[2 Ways] How to Factory Reset a MacBook Air/Pro

Sarahi Johns
Last updated: Nov 29, 2023

In this blog post, you will learn why you need to factory reset your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro and how to reset it to factory settings without losing any data.

Are you facing sluggish performance, software glitches, or privacy concerns on your trusty MacBook Air or MacBook Pro? Over time, it's not uncommon for these issues to accumulate, and a factory reset might be the key to rejuvenating your Mac and starting afresh.

In this guide, we'll take you through the steps to perform a factory reset on your Mac, breathing new life into it while ensuring your valuable data remains safe. Whether you're preparing to sell your Mac, troubleshoot persistent problems, or simply want a clean slate, we've got you covered.

Let's get started.

[Step-By-Step] How to Factory Reset a MacBook Air/Pro

When to Factory Reset Your MacBook Pro/Air

Before diving into the process of resetting your MacBook to its factory settings, it's crucial to understand when it's appropriate to consider this action.

Here are some scenarios in which you might want to perform a factory reset on your MacBook:

  • Your MacBook is acting weird.
  • You've encountered problems with macOS updates.
  • Your MacBook's performance has noticeably declined, and you want to give it a fresh start.
  • You need to remove a significant amount of old or unnecessary data from your MacBook.
  • You're planning to sell, trade in, or give away your MacBook and want to ensure your data is securely wiped.

What to Do Before You Factory Reset Your MacBook

It's worth noting that resetting your MacBook will result in the loss of all data on your Mac. There's nothing more frustrating than losing important information. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you back up your MacBook before proceeding with the reset steps. Time Machine and iCloud are two excellent options for creating backups.

If this is your first time creating a backup for your Mac, you can use BuhoCleaner to clear unwanted files from your Mac beforehand. This can save you a significant amount of backup time later.

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Now that you have backed up your MacBook, let's see how to return it to factory settings.

How to Factory Reset MacBook Using "Erase Assistant"

Erase Assistant, a built-in tool available on macOS Monterey and later, provides a convenient method to reset your MacBook before trading, selling, or reinstalling macOS.

Use Erase Assistant to Reset MacBook

The "Erase Assistant" requires macOS Monterey or a later version and a Mac with the Apple silicon or Apple T2 Security Chip. To check which chip your MacBook uses, click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen and select About This Mac.

See what to do if Erase Assistant is not supported on your Mac.

Once you've confirmed that your MacBook is supported, follow these steps to reset it to factory settings:

  • On macOS Sonoma and Ventura:

    1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings > General.
    2. Choose Transfer or Reset, then click the Erase All Content and Settings button.
    3. When asked, enter your administrator password and continue.
    4. Follow the onscreen instructions to factory reset your MacBook.
Erase All Content and Settings on macOS Sonoma
  • On macOS Montery:

    1. Click the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
    2. From the System Preferences menu in the menu bar, choose Erase All Content and Settings.
    3. Enter your password, click Continue, and confirm your action.
If you have a MacBook with a T2 chip but are running macOS Big Sur or an earlier version, you'll need to upgrade to Monterey or Ventura to be able to use the "Erase All Content and Settings" feature.

When you see the message "Your Mac is activated", click the Restart option. After your Mac restarts, you can set it up as a new device.

Your Mac Is Activated

How to Factory Reset MacBook Using “macOS Recovery"

If the "Erase All Content and Settings" option is not available on your MacBook, you can still restore your Mac to factory settings using macOS Recovery mode.

Step #1. Sign Out of Apps

It's essential to sign out of apps that are currently in use, such as iTunes, iCloud, and iMessage, before proceeding with the factory reset.

How to Sign Out of iTunes

  1. Open iTunes.
  2. Click Account > Authorizations > Deauthorize This Computer.
  3. Enter your Apple ID and password, then click the Deauthorize button.
You can skip this step if you are using macOS Catalina or a later version.

How to Sign Out of iCloud

  • On macOS Big Sur and Catalina:

    1. Click the Apple menu and select System Preferences > Apple ID.
    2. In the Apple ID window, click the Sign Out button and confirm your action.
  • On macOS Mojave and Earlier:

    Click the Apple menu > System Preferences > iCloud > Sign Out.

How to Sign Out from iMessage

  1. Open the iMessage app.
  2. Click the iMessage menu and choose Preferences.
  3. Click iMessage, then click Sign Out.

Step #2. Erase MacBook in Recovery Mode

Once you have signed out of all the apps with active sessions, you can proceed to delete all data from your MacBook.

Here are the steps:

  1. Turn off your MacBook.
  2. Start your Mac in Recovery Mode: Press the Command-R keys while booting your Mac and release them when you see an Apple logo or other image appear.
  3. In the macOS Utilities window, choose Disk Utility, and click the Continue button.
  4. Select Macintosh HD in the Disk Utility's sidebar.
  5. Click the Erase button in the toolbar of Disk Utility.
  6. Choose your format: APFS or Mac OS Extended, then click Erase.
Erase MacBook with Disk Utility in macOS Recovery Mode
  1. When the erase process is complete, quit Disk Utility to go back to the macOS Utilities window.

Step #3. Reinstall macOS

Now, we've reached the final step – reinstalling macOS.

Here's what you need to do.

  1. Choose Reinstall macOS, and click the Continue button.
Reinstall macOS in Recovery Mode
  1. Agree to the agreement, select your startup disk, and click the Install button.
  2. Once the installation process is complete, set up your MacBook according to your needs.
Ensure that your Mac is connected to the internet and plugged into a power source.

Bonus Tip: How to Restore Your Backup to MacBook

If you need to restore your backup to your MacBook, follow the steps below:

  1. Plug the drive with the backup files saved into your MacBook.
  2. Launch Migration Assistant via Spotlight.
  3. Follow the onscreen instructions to transfer your information from Time Machine and click the Continue button.
  4. Choose the backup you want to restore and click Continue. Once the restoring process is complete, you are ready to use your MacBook.
Restore Backup to Mac


As you can see, resetting your MacBook becomes effortless if it supports the "Erase Assistant" feature. However, if this convenient reset option is unavailable, the process becomes more complicated.

Regardless of the method you choose, it is crucial to back up your Mac before resetting it to prevent any data loss.

Sarahi Johns

I'm Sarahi Johns, a tech enthusiast with a deep passion for all things iPhone, iPad and Mac. With expertise in crafting engaging tech content, I've authored numerous articles in the past 10 years, making me a trusted source for Apple enthusiasts.