Getting Rid of an Old Mac? Follow These Steps to Prep It for Its Next Life

Getting Rid of an Old Mac? Follow These Steps to Prep It for Its Next Life

If a new Mac has recently arrived in your life, you may be thinking of what to do with the older one. Did you know, if your old Mac is from 2010 or later, Simply Computing will buy it from you. Our trade-in rates are the most competitive around. You might be surprised how much your old tech can get you. Check out our Trade-in Calculator here.

Apart from trading in, you may decide to pass your old Mac to a friend or family member and give it a new life. Whatever you decide to do, even if it’s recycling, be sure to follow these steps to ensure that your data and personal information is safe.


Before anything else, make a backup. Do this even if you’ve already migrated your data to your new Mac, since it’s possible that data could have been corrupted during the transfer without you realizing. Time Machine is the best way to backup. Time Machine is a piece of software built in to the operating system of your Mac. It is very easy to set up with an external hard drive and will do automatic, comprehensive backups of your data. If you need help setting up Time Machine, Apple has a guide here.

If you need an external backup hard drive, Simply Computing has the solution for you. Check out our range of HDs here.

Deauthorize iTunes

Before passing on your old Mac, it’s very important to deauthorize iTunes. This is because Apple allows you to play content purchased from iTunes only on up to five devices associated with your Apple ID, so be sure to deauthorize Macs that you won't use again before passing them on.

To do this, open iTunes and choose Account > Authorizations > Deauthorize This Computer. Enter your Apple ID credentials when prompted.

If you’ve forgotten to do this, you can deauthorize all your computers once per year (and then add back those you still have). To do this in iTunes, choose Account > View My Account, and in the Apple ID Summary next to Computer Authorizations, click Deauthorize All.

For those of you who are running Catalina, you will need to ensure you deauthorize your account in the Music App

Sign Out of iCloud

Next, you should sign out of iCloud to remove any connection between your iCloud account and the old Mac. Doing so disconnects the Mac from synchronization of your iCloud data.

To do this, open System Preferences > iCloud, and click the Sign Out button. If you’ve been syncing via iCloud Drive, Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, and so on, the Mac will ask if you want to keep the data on the Mac or delete it. You don’t have to delete it since you’ll erase the Mac’s drive in a future step.

If you would like to learn more about iCloud, be sure to check out our free seminars here.

Sign Out of iMessage

Much as with iCloud, you should sign out of your iMessage account, at least if your Mac is running OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion or later. To do this, open Messages and choose Messages > Preferences > Accounts. Select your iMessage account and click Sign Out. (In 10.14 Mojave, instead of clicking Accounts in the toolbar, click iMessage.)

Erase the Drive and Reinstall macOS

Here’s the most important step—erasing the Mac’s drive. After all, you don’t want the next user to be able to access all your photos, documents, email, and more. Luckily, this is easy to do.

First, start up from macOS Recovery by holding down Command-R while the Mac boots. In the macOS Utilities window that appears, select Disk Utility and click Continue.

In Disk Utility, select the internal drive, click Erase in the toolbar, and in the dialog that appears, enter a new name, choose a format, and choose GUID Partition Map for the scheme. For the format, stick with the default, since the macOS installer will convert it later if necessary. Quit Disk Utility when you’re done.

Once the drive is erased, you’ll be returned to the macOS Utilities window, where you can select Reinstall macOS (or Reinstall OS X, if it’s an older Mac) and click Continue. Press Command-Q at the Welcome screen to shut down. When the new user starts the Mac up again, they’ll be able to continue with the setup process. 

Some people may have sensitive personal or client data on their Mac, and a simple erase may not be sufficient. When you erase the way outlined above, the data is not technically erased until it has been written over by new data. This means that data recovery is possible and the next user - if they were so inclined - may be able to retrieve your information that you thought was ‘erased’.

To make sure 100% of your data cannot be retrieved, you may need to perform a ‘military-grade erasure’. Simply Computing offers this service for $49. Through special software, we are able to erase and re-write over your HD multiple times, ensuring no possible data recovery. Again, this is a very useful service for those with sensitive data or simply those who value peace-of-mind.

And just a reminder, if you have a Mac from 2010 or newer, we will offer you money for the machine. Check out our Trade-in Calculator here.

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