8 Steps to Take Before Selling an Old MacBook (for More Money)

It can be tempting to get distracted by the excitement of the latest MacBook Pro (with Touch Bar and SSD), hey who doesn’t?

But…have you ever thought about how to properly deal with your old MacBook?

Whether you’ve decided to resell it on eBay, kindly donate it to a charity, or simply give it away as a gift to a friend or a relative.

There are some additional steps you should take with your old Mac for the sake of data privacy and security, and of course more cash if you decide to sell it.

We’ve outlined all the steps and tips here. But hey, it’s up to you about which one(s) to implement.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Set up your new Mac first

You’ve spent several years working on the old MacBook. You have likely downloaded dozens of cool applications and, more importantly, you are used to all the settings either with the system or the applications.

Setting up your new Mac with your old one handy would eliminate a lot of unnecessary headaches. For example, if you are not sure why the multi-touch trackpad doesn’t work that way you want, just open your old Mac and copy all the settings under System Preferences > Trackpad.

Step 2: Backup and transfer important data

In the digital age, data is irreplaceable. The last thing you want to see, when you are searching for your new MacBook for some documents or photos, only to find that they were stored on (or have possibly been wiped out from) your old Mac.

So go ahead and backup your data — if possible make multiple copies as you sure don’t want to risk losing the only one.

There are several backup options you can choose.

  1. The easiest way is to set up Time Machine — follow this article for a step-by-step guide.
  2. The safest way is to transfer all your files and folders into an external hard drive. Don’t have one? check our our list of the best portable drives here.
  3. You can also backup your data to the cloud, with the help of an online backup service like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc.

Step 3: De-authorize sensitive Apple accounts

If you used iTunes on your old MacBook, take a minute to de-authorize it.

It’s not that the new owner might steal your music, but Apple has device limitations associated with your Apple ID and iTunes — maximum five computers and up to ten devices including iPads and iPhones. Learn how to de-authorize via this official Apple guide.

Meanwhile, if you used other Apple services like iCloud, iMessages, etc., it is recommended that you sign out of those on your old MacBook as well. For example, to sign out iCloud go to “System Preferences”, click “iCloud”, and click the “Sign Out” button on the bottom left corner.

Step 4: Erase hard drive completely

You never know who will get your old MacBook, especially when you donate or sell it. Even trashed files can be recovered, so you probably want to permanently wipe MacBook drive clean — making data beyond recovery.

Some Apple MacBooks come with DVD disks, some not. Some may be equipped with an HDD (Hard Disk Drive), some with a SSD (Solid State Drive). Match your old Macbook’s configuration with the appropriate following solution.

If your MacBook originally came with a DVD disk (with OS X 10.6 or older), follow this guide. Otherwise, read this article. If your MacBook was installed with a SSD (rather than an HDD), refer to this link for how to securely erase a SSD clean.

Step 5: Reinstall macOS

Depending on the way you recycle your old MacBook, you may or may not need to reinstall the system. If you donate or give it away, the new owner who gets the machine would probably expect to use it immediately, thus it’s good etiquette to re-install system.

If you sell your old MacBook, it’s best not to reinstall because the buyer may have a personal preference as to which version to install, or prefer to install himself/herself. It’s best to secure the buyer first before going forward.

Usually, the reinstallation process is included in step 4 (see above) when you finish wiping Mac hard disk. You’ll be instructed to click an option “Reinstall macOS”. Install it following the instructions. If everything goes well, a new fresh copy of macOS can be downloaded and installed on your computer.

When the installation is successful, you’ll be prompted to a screen to enter your Apple ID information. Stop here and that’s it.

Step 6: Clean it up

As a courtesy to the second-hand user, take a few minutes to clean up your MacBook Pro — with a cleaning kit like this (on Amazon). Try your best to remove any dust or dirt until it looks shiny again. Though it only takes a few minutes, this step could help boost resale value if you decide to sell it. Check out our guide on best screen cleaner for MacBook.

Step 7: Don’t forget to take pictures

If you want to sell it, on eBay for example, product photos can make or break the deal. That’s why it’s super important to go through the previous step first, then use your professional digital camera (don’t have one? ask a photographer friend) to shoot several pictures.

Plus, those photos will recall your best memories of your old MacBook — as it’s accompanied and assisted you in many ways.

Step 8: Put it back to the box

If you can find the original Apple package, that’s even better. Put your old MacBook Pro in and seal it. Give the receiver a surprise!

Your feedback

How do you like all the above steps?

Do you find them helpful when you decide to recycle your old MacBook Pro?

You don’t have to follow each of the steps, but check off as many as you can. Anyway, we would love to hear from you.

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