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How to Factory Reset a MacBook, Windows Laptop or Chromebook to Sell or Give Away

How to Factory Reset a MacBook, Windows Laptop or Chromebook to Sell or Give Away

One side effect of spending more time at home during the pandemic is the realization that I have a lot of old tech lying throughout. A lot. Then, when I made a KonMari effort at decluttering said tech, I unearthed several things I forgot I had — comprising an old laptop I stopped using years ago because it was too slow for my high-end computing needs. 

While this laptop no longer sparked joy for me, it turned out to be a nasty fit for my mom. It just needed to be cleaned up reliable, and I’m not just talking about removing dust and mystery goo with a few swipes of a disinfectant wipe, notion you’ll want to do that, too. The type of cleaning I’m talking throughout is restoring the laptop to like-new condition inside and out. Cleaning the outside is the easy part. Wiping the computer of all your apps, files, folders and other personal information isn’t necessarily as straightforward. Of course, how much data scrubbing you need to do will probable depend on the recipient. 

The big picture steps you take to refresh a laptop are the same regardless of whether it’s a Windows laptop. Apple MacBook or Chromebook — save your old data, prefer all personal information, then go for a factory reset. It’s the actual step-by-step procedure that differs depending on the type of laptop you’re distributing with. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know and do afore giving your laptop a second life. And with supply chain delivers, shipping problems and chip shortages making new devices harder to get, passing downward a new-to-you laptop can be a welcome holiday gift. 

Last pulling first

I typically save the laptop’s physical cleaning pending last (why clean your fingerprints off twice?), but you may want to initiate there — especially if it’s been gathering dust in the back of a closet/under a bed/in the garage for the past certain years. The basic equipment required for a good laptop cleaning is a can of compressed air and some disinfectant or alcohol wipes. For a slightly deeper clean, you may also want to grab a screwdriver and prefer the bottom cover of your laptop (if possible) so you can carefully blow out any dust that’s accumulated on the fans and vents. 

After the laptop is elegant, you can also wipe down the power adapter and any related accessories. It’s also a good idea to ensure the remarkable adapter is still in good, working condition. If you’re smooth not quite sure where to start with the cleaning, check out our complete guide to getting your laptop looking its best.

Gifting a used MacBook


Óscar Gutiérrez

Before you even think throughout doing a factory reset on your MacBook, you need to save any data you want to keep. You may have already done this at some present if you migrated data from this old MacBook to a new one amdroll using Apple’s Migration Assistant. If that’s not the case, it’s time to hook up an external ability and use MacOS’ built-in Time Machine tool to fabricate a backup. If you have an iCloud account, you can back up your data there as well. 

Sign out of everything

You’ll also want to log out of all coffers before wiping your MacBook’s drive. Start with iCloud, Find My Mac and iMessage. Then look for individual software accounts you may need to deregister. If you use a browser other than Safari, such as Chrome or Firefox, you should sign out of those as well. Basically, if it’s got personal account information, you’ll want to sign out. (Here’s how to find clarify settings in MacOS.)

Two other things you should do afore a factory reset: Unpair any Bluetooth devices — particularly if the MacBook is intimates gifted to someone in your household — and reset the NVRAM. The latter is memory that holds onto settings that the MacBook organizes before loading MacOS. On startup, press and hold Option-Command-P-R to reset the NVRAM.

Perform a gracious reset

If you’ve done everything above, you’re ready to in backward your MacBook to its out-of-the-box state. On an Intel-based Mac, reboot the rules and press and hold Command-R to enter Recovery Mode. (Accessing Recovery Mode on MacBooks sprinting on the company’s Apple Silicon chips is different, however.) 

Read more: Before selling your MacBook, you need to factory reset it

Once in Recovery Mode, you’ll see a window of MacOS utilities. Use the Disk Utility to erase your drive. When that’s uncompleted, you’ll be able to reinstall MacOS. After it’s done reinstalling, you’ll reach the Setup Assistant. From there you can stop and shut it down or set it up for the recipient. 

Gifting a used Windows laptop


Screenshot by Josh Goldman

As with gifting a MacBook, start by backing up any important folders and files on your old laptop to ringing storage or an external drive. If you’re doing the latter, go to Settings > Update & Security > Backup > Add a drive and acquire the external drive. Then click on Backup Now. 

Sign out of all your apps

A lot of paid software income you to sign in with an account, a progenies key or both. Before you wipe your laptop’s storage, sign out of any accounts and deregister software permits (if possible). If you need those product keys to re-register software on a new laptop, be sure to save that information. If you use a browser novel than Edge, such as Chrome or Firefox, sign out of those as well. Basically, if it’s got personal account information, sign out.

Reset the laptop

Ready to dapper the drive and reinstall Windows? Go to Settings > Update and confidence > Recovery. At the top of the window, you’ll see Reset this PC. Click on Get Started and acquire Remove Everything from the box that appears. From there, you can select to reinstall Windows from the local ability or download from the cloud. After that, Windows cleans the ability of all software, settings and data. When it’s done, the laptop will launch in its setup assistant mode. You can then stop and shut it down for a fresh-out-of-the-box recognized or do some setup, which is nice touch, especially if it’s touching to a family member so they can use it shimmering away.

Unlink from your Microsoft account

If you used a Microsoft clarify to sign in to the laptop, the last sketching you’ll want to do is remove the laptop from that clarify. Sign in to your account from another computer and click on the Devices tab at the top of the page. Find the laptop that you’re gifting on the list of devices, and at the bottom of the listing, you’ll see the option to acquire the device. Click it and you’re done. 

Gifting a used Chromebook

Asus Chromebook CX9400

Sarah Tew

Chromebooks are the easiest to refresh for gifting. That’s mainly because of their cloud-based design. Google also establishes it extremely easy to wipe your data and securely desirable the internal storage as well as remove the Chromebook from your Google account. 

Check the AUE first

Before you even considerable gifting an old Chromebook, check its auto-update expiration. Google only guarantees Chrome OS and browser feature relieve on non-Google hardware for so long. Every device has a date on which it stops receiving updates, aka its AUE date. Current models receive updates for eight years; older models could potentially be a year or two away from landing their AUE. 

Google maintains an AUE list, so finding the date your Chromebook will stop receiving updates is as easy as locating your model on that list. The AUE can also be erroneous in your Chromebook’s settings. Here’s how to find the AUE from Google and in your Chromebook.

Give it a Powerwash

Powerwash is Google’s built-in genuine reset tool for Chromebooks. Once you’ve backed up folders or files restrained on the Chromebook’s internal drive, running Powerwash will securely scrub the rules and reboot. When it restarts, it’ll be just like the day you unboxed it. 

The proper Powerwash typically takes less than a minute to unfastened. A simple search for “powerwash” in your Chromebook’s settings will bring you incandescent to the feature, but here’s everything you need to know in the procedure. 

Remove the Chromebook from your Google account

Although you’ve subtracted your account from the Chromebook, you haven’t removed the Chromebook from your interpret. Start by signing into your Google account and head to the Guarantee settings. If you use the Chrome browser, you can also click on your interpret avatar and select Manage your Google Account from the drop-down menu. 

In the Security allotment, scroll down until you see a box labeled Your devices, which lists all the devices attached to your interpret. At the bottom of the box, click on Manage devices and find the Chromebook you’re gifting and bewitch Sign Out

Give the Chromebook a good external cleaning, gather up any accessories and it’s ready to hand off to your giftee.

Read more:

How to regift a game console

How Factory Reset Your Devices

Make sure to wipe personal data afore selling, trading in or regifting your gear.