Step-by-Step on How to Wipe a Mac/Macbook Pro/Mac Air

by Anna Sherry   Updated on 2021-06-08 / Update for  Mac OS

Have you ever thought about how to wipe a mac to give away? Sometimes you might also want to erase mac before selling or just want to refresh installation of your mac. In this case, how do you wipe a macbook comes to an intractable job. Here are some suggestions available for you.

Step 1: Before You Wonder How to Erase Everything on a Mac, Have a Backup

Usually, before you consider to donate your old mac or resale, there is something you should never forget to do: have a backup, then how to erase and reinstall mac os. There are two ways to back up all data on your mac, which are as bellows:

1.1 Have a Backup with Time Machine.

There is no denying that Apple always affords best experience to users. Time Machine is definitely one of the best built-in applications. Any Apple user can access this to back up important data on mac. It is very simple to use this when you urgently need it.

Step1: Select an External drive such as a USB, Thunderbolt or FireWire drive

Step2: Turn on Apple menu at top left corner >System Preferences >Time Machine

Step3: Choose Backup Disk, select your external drive and click Use Disk

time machine backup


  • Totally free.
  • Run silently in the background.
  • Timely Backup Data.


  • Only support an apple specific HFS+ file system to store backups.
  • Backup doesn’t record differences inside files.

1.2 Sign in iCloud and Store Files on Mac.

Maybe you forget to use iCloud as useful tool to store files. It is really helpful way to backup data across all of your devices. You can add files from Mac Desktop and Documents folder to iCloud Drive.

Step1: Turn to Apple menu > System Preferences, click iCloud.

Step2: Log in with Apple ID

Step3: Select iCloud Drive

Step4: Choose Desktop & Documents Folders

icloud backup


  • Easy to use.
  • Support multiple iOS devices to store files.


  • Limited storage space.
  • Part of documents can be stored.

Step 2: Checklists Before You Wipe a Mac Clean

After your files are backed up, then bear in mind that any services should be disrupted from your system. Sign out of iTunes, iCloud, and iMessage, interrupt connection with Bluetooth and erase touch bar data.

List 1: Cancel iTunes Authorization

Why do you need to deauthorize iTunes? Because 5 Macs at most can be authorized up. And therefore be sure to sign out of iTunes account. How to cancel iTunes authorization, please turn on iTunes, click Account at the top of screen > Deauthorize This Computer. Just two easy steps to securely deauthorize your Mac.

deauthorize itunes

List 2: Sign out of iCloud

Make sure that some data including note, reminders, bookmarks, etc... are invisible to new owner if you want to sell it. You can directly go to menu bar > System Preferences > iCloud and choose Sign Out. After you sign out of iCloud, these private data are safely kept away from others.

icloud sign out

List 3: Sign out of iMessage

Similarly, don’t you wanna block someone to read private messages? On the safe side, open iMessage and click Messages at the top of your screen> Preferences> iMessage account, click sign out. Simple process to get your iMessage account signed out.

sign out imessage

List 4: Disable Pair of Bluetooth Devices (Optional)

In case the Mac and Bluetooth devices have each owners on their own but still keep within Bluetooth range, and you really want to keep these devices, please unpair them.

Choose Apple menu>System Preferences, and click Bluetooth, select the device you want to unpair, then click (x) button, finally a pop-up prompts you to cancel or remove, just choose remove button.

unpair bluetooth device

List 5: Clear Touch Bar Data

Apart from above about how to wipe your mac, all touch bar data on your Mac is also advised to be erased clearly. Take following steps to achieve the last checkup thing:

Step1: Restart your Mac and immediately try Command+R keys combination(when apple logo appears)

Step2: Select Utilities, then choose Terminal from the macOS Utilities window

Step3: Key in command “xartutil--erase-all” and press return.

Step4: You will be asked and type yes to go on.

Step5: Choose Terminal to quit.

erase touch bar

Step 3: How to Delete Everything off Macbook with HDD (Hard Drive Disk)?

You may wonder what is HDD? It shows below as SATA Disk in the Storage system:

sata disk

Now, you need to start from macOS Recovery. Please turn on your mac and immediately try one of following key combinations, the Command (⌘)-R is currently recommended.

1. Command (⌘)-R: The latest macOS will be reinstalled

2. Option-⌘-R: You’re able to upgrade to the latest compatible macOS

3. Shift-Option-⌘-R: Install macOS that comes with Mac or the closest version that is still available

After you enter into recovery mode, please take following steps to move forward:

Step1: Wait until "macOS Utilities" window appears

Step2: Select "Disk Utility"

Step3: Choose your startup disk in the sidebar

Step4: Click Erase button

Step5: Enter a Name for the disk, choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or APF for formatting, and GUID Partition Map for scheme

Step6: Click Security Options (appropriate for HDD) and choose how many times you would like to write over

Step7: Continue to click Erase and exit Disik Utility once completed, then back to main macOS Utilities window

erase mac hdd

So next, what should I do with my mac? If you don’t want to keep it for yourself, you'd better hold down the Command and Q keys, and then Shut Down the Mac. Otherwise, move to another topic with respect to how to wipe mac clean and start over. Here is the way concerning how to erase and reset mac:

Step 1: Back to macOS Utilites window

Step 2: Click Reinstall macOS

Step 3: Maintain adequate power supply if you’re using a MacBook

Step 4: Click Install and complete set up process

reinstall macos

Step 4: How to Completely Wipe a Macbook If Your Mac Comes with SSD (Solid State Disk)?

In comparison with HDD, SSD is kind of hard to be erased to zero by way of standard operation. More, SSD on Mac usually exhibits Solid State SATA Drive plus a Super Drive.

As Apple puts it "With a solid-state drive (SSD), secure erase options are not available in Disk Utility. For more security, consider turning on FileVault encryption when you start using your SSD drive."

You can choose to turn on FileVault, enter your Mac into its Recovery System (restart the Mac while holding down the command and R keys like the HDD mentioned before), and use Disk Utility to erase all data from macbook pro/macbook air after you’ve unlocked it (select the disk > File >Unlock).

Bonus Tips: The Best Mac Data Recovery Software

After you know how to clear mac before selling, you might start to think about what if I lost important data on my Mac? Yes, what should I do to restore data? Tenorshare 4DDiG for Mac Data Recovery can be your good tool to solve this troublesome question. No matter what kind of files, audio, photos, videos, document and etc, almost including over 550 files supported within this software.

Step 1 Select Any Location You Want

Open 4DDiG for Mac Data Recovery after you successfully download. Choose the location you want to scan to fine lost files, documents, videos and other audios.

select location

Note: If your Mac is loaded with macOS High Sierra and later system, you need to disable SIP first to allow access of Mac files.

disable sip

Step 2 Continue to Scan and Preview

The scan result will be shown below and you are able to look through the majority of files from the location you choose from the beginning.


Step 3 Select Files to Recover

Select files and click Recover button. Warm prompt: do not save the recovered files to the partition where you lost them.

save recovered files


Next time you come across how to wipe a macbook to factory settings or how to clear a macbook pro to sell, remember have a backup on your Mac. More importantly, differentiate SSD and HDD, fully take advantage of respective way to solve disk erase problem when you accidentally feel overwhelmed by them. Of course, in the process of erasing all data on your Mac, it is hard to avoid that data may unexpectedly appear in such situation. If you’re unlucky and have to tackle with that, Tenorshare 4DDiG for Mac Data Recovery is just in time for you to recover lost data. With this software, data is perfectly safe on your Mac.