How to reset a Mac: factory reset a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro

MacBook Air
(Image credit: Future)

Knowing how to reset your device can come in handy for a number of reasons. There may come a time you'll want to upgrade to a newer model, gift your current device to someone else, or just start fresh on a machine that's become bogged down with old files and programs.

Whatever the reason, making sure you've backed up and erased any personal data before you give it the ol' mind wipe is key, and we're going to walk you through how to do it! The idea of completely wiping your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro and starting from scratch might seem scary, but it is far less daunting than you might expect.

Steps for how to reset your Mac

  • Go to the 'General' section of your settings
  • Click 'Transfer or Reset'
  • Hit 'Erase all content and settings'
  • Follow the prompts and set your Mac

Tools and requirements

  • A Mac, either a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro or Mac Mini 

Step by step guide

1. Use 'Erase All Content and Settings' feature

(Image: © Future)

Resetting your Mac device is incredibly easy to do, so don't stress if it feels like the process is speeding by!

If you're running on macOS Monterey or later on a Mac you'll be using the Erase All Content and Settings feature which will take you through the process.

The first thing you're going to want to do is to bring up the Apple menu by clicking the small apple in the left-hand corner and choosing the 'System Settings' option. 

Once you've done that, find the 'General' button in the sidebar and scroll down, you should see an option to Transfer or Reset on the right-hand side. Once you've hit that there's going to be a smaller button underneath that'll say 'Erase All Content and Settings'. 

2. Stop audio sharing with AirPods

(Image: © Future)

Once you've brought up the erase assistant, it will ask you to sign in with your credentials, like the password you use to log in, and then click OK. 

You should get a prompt to back up your machine before you reset, from which you can open up Time Machine and back up to an external storage device, or proceed without a new backup.

When you're ready to proceed, hit continue to allow your settings, media and data and the other listed items to be removed for good! You're going to be prompted to sign out of Apple ID, which will be a good idea if you're planning to sell or give away your device.

When you're finally ready to say goodbye to your device hit the final Erase All Content and Settings and prepare for your Mac to restart and the screen to go black. Remember, if you've got Bluetooth accessories they'll need to be reconnected to your device, as well as any previously saved Wi-fi connections.

Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison.

Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place.

Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).