t really care for it to be “automated”. There’s not even 10 steps in the list above. I’m sure any person can handle those simple steps. Otherwise they shouldn’t be using a computer. I really don’t care to have everything automated for me. As an adult I can take care of myself.

    1. So that includes disabled and elderly does it. In my opinion being able to do certain things doesn’t make you an adult. Relating in a mature manner goes some way towards it. I am really finding it hard not to be immature about your attitude. But that is a normal natural human emotion. I find it hard but I try. It’s really nice when someone makes life easier.

  4. It shows that some apple users are idiots and don’t know how to use their beloved toys. It shows that some apple lovers are blind and swing wildly at their comrades empty sculls. Can you hear the echo?

  5. I’ve just been through this process for a four-hard-drive MacPro 1,1. What they missed out from the article was the secure erase option, ie don’t just reformat the disk, but over-write the data on it with meaningless junk as well. This is time consuming – it’s taken me days to do 7-pass rewrites on four hard-drives – but it is the best and most secure option.

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