How to Reset a MacBook: A Simple Guide to Start Fresh

Looking to wipe the slate clean on your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro? Whether you’re passing it on or gearing up for a sale, a factory reset is a way to go.

This quick guide will walk you through the essential steps and precautions, making the whole process a breeze. Let’s get straight to the point and rediscover that fresh-out-of-the-box magic for your MacBook.

Automatic vs manual factory reset

When it comes to resetting your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, you’ve got two choices: automatic or manual. Both roads lead to the same destination — your MacBook is as good as new, just like it rolled off the factory floor. The decision between automatic and manual reset depends on your MacBook’s age and the macOS it’s running.

For those with macOS Monterey or a later version, or Macs boasting Apple Silicon or the Apple T2 Security Chip, rejoice! You can breeze through the reset process using the “Erase all content and settings” feature.

However, manual reset is the way to go if your MacBook is running macOS Big Sur or an earlier version. It’s a straightforward process involving entering macOS recovery mode, erasing the disk, and reinstalling the macOS.

If you’re familiar with resetting your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, our guide on factory resetting iOS devices has you covered. And if you’re looking to wipe your iPhone clean, check out our article on efficiently erasing all data from your phone. Let’s break down the details and ensure you’re taking the right path for your MacBook reset journey.

How to automatically factory reset your MacBook

If you’re rocking macOS Monterey or any version that follows, resetting your MacBook Pro or Air to factory settings is a breeze.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for both macOS Ventura and macOS Monterey.

macOS Ventura

  1. Head to the Apple menu and select “System settings.”
  2. In the sidebar, click on “General.”
  3. On the right, choose “Transfer or reset.”
  4. Finally, click “Erase all content and settings.”

macOS Monterey

  1. Navigate to the Apple menu and select “System preferences.”
  2. From the menu, opt for “Erase all content and settings.”

After clicking “Erase all content and settings,” follow these straightforward instructions to complete the factory reset for macOS Ventura and macOS Monterey.

  1. When prompted by the erase assistant, sign in with your Mac login password and click “OK.”
  2. If prompted, back up your Mac using Time Machine and an external storage device.
  3. Click “Continue” to wipe all settings, media, data, and other items.
  4. If asked, enter your Apple ID to sign out and click “Continue.”
  5. Click “Erase all content and settings” to proceed.
  6. Your Mac will restart, displaying a black screen or progress bar. You may need to reconnect Bluetooth accessories like a keyboard or mouse by turning them on.
  7. Your Mac may prompt you to select a Wi-Fi network or attach a network cable. Use the Wi-Fi menu to pick a network.
  8. Your Mac will activate. Click “Restart.”
  9. After the restart, follow the setup assistant instructions to configure your Mac, just like you did the first time you brought it home.

How to factory reset your MacBook manually

If your MacBook Pro/Air is running macOS Big Sur or an earlier version, the factory reset process requires a manual touch. Before diving in, ensure you’ve backed up your data, signed out of accounts, unpaired Bluetooth devices, and if needed, reset the NVRAM.

How to back up your data

Prioritize safeguarding your data by utilizing Apple’s Time Machine backup feature. Here’s how:

  1. Connect an external hard drive (dedicated solely to Time Machine backups).
  2. For macOS Ventura and beyond, go to Apple menu > System settings > General > Time Machine > “+” button > follow onscreen instructions. For earlier versions, go to Apple menu > System preferences > Time machine > Select backup disk > follow onscreen instructions.
  3. Ensure your external hard drive has double the storage capacity of your data volume.
  4. Time Machine will commence periodic backups, but you can also manually back up by choosing “Back up now” from the Time Machine menu in the menu bar.

With your data secure, proceed to the next steps.

Sign out of accounts


  • For macOS Catalina and later, this step is optional.
  • Select iTunes from the menu bar.
  • Go to “Accounts” > “Authorizations” > “Deauthorize this computer.”
  • Enter your Apple ID and password, then click “Deauthorize.”


  • For macOS Ventura or later:
    • Open Apple menu > “System settings.”
    • Click your Apple ID in the sidebar.
    • Scroll down and click “Sign out.”
  • For macOS Monterey, macOS Big Sur, and macOS Catalina:
    • Open Apple menu > “System preferences.”
    • Click your “Overview” in the sidebar.
    • Click “Sign out.”
  • For earlier macOS versions:
    • Open Apple menu > “System preferences.”
    • Click “iCloud.”
    • Click “Sign out.”


  • Open the “Messages” app.
  • In the menu bar, choose “Messages” > “Settings” (or “Preferences”).
  • Click “iMessage.”
  • Click “Sign out.”

With accounts signed out, you’re now ready to proceed with the manual factory reset for your MacBook Pro/Air.

Final thoughts

As you are all geared up to reset your MacBook, here are a few final tips for a hassle-free experience.

Start by making sure your data is securely backed up using Time Machine – a reliable safety measure. Pay close attention to signing out of essential accounts like iTunes, iCloud, and iMessage to prioritize privacy and ensure a smooth setup later.

Don’t forget to reconnect any Bluetooth accessories post-reset, such as keyboards or mice. Follow the onscreen instructions meticulously throughout the reset process and breeze through the setup assistant after the restart to rediscover the optimal functioning of your MacBook.

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