Apple’s T2 security chip has created a nightmare for Mac refurbishers

A combination of Apple’s new T2 security chip, software security, and diagnostic requirements are making it hard to breathe new life into old MacBook Pros that have been recycled but could be easily repaired and used for years were it not for these locks.

Mac mini now features the Apple T2 Security Chip
Mac mini now features the Apple T2 Security Chip, enabling on-the-fly data encryption, secure boot and up to 30 times faster HEVC video transcoding.

Matthew Gault for Vice’s Motherboard:

“The irony is that I’d like to do the responsible thing and wipe user data from these machines, but Apple won’t let me,” John Bumstead, a MacBook refurbisher and owner of the RDKL INC repair store, said in a tweet with an attached picture of two “bricked” MacBook Pros. “Literally the only option is to destroy these beautiful $3,000 MacBooks and recover the $12/ea they are worth as scrap.”

As Motherboard has reported previously, without official Apple diagnostic software, newer MacBooks cannot be repaired or reset… As we’ve seen with iPhones in the past, users often don’t reset their own devices before they recycle or donate them, so the only thing that can be done with these devices — some of which are less than two years old — is have them shredded for scrap…

Bumstead said that around 20 to 30 percent of the new Macs he sees have this problem.

MacDailyNews Take: One of the main selling points of Apple’s T2 security chip that the devices can’t be reset except by the owner. Security. If Apple puts in a “back door” for refurbishers, there goes your security.

Apple’s T2 chip enables a new level of security by including a secure enclave coprocessor that secures Touch ID data.

These Mac computers have the Apple T2 Security Chip:
• iMac Pro
• Mac Pro introduced in 2019
• Mac mini introduced in 2018
• MacBook Air introduced in 2018 or later
• MacBook Pro introduced in 2018 or later

Before you you sell, give away, or trade in your Mac, please read Apple’s support document: What to do before you sell, give away, or trade in your Mac.


  1. The pairing of hardware to T2 is utterly ridiculous, storage should not be permanently paired to the T2 chip, you should at the very least be able to pair new storage to the chip while resetting the drive encryption in the process.

    Some hardware makes sense to pair to the hardware from a security perspective, but permanently pairing hardware not essential to the security of the device to the T2 chip without any way for the user to re-pair it leads to unnecessary waste.

  2. What’s that quote again than MDN like to toss around?

    “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary [security] deserve neither liberty nor [security].” — Benjamin Franklin

    1. What’s that quote again than MDN like to toss around?

      “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary [security] deserve neither liberty nor [security].” — Benjamin Franklin

      This phrase requires analysis of what is “essential liberty”, as opposed to non-essential liberty.

      Presumably, Benjamin Franklin had in mind a distinction between essential liberty and non-essential liberty – otherwise he would have used the word “liberty” without the qualification of “essential”.

      To say that having a computer that is locked to a chip and not capable refurbishment falls within “essential” liberty merely begs the question. It does not automatically apply to this matter.

  3. I can see both sides of the coin here. As recyclers and refurbishers should be extremely upfront about telling people to log out of find my Mac, Apple might also want to take in MacBooks etc from refurbishers and give them a fair price. I’d be quite sure apple has the ability to either replace T2 chips or reset them.

    1. Why is anybody paying a red cent for a locked computer without the password? If these guys are paying good money for bricks, they shouldn’t expect Apple or the government to bail them out.

      1. Say a refurbisher receives a MacBook that’s locked. If they can’t get the password from the seller, they should on-sell the MacBook to Apple and pay the seller the amount that Apple gives them, less the extra postage.

        I’m very sure Apple would be able to get around T2 chip issues.

  4. Per Apple: Press and hold the Option key while choosing Apple () menu > System Information. In the sidebar, select either Controller or iBridge, depending on the version of macOS in use. If you see “Apple T2 chip” on the right, your Mac has the Apple T2 Security Chip.

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