How to Factory Reset MacBook Air/Pro Without Password

Cassie Xie
Last updated: Jul 4, 2024

How do I reset my Mac laptop to factory settings without password? In this article, we will walk you through how to factory reset MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and other Mac models if don't know the correct admin password.

You should not take ownership of any used Mac computer, whether purchased from a reseller or inherited from a family member unless it has been erased and a clean version of the OS installed. If the Mac has not been reset, you need to do it to ensure you have a clean and issue-free computer.

However, you will need the admin password for this process. If you can't contact the previous owner for the password, we will show you how to factory reset MacBook Pro without password. The workarounds mentioned in this article apply to all Mac models.

4 Ways to Factory Reset MacBook Air/Pro Without Password

How to Reset Login Password and Factory Reset MacBook

If you forgot or don't have the password to log into the Mac admin user account, Apple allows you to reset it using your Apple ID or FileVault Recovery Key. This method also works for factory resetting a Mac without logging in.

To reset the password with your Apple ID, you will need the Apple ID email address and password associated with this Mac. Follow these steps:

Step 1. Restart your Mac to the login screen and enter a random password three times.

Step 2. Click "Reset it using your Apple ID".

Reset Mac password using Apple ID

Step 3. Enter the Apple ID credentials and click Reset Password.

Step 4. Follow the onscreen instructions to create a new password.

Step 5. When the password reset is completed, click Restart.

If FileVault disk encryption is enabled on your Mac, you can reset the login password using the FileVault Recovery Key. Here's how:

Step 1. Restart Mac and attempts three random password inputs.

Step 2. Click on "Reset it using your recovery key".

Reset Mac password using recovery key

Step 3. Enter your 48-digit FileVault recovery key.

Step 4. Enter your new password information, then click Reset Password.

Once the login password has been reset, you can use the new password to factory reset your Mac laptop. Follow this process:

Step 1. Choose Apple Menu > System Settings > General.

Step 2. Click Transfer or Reset on the right, then click Erase All Contents and Settings.

How to factory reset Mac

Step 3. In Erase Assistant, enter your administrator name and new password, and click Unlock.

Step 4. Review items that will be removed and click Continue.

Step 5. Follow the onscreen instructions to erase your Mac.

Notes
  1. Restoring your MacBook to factory settings will delete all content and settings. To avoid data loss risk, back up your Mac using Time Machine or iCloud beforehand.
  2. If you have never backed up your Mac, consider using BuhoCleaner, the best Mac cleaner, to delete unnecessary files before backing up to save the time and space needed for backup.

If you don't have the Apple ID information or FileVault recovery key, keep reading to learn how to factory reset your MacBook Pro without Apple ID or Recovery Key.

Factory Reset MacBook Pro Without Password in Internet Recovery Mode

Internet Recovery Mode allows you to directly erase your Mac's hard drive and install macOS from Apple's servers over the internet. It can bypass user authentication and does not require an admin password when erasing your Mac's hard drive. Before proceeding to factory reset your MacBook Pro without password in the Internet Recovery Mode, make sure you have a working Internet network.

Step 1. Boot your Mac into the Internet Recovery Mode. How you boot in Internet macOS Recovery depends on the type of Mac you have.

  • Intel-based Mac:

    1. Turn off your Mac.
    2. Press the power/Touch ID button and immediately press and hold the Option-Command-R keys on your keyboard.
      How to enter Internet Recovery Mode with Command Option R keys
    3. Release keys when you see the Apple logo or you hear a chime.
    4. You should see the macOS Utilities window after a few seconds.
  • Mac with Apple Silicon:

    1. Turn off your Mac.
    2. Press the power/Touch ID button to turn your Mac on and immediately press and hold it.
    3. Release the power/Touch ID button until you see the startup options screen.
      How to enter macOS Recovery Mode on Mac with Apple Silicon
    4. Click Options, then Continue.
    5. You should see the macOS Utilities window.

Step 2. Erase Mac boot disk in Disk Utility.

  1. Choose Disk Utilities in the macOS Utilities window.
    Disk Utilities in Mac Recovery Mode
  2. When Disk Utility opens, choose the Mac hard drive in the sidebar, usually called Apple SSD or Macintosh HD.
  3. Click Erase in the toolbar.
    How to erase Mac hard drive in Mac Recovery Mode
  4. Give the disk a name, format it as APFS, and then click Erase to confirm.
  5. When you see a message saying the disk has been successfully erased, quit Disk Utility.

