How to Factory Reset a Mac or MacBook (macOS Monterey).
As you continue to use macOS 12 Monterey on your Mac, you may run into instances that require you to reset system software to factory defaults. Whether it’s selling a macOS device, fixing a persistent problem, or just starting from scratch, this guide will help you get the job done.
However, before you start, we recommend that you back up your data with Time Machine. This will help you quickly restore data to the same or another Mac later. If you are using any other cloud or local backup, double-check if everything is in order to avoid data loss.
Use macOS Monterey’s Erase Assistant
macOS Monterey comes with an erasing assistant—a first for any version of macOS—that allows you to factory reset everything right from within the operating system itself. It is very similar to the Erase Helper in iOS and iPadOS.
However, this feature is only available if your Mac runs on an Apple Silicon chip (such as M1) or contains an Apple T2 security chip. If you are using an Intel Mac without a T2 chip, skip to the next section.
1. Open the System Preferences app on your Mac. If it’s not in the Dock, open the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
2. Select System Preferences > Erase All Content and Settings from the menu bar.
3. Enter the administrator password and click OK.
Note. If you don’t have an administrator account, you can’t use the Erase Assistant to reset macOS Monterey to factory defaults. Instead, you should probably ask your administrator for help.
4. If you have set up Time Machine on your Mac, you will be prompted to make a new backup. Select “Open Time Machine” and initiate a Time Machine backup. Then select Continue.
5. Review the settings your Mac will remove. This includes your Apple ID, Touch ID fingerprints, Bluetooth accessories, Find My Mac, and more. If you have multiple user accounts on your Mac, you’ll also find them listed on the screen. When you’re done, select Continue.
6. If you’re signed into your Mac with an Apple ID, enter its password to deactivate Activation Lock. Then select Continue.
7. Select Delete All Content and Settings. If you change your mind, this is your last chance to cancel and exit Erase Assistant!
8. Wait for the Erase Assistant to finish restoring your Mac to factory settings. In the meantime, your Mac will restart and you will see the Apple logo with a progress bar below it.
9. After the reset procedure, Erase Assistant will prompt you to reactivate your Mac. To do this, connect your device to an Ethernet connection. Or select the Wi-Fi icon in the upper right corner of the screen and connect to an available Wi-Fi network. When the message “Your Mac is activated” appears on the screen, select Restart.
10. Select “Get Started” on the welcome screen. This will launch the Setup Assistant. If you are planning to sell your Mac, press Command + Q and turn off your Mac. Or use the setup assistant to set up your Mac from scratch.
If you choose to customize your Mac, you will be given the option to restore your Mac’s data with a Time Machine backup. You can skip this if you want and use the Migration Assistant to restore everything later. For detailed step-by-step instructions, see our guide to recovering a Mac with Time Machine.
Erase and Reinstall via macOS Recovery
If you are using an Intel Mac without the Apple T2 Security Chip, you must log in and use macOS Recovery to reset your Mac to factory default settings. The procedure includes cleaning the boot disk and reinstalling the system software. Don’t worry, you won’t need external macOS installation media.
Sign out of iMessage and iCloud
If you’re going to sell or gift your Mac, you can take a few minutes to sign out of iMessage and iCloud. This minimizes the chance of account-related issues when using your Apple ID on other Apple devices you own.
iMessage: Open the Messages app and choose Messages > Preferences from the menu bar. Then go to the iMessage tab and select Sign Out.
iCloud: Open the Apple menu and choose System Preferences > Apple ID. Then go to the iCloud side tab and select Sign Out.
Enter macOS Recovery Mode
macOS Recovery is a dedicated recovery environment for your Mac. You can access it when you boot up your Mac with a specific keyboard shortcut.
1. Turn off your Mac.
2. Hold down the Command + R keys and press the power button to turn it back on.
3. Release the keys when you see the Apple logo. Your Mac will momentarily enter macOS Recovery Mode.
Erase Mac in macOS Recovery Mode
You must use the Disk Utility app in macOS Recovery to wipe your Mac.
1. Select Disk Utility from the macOS Recovery menu. Then select Continue.
2. Select Macintosh HD from the sidebar. Then click the “Erase” button in the upper left corner of the screen.
4. Set the name to Macintosh HD and the format to APFS. Then select “Erase” to erase your Mac. If you see an “Erase Volume Group” button, select it.
5. Select Done. You must then exit Disk Utility by selecting Disk Utility > Exit Disk Utility from the menu bar.
Reinstall macOS Monterey
Now that you’ve wiped your Mac, it’s time to reinstall macOS Monterey.
1. Select Reinstall macOS Monterey from the macOS Recovery menu. Then select Continue.
2. Select Continue and accept the license terms. Then select Macintosh HD as the target drive.
3. Wait for your Mac to finish installing macOS Monterey. This may take up to an hour or more.
4. When the Setup Assistant appears, press Command + Q and turn off your Mac if you plan to sell it or give it as a gift.
If not, use the Setup Assistant to set up your Mac for personal use again. You can restore your data with a Time Machine backup during the setup step or after using the Migration Assistant.
Erase Mac Using Find My
Another method is to use the Find My app on another iPhone, iPad, or Mac you own to reset macOS Monterey to factory defaults. This applies to any Monterey compatible MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, or Mac mini. It’s best used if you’re not physically near your Mac.
1. Open the Find My app on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Or sign in to iCloud.com on any web browser and select Latitude.
2. Select “Devices” and select your Mac.
3. Select “Erase Device” and select “Continue” to erase your Mac. If the Mac is offline, it will start erasing itself the next time it comes online.
If you have sold or given away an Apple Silicon Mac or a Mac with an Apple T2 security chip inside, you must also select the Remove Device option to remove Activation Lock. This is the only way to allow the new owner to set up and use the device.
macOS Monterey Reset to Factory Defaults
With Erase Assistant, it’s pretty easy to reset your Mac to factory defaults if you’re using a newer Mac with an Apple Silicon or T2 chip inside. If not, you should resort to a macOS restore (which looks tricky, but not that hard). You also have the option to use Find My if you don’t have a Mac.