Prepping a McBook Pro for sale.
April 4, 2016 12:30 PM   Subscribe

I've got a 2011 MBP that I'd like to prep for sale. It's still running Snow Leopard (and I don't have the boot disks.) What's the easiest, most idiot-proof way to wipe it clean so I can sell it? Is it worth going to the Apple Store for this sort of thing?
posted by Tamanna to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Nah, it's easy. Be sure that you have Find My iPhone turned off. Then boot into the recovery partition, wipe the drive to your level of comfort (3 passes is plenty) and you'll be good to go. No boot disk required. You can Google for tutorials on this, but it's pretty much idiot-proof.
posted by wnissen at 12:49 PM on April 4, 2016

Enter OS X Recovery mode.

When the Recovery mode is fully started, run the Disk Utility and select the MBP's internal hard drive.

If you have any external disks unplugged and removed (hard drives, flash drives, etc.) then there will be only one hard drive listed.

Do a Secure Erase of the hard drive. You can drag the Secure Erase options slider to the right to do a more secure wipe of the data, though this will take more time to finish.

If you want to completely prepare it for sale (and be nice to the person you're selling it to), when the secure erase is complete, you can quit the Disk Utility to return to the OS X Recovery mode screen and select the Reinstall OS X option to install a clean copy of OS X.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:07 PM on April 4, 2016

If it came with Snow Leopard (10.6), it could be an early-2011 model, which IIRC does not have a Recovery mode. That was introduced with Lion (10.7).
posted by neckro23 at 1:08 PM on April 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Good point. Can you upgrade it over the network? This should make it possible to enter Recovery mode.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:17 PM on April 4, 2016

It does not have Recovery mode, no. I'm hesitant to upgrade it because it's just not that powerful a machine and I don't want to risk throwing a system it can't handle on.
posted by Tamanna at 1:21 PM on April 4, 2016

Perhaps you could borrow or buy a retail Snow Leopard DVD (example) and boot your MBP from that to run Disk Utility and apply the secure erase.

If you take it to an Apple Store, there's no guarantee of what they could do for a machine out of warranty. You might call one local to you and ask what they could do, before going.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2016

I have done this before at the Apple store. They have a little thingy they can plug in that completely wipes and re-images the machine with the latest OS. It takes <20 min if you have an appointment. I highly recommend doing this. Warranty status shouldn't matter.
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Just as a data point, I have an MBP vintage 2009, and it claims to be able to run the latest OS. (I haven't done it, though, because it does everything I need it to do as is.) It's out of warranty, of course, but I believe it's not been EOL'd so jeffmaphone's suggestion is worth looking into.
posted by qurlyjoe at 1:39 PM on April 4, 2016

These instructions from Apple Support are what I used a few months ago to reformat my 2008 MacBook for sale. Worked like a charm. I didn't need any boot disks.
posted by lizbunny at 2:45 PM on April 4, 2016

I have an MBP vintage 2009, and it claims to be able to run the latest OS

I'm still running the latest OSX on a late-2011 model with no problems at all. I'd say if you have 8GB of RAM (and that's a cheap upgrade for the 2011 model) it shouldn't be an issue. I do have an SSD in there though, so YMMV.
posted by neckro23 at 4:26 PM on April 4, 2016

If it were me, I don't see any reason I wouldn't just upgrade the OS then format/restore from the recovery partition. Any OS above your current OS will let you do this, and every OS above your current OS has been a free upgrade. You won't be able to install an OS that your machine doesn't meet the requirements for, so you have little to fear as far as "overloading" it or anything like that.

If that's not the route you want to go, and you want to truly format/restore the machine, you'll need to boot from something external before you can restore it. Typically this is the restore discs, which you mentioned you don't have any longer. That means replacing these discs just to do this, or finding another way -- such as putting the machine in Target Disk Mode and connecting it to another Mac via FireWire or Thunderbolt and using the second Mac to erase the first. More complex, and leaves it without a bootable OS, but it's an option.

On the other hand, here's an option if you want to erase just your files but don't care about applications, system settings, etc. You'll go to System Preferences > Users & Groups and click the lock to authenticate. Create a new generic Admin user account. Now log out of your personal account and into the new generic Admin account. Go back to System Preferences > Users & Groups, and delete your personal account. Do not store it as a disk image. For good measure, go to Disk Utility in /Applications/Utilities, and choose Erase Free Space on your hard drive to make previously deleted data unrecoverable. Not a true format/restore but that's what I'll do when passing a machine on to a friend or family member.

Good luck!
posted by churl at 5:00 PM on April 4, 2016

It will probably be easier to sell with a newer OS. I have an older MacBook and it runs 10.8.5 just fine. Might as well put something somewhat newer on there.
posted by bongo_x at 10:38 PM on April 4, 2016

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