How to Prepare Your Mac for Trading In or Passing Along

Tips • May 22, 2023

mac tradein

Whether you’re trading in your old Mac for a new one through Apple’s Trade-In program or passing it on to someone else, it’s important to prepare it properly. This ensures that your personal data is secure and the device is in good condition.

By following these steps, you can confidently sell or give away your Mac, knowing that you’ve taken the necessary precautions. This article provides a detailed guide on how to prepare your Mac before you part ways with it.

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Backing up your data

The first and most important step in preparing your Mac for trading in or passing along is backing up your data. This will allow you to transfer your important files and settings to a new device, and ensure that you don’t lose any important data. The process of backing up is quite