Help me make my old dirty MacBook a nice Clean Mac for my mom!
September 14, 2011 9:37 AM   Subscribe

A new MacBook Air means I'm giving my old MacBook to my mom... Please help me clean it out and make sure it's mom-safe!

So I broke down and bought a brand new MacBook Air since I'm starting grad school and my old MacBook was kind of struggling. I'm just getting over the sticker-shock of the Air, and I am going to give my mom the old MacBook, since she'll use it for e-mail, looking things up in The Google, and watching youtubes that her friends forward her. Really basic stuff, that I'm sure the old 'puter can handle since she won't be running it as hard as I did.

(Full disclosure: we were never a particularly computer-savvy fam, and my dad did get an iMac for the house, but apparently he ruins every computer he touches, and now my mom can't find anything she needs on that computer and I guess he's messed with the settings or something so he can't either. I bought him a "one-to-one" membership when I bought *my* new Air, so hopefully he can use it and this situation can be corrected a little)

My real question, though, is how do I sanitize this computer before I give it to her to make sure *all* my business is off of it before I give it to her? I don't want to wipe it completely, because I'd like to keep the applications on it that I've installed, but I didn't want the usual stuff popping up: my passwords, preferences, etc. I was going to uninstall Safari and Firefox and just reinstall them. Would this eliminate all my passwords, history, bookmarks, add-ons, preferences, etc., etc...?

I've used AppZapper to get rid of all the applications she won't need (Transmission and the like) but what else should I be doing? Is there a systematic way to go through and clean it out? Is there any place I should be looking in particular that things might get stashed w/o me knowing?

Mostly, I just want to make sure it's as lean and clean as possible before I give it to her (as I mentioned, it was chugging as it is), and I'm not horribly worried about my personal information- I'm not selling it to a stranger, I'm giving it to my mom, after all- but I don't necessarily want my bank statement to pop up so she can see how poor I am, or anything like that. I'm sure you all "get it".

So, a corollary question as well: are there any applications or things I *SHOULD* put on the computer for her before I give it to her? I have Connoisseur and MacGourmet on there. And I've updated Microsoft Office, and as I said: I was going to include Safari and Firefox as browsers. Any other ideas? Any of you have moms that like some particular mac software? (preferably cheap/free, of course!)

Thanks so much in advance! And also in advance, I'll send a thanks from my mom! =)
posted by indiebass to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Why don't you just do a reinstall of the OS and choose one of the more advanced erase options for the disk? Factory fresh, without all your embarrassing 'files'.
posted by xmutex at 9:38 AM on September 14, 2011

Clear your browsing history etc. in the browser. Delete your password keychain, or better yet, create a new account and delete your old one. Delete files and apps you don't want her to have. You're done. However, a fresh re-install of the OS is best and it is easy to do.
posted by michaelh at 9:41 AM on September 14, 2011

xmutex, he answers that in the question: "I don't want to wipe it completely, because I'd like to keep the applications on it that I've installed"
posted by brainmouse at 9:41 AM on September 14, 2011

Best answer: Uninstalling/reinstalling Safari and Firefox will not clear out your passwords and such. That information is stored in your Library separate from the apps. What you should do is just create a new user account for your mom, get that set up, then delete your old user on the laptop. All the apps will still be there, but with a clean slate as far as user preferences, profiles, storage, and so on.
posted by zsazsa at 9:49 AM on September 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

If it's no longer your computer, is there a good reason to keep the apps you've added? From what you've outlined as your mother's needs (email, google, youtube) it sounds like a fresh install will have everything covered. I would just re-install Office (or NeoOffice) and make sure her Mail, iTunes, Paypal and any other online accounts are set up properly.

It'll give you peace of mind.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:52 AM on September 14, 2011

Best answer: Create a new user account, zap the old one, do a quick sweep for any naughty apps that don't respect the use of ~/Library for personal stuff. This can create the odd ownership/permissions-based issue when updating applications, if they were owned by a deleted user, but that's not a huge problem.
posted by holgate at 10:02 AM on September 14, 2011

Maybe don't give her the admin password? Create a new admin user for yourself (since you'll have wiped your old user account to get rid of your files). That'll limit what she can do as far as installing/uninstalling stuff. Set Software Update not to run automatically and just do them whenever you see her.
posted by davextreme at 10:40 AM on September 14, 2011

For the love of all that is good and holy, install LogMeIn and make it run for all users. It's the best tech support tool I know of overall, because you can use it for free from basically anywhere, and there's even a version you can use on iOS devices.

You know. Just in case.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:02 PM on September 14, 2011

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