Following in the footsteps of the iPhone and iPad, Apple silicon Macs and Intel Macs with a T2 security chip (2017-2020 models) now have an "Erase All Content and Settings" option available in macOS Monterey. This article explains what the option does and how and when to use it.
Traditionally, wiping a Mac and returning it to factory settings involved manually signing out of a range of services, erasing your Mac's internal drive, then reinstalling macOS. These steps are quite involved, especially when you consider how easy it is to wipe an iPhone or iPad. Doing so is simply a matter of selecting an option in iOS called Erase All Content and Settings (found in Settings -> General -> Transfer or Reset iPhone).
Fortunately, with the release of macOS Monterey, Apple has brought the same option to the Mac. Erase All Content and Settings in macOS offers a very simple and straightforward way to erase your Mac without needing to reinstall the operating system. Thanks to the way storage is encrypted on Macs with Apple silicon or the T2 chip, the option is able to instantly and securely "erase" all user date by destroying the encryption keys.
Not only does this effectively erase all user data and user-installed apps from your Mac without reinstalling macOS, it also signs out your Apple ID, removes your Touch ID fingerprints, purchases, and all Apple Wallet items, and turns off Find My and Activation Lock, making it far easier to restore your Mac to like-new factory settings.
The following steps show you how it's done. Whether you simply want to start fresh with your Mac or are planning to sell or gift your computer to another person, after erasing it using this option, your Mac will display the Setup Assistant and be ready to be set up like new.
- Click the Apple () symbol in the menu bar and select System Preferences....
- When the preferences pane appears, select System Preferences -> Erase All Content and Settings from the menu bar.
- Enter your admin password in the Erase Assistant dialog prompt and click OK.
- If you haven't already backed up your important data, heed the onscreen Time Machine advice. Otherwise, click Continue.
- Note all the settings, data, media, and other items that will be removed. Click Continue if you're sure.
- Click to sign out of your Apple ID, then click Erase All Content & Settings in the prompt to confirm.
After following these steps, allow the erase process to complete. Your Mac may restart more than once during the process. Once finished, you'll see the "hello" message on your Mac's screen, indicating that your Mac has been restored to factory settings and Setup Assistant is ready to start anew.