Step 3. Install macOS on your Mac.

From the macOS Utilities screen, select Reinstall macOS to install the latest version of macOS compatible with your Mac. Follow the on-screen instructions to reinstall macOS. The reinstallation process may take some time. Once complete, follow the instructions to create a new admin user account and set up your MacBook.

How to reinstall macOS Sonoma in Recovery Mode

Factory Reset MacBook Air Without Password with a Bootable macOS Installer

Alternatively, if the macOS reinstallation over the internet fails or gets stuck, you can create a bootable installer for macOS. By erasing the Mac boot disk and installing macOS from the bootable installer, you can remove all user accounts, settings, and data from the previous owner and start fresh on your MacBook Air.

However, these advanced steps are primarily for experienced users who are familiar with entering commands in the Terminal. You will need an empty 32 GB USB flash drive for creating a bootable installer.

Step 1. Create a USB macOS bootable installer.

  1. Download the macOS version you want to install on your Mac from the App Store or your web browser.
    Download macOS Sonoma installer
  2. Connect the USB flash drive directly to your Mac.
  3. Open Terminal, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  4. Run the command in Terminal. Replace Sonoma with the name of the macOS version you downloaded. Replace MyVomume with the name of your USB flash drive.

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ Sonoma.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume

How to create macOS bootable installer
  1. When prompted, type your administrator password and then press Return.
  2. When prompted, type Y to confirm that you want to erase your USB flash drive, then press Return.
  3. Follow the Terminal prompts to complete creating an install media.
  4. Quit Terminal and eject your USB flash drive which now has the same name as the installer, such as Install macOS Sonoma.

Step 2. Erase boot disk on the MacBook Air in Recovery Mode.

You can follow the steps above to boot your Mac into Recovery Mode and use Disk Utility to erase your Mac's hard drive. After the startup disk has been erased, you can turn off your MacBook Air.

Step 3. Install macOS from the USB macOS bootable installer.

When your MacBook Air is turned off, connect the bootable installer to the computer. Ensure your Mac is compatible with the macOS version on the installer and can connect to the internet. How you use the bootable installer depends on your Mac model.

  • Intel-based Mac:

    1. Turn on the Mac, then immediately press and hold the Option (Alt) key.
    2. the Option key when you see a dark screen showing your bootable volumes, including the bootable installer.
      Use bootable installer on Intel Mac
    3. Select the bootable installer. Then click the onscreen arrow or press Return. if you are using a Mac with the Apple T2 Security Chip, make sure that Startup Security Utility is set to allow booting from external media.
    4. Select Install macOS from the Utilities window, then click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions.
  • Mac with Apple Silicon:

    1. Turn on the Mac and continue to hold the power button until you see the startup options window, which shows your bootable volumes, including the bootable installer.
      Use bootable Installer on Mac with Apple Silicon
    2. Select the bootable installer, then click Continue.
    3. When the macOS installer opens, follow the onscreen installation instructions.

Once the macOS installation is completed, your MacBook Air will restart and you can set up your Mac with a new admin account.

Equip Your Mac with BuhoCleaner to Ensure Best Performance At All Times

After setting up your device as a new Mac, it's time to install some useful apps to enhance work productivity, system security, and performance. BuhoCleaner is a simple yet powerful Mac cleaner app that you should have on your Mac. It is 100% free and safe to install on your Mac.

Key features:

  • Free up Mac space in one click
  • Deleting unwanted large files quickly
  • Identify and remove all duplicated photos, documents, and other items
  • Completely uninstall applications and associated files
  • Efficiently manage your startup items to boost Mac boot speed
  • Release RAM to reduce lags
  • Monitor system status and disk usage in real time

Conclusion

This article discusses how to factory reset a MacBook without password. The first solution is to reset the admin password using an Apple ID or the FileVault recovery key. If you don't have the password, Apple ID, or recovery key, you need to erase your Mac's boot disk in Internet Recovery Mode and reinstall macOS either via Apple servers or a removable bootable installer.

Resetting a Mac without a password is challenging, but by following the steps in this article, you should be able to set up your secondhand Mac as a new one. After starting fresh with your Mac, install BuhoCleaner for your Mac to help you manage your disk space and performance effectively.

Cassie has been writing about technology for her entire career life - over 5 years. She enjoys diving into how Apple products work and then breaking it down in a way anyone can understand.