How do I reinstall a mac OS or clean my macbook of files without a DVD player?
August 9, 2012 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I have an old white Macbook (5ish years old). I want to give it to a friend, but want to do a wipe of the computer and reinstall the OS before giving it away. However, the DVD drive is dead, which prevents me from doing a clean wipe of the computer. How do I clean my computer to ensure all personal docs and file are gone, and/or do a full OS reboot so I can give it away?
posted by evadery to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
External DVD drive.
posted by davejay at 1:28 PM on August 9, 2012

If you have another Mac around, and both have Firewire ports, I'd suggest booting the old MacBook in Target Disk Mode. You can then wipe/reinstall from the newer computer.

Alternatively, you can create an install USB stick from some versions of Mac OS, though I don't know how well the newer versions will play with an older Macbook.
posted by themadthinker at 1:29 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

You have a couple of options. You could use DVD Sharing from another Mac. You could connect the MacBook to a newer Mac if both have a Firewire port and use Firewire Target Disk Mode. You could make a USB flash drive installer of the operating system—note that there are different instructions for different versions of the OS, so make sure you double-check which version you're installing.
posted by bcwinters at 1:29 PM on August 9, 2012

What I usually do in these situations, assuming my friend is not a leet hacker type who would actually try to get my old deleted information, is this.

1. Make a new user account
2. Give that new account admin privileges
3. Log in with that user account
4. Delete my personal user account completely
5. Toss out old applications and utilities I don't use or need
6. Use disk utility to erase free space
6. Do "secure empty trash" from under the Finder menu

If you have another Mac and firewire you may be able to do this.
posted by jessamyn at 1:30 PM on August 9, 2012 [4 favorites]

You can wipe out your old files without reinstalling the OS. Create a new user account, log in as that user, then delete your old account. This will create an archive of your old user directory, which you are then free to toss in the trash. Then once that's done, you can erase free space in Disk Utility.
posted by zsazsa at 1:31 PM on August 9, 2012

Best answer: Once you've backed everything up, you can take it into your local genius bar and they will wipe the computer and update the OS for free.

(Or at least that's what they did for me at the Apple Store at the Americana in Glendale, CA. The guy who was helping me said they do it all the time. You should probably call your local store first.)
posted by justjess at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

According to this article that came out Monday, you can remotely wipe your MacBook's hard drive from an iCloud account. (Alas, the article's writer found that out the hard way...)
posted by limeonaire at 3:33 PM on August 9, 2012

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