How to Reset a MacBook to Factory Settings Without Disc

Whether you are selling your MacBook, giving it to a friend or neighbor or you just want to start over with a fresh clean system, you may have a need to erase your hard drive and reinstall macOS so that your system is reset to its original factory settings.

This sounds like a bit of a scary process, but don’t let it get to you. It’s really not that hard to do and it can be very beneficial in many situations such as the ones I mentioned above.

I’m Eric and I have been working with many different types of computer systems over the last 4 decades. I have seen many situations where a computer needs a fresh start and resetting to factory settings can do this for you. 

Thankfully MacBooks make it fairly easy to do this. It wasn’t too long ago that you had to have a disc and quite a bit of computer knowledge for this process, but that’s no longer needed with your MacBook. 

Keep reading further if you would like to learn how to do this.

Things To Prepare

Before you begin the process of restoring your system to its original factory settings, there is one very important thing to know. Doing this is going to completely erase all the information on your hard drive. This means that all of your data will be gone.

If you have anything you would like to save or any important information, you will need to back up that data to another device or to the cloud. 

Since your intent is to reset to factory settings, you won’t need a complete backup and restore. Otherwise, the restore will restore your system back to where it is now. Most likely you will just want to copy/backup specific files that you want to keep.

Apple has some good tips on how and where you can create backups and the type of backups you can do. You may just need to simply use iCloud to store the files you wish to keep.

Below is a list of things you should have prepared before you start.

  • Important files and data backed up – As mentioned above you may have files you want to keep.
  • An internet connection – You will need an internet connection in order to reinstall macOS without a disc. Your internet connection allows you to get access to the required software.
  • Your power adapter plugged into your MacBook – You don’t want your battery to die in the middle of this process.

Reset to Factory Settings

Now that you have everything prepared and ready to go, let’s get started. We are going to tackle this in two different parts. First, we will erase the volume from your hard drive that contains all your files and macOS. Then we will reinstall macOS.

Erase the Volume

Step 1: Start your Mac in macOS Recovery mode. There are two different ways to do this depending on the chipset your Mac has. You don’t really have to find out which one your is if you don’t want to. If one method does not work, just try the other.

  • Method 1 (Apple chipset): Shut down your Mac. Once it is completely powered down, hold down the power button until you see the message Loading Startup Options. Select Options, click continue and follow the instructions you see on the screen.
  • Method 2 (Intel chipset): Go to the Apple menu and select Restart. As soon as your system begins to start back up hold down the Command and R keys.

Step 2: Once the Recovery app opens up, select Disk Utility and then click on Continue.

Step 3: With the Disk Utility, select the volume you would like to erase on the sidebar.

Step 4: Click Erase in the toolbar.

Step 5: In the Name field, enter a name for the volume.

Step 6: Click on the Format field and select APFS if it has not already been selected.

Step 7: Click on Erase Volume Group.

Step 8: When the process completes, click Done.

Step 9: Get out of the Disk Utility by selecting Disk Utility > Quit Disk Utility.

Your disc has now been cleared off and your macOS is gone. Stay in the Recovery app for the next section where you will reinstall macOS.

Reinstall macOS

Step 1: Select Reinstall macOS Big Sur from the Recovery app window and click Continue.

Step 2: On the next screen, when you are ready, click on the Continue button.

Step 3: Follow the instructions on your screen which will walk you through the process.

Step 4: Once completed your system will restart, follow the initial setup process to get macOS configured on your machine.

Once these steps have been completed your MacBook should be back to its original factory settings. After you have done the initial set up you can then load the data or files you backed up back onto the machine and you can also download and install any apps you want to put back.

Why Do A Factory Reset?

If you have heard of people doing a factory reset but are a little unsure of why anyone would do this, that is understandable. Like many others, you may be thinking why would I want to wipe out my hard drive and start over?

There are many reasons that someone may wish to do this. Below are just a few of the most common.

Selling or Giving Away your MacBook

If you are selling your system to someone or even giving it to a friend, family member, or neighbor, it is a good idea to do a factory reset. Doing so will clear off any personal data you have on the computer and keep it from getting into unwanted hands.

Also, you may think you have some great apps loaded on your system but the new user may not want them or have any use for them, therefore it’s better to just get rid of everything and let them start with s fresh clean new system.

Bought or received a used MacBook

On the other hand, if you have bought a used MacBook or you are lucky enough for someone to give you one but they have not cleaned their data off of it, you may want to clean the system up yourself. The easiest way to do this is by resetting it to factory settings.

They may have some wonderful things loaded on the computer, but you have no idea what it is and you probably want to have a clean fresh start so that you know the computer doesn’t have anything on it that may slow it down or cause issues.

Corrupted macOS

It doesn’t happen very often because macOS is very efficient and secure, but there are times when your computer can get corrupted with something. That corruption can possibly cause performance issues or even security risks.

There are often ways to fix these problems, but sometimes they can be difficult and if you have spent too much time trying to resolve the issues you may just decide to clear everything off and go back to the beginning. It’s the simplest way to fix a software problem you can not figure out.

Just want a fresh start

It’s possible you may just be tired of all the clutter and unused apps that have piled up over time on your system. You may feel like your system is bogged down and you don’t want to spend the time going through to find and remove every little thing you no longer use.

A factory reset can be like getting a whole new system. Everything will be reset back to the way it was the day you first got your MacBook. No, it may not run like the latest and greatest models that have just come out, but it will feel new and perform like it once did.

Final Words

Resetting your MacBook back to its factory settings is a fairly simple task and can be done by almost anyone. Keep in mind that this will remove everything, including all of your personal files from the machine, so be sure to backup anything you want to keep first.

I hope that the information above has given you the steps and information you need to get your MacBook back to factory settings without a macOS disc.

As usual, please let us know if you have any questions or comments. We would love to hear from you!

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