Working M1 MacBooks from 2020 are being sold as scrap due to Activation Lock

Secondhand MacBooks that retailed for as much as $3,000 just a couple of years ago are being sold as scrap, to be turned into parts, because recyclers have no way to login and factory reset the machines due to Apple’s Activation Lock security.

Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 delivers game-changing performance and the longest battery life ever on a Mac.
Apple’s 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro (2020)

Matthew Gault fro Vice:

The problem is Apple’s T2 security chip. First introduced in 2018, the laptop makes it impossible for anyone who isn’t the original owner to log into the machine. It’s a boon for security and privacy and a plague on the second hard market. “Like it has been for years with recyclers and millions of iPhones and iPads, it’s pretty much game over with MacBooks now—there’s just nothing to do about it if a device is locked,” Bumstead told Motherboard. “Even the jailbreakers/bypassers don’t have a solution, and they probably won’t because Apple proprietary chips are so relatively formidable.” When Apple released its own silicon with the M1, it integrated the features of the T2 into those computers.

“The functionality of T2 is built into Apple silicon, so it’s the same situation. But whereas T2 with activation lock is basically impossible to overcome, bypass developers are finding the m1/m2 chips with activation lock even more difficult,” Bumstead said…

Often the previous owners are corporations or schools who buy and sell the machines in bulk and aren’t interested in helping recyclers or refurbishers unlock them. “Previous owners do not return phone calls, and large corporations that dump 3000 machines assume they have been destroyed, so it is critical we have a solution that does not depend on the previous owner approving,” Bumstead said.

MacDailyNews Note: Before selling, giving away, or trading in your Mac, if you’re using macOS Monterey or later on a Mac with Apple silicon or a Mac with the Apple T2 Security Chip, use “Erase All Content and Settings” to quickly and securely erase all of your settings, data, and apps, while maintaining the operating system currently installed.

More info about what to do before you sell, give away, or trade in your Mac via Apple Support here.

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10 Comments

    1. There’s more to this story but apparently the “activiation lock bad” narrative is the one they are pushing. Private owners aren’t just abandoning their relatively new MacBooks at “recyclers” or service shops. Sounds like school districts or other large organizations are doing this intentionally for some data privacy/liability reasons?

    2. That’s what I thot but then was reminded that one has to be able to log into the computer first in order to be able to set up an admin account. This is an incredibly stupid and unnecessary waste of hardware since there are so many needy young people out and about who could have used those computers. If they’re not too lazy, IT folks in organizations CAN set up secret System Administrator [‘root’] accounts on Apple computers before distributing them to users. These ‘overlord’ root accounts would ensure separate access to clear out the computers once they’re turned in. The computers could then be reused. Because the root account is so powerful, Apple has made it increasingly more difficult to enable it, but since MacOS is a flavor of UNIX, the optional root account is definitely available.

  1. My M1 13-inch MacBook Pro is an Apple certified (“factory”) refurb, with significantly upped specs (1TB/16GB). A great deal from OWC a few months before the M2 version arrived. The convenience of 1TB internal storage is valuable for a laptop, and 16GB memory makes it more future-proof. I’ll be happily using it for many years (I even like the Touch Bar). So it’s a shame if thousands of M1 machines can’t be recycled through reuse. But Apple no doubt prefers to sell more new M2 Macs.

  2. This is so comical to me. For years people said Apple didn’t do enough to deter device theft and now it is to much. I guess people want things more secure but not to secure.

  3. The idea behind Activation Lock is good; the problem is that Apple thinks every new device needs to be logged into iCloud 24/7 with an individual Apple account for each computer owner. On https://al-support.apple.com/#/getsupport they make it damn near impossible to transfer ownership. Apple apparently forgot that employees move, Mac owners die, many computers are shared or owned by a different person/company than the primary user(s), and many computer buyers don’t want iCloud at all. Poor implementation by Apple, and very slow cumbersome process to correct issues when they happen.

  4. Reality is they are stolen and you can’t reuse them so it works
    Any other reason why an owner wants them kept locked is not your problem either so get over your wining why you can’t used something you don’t own!

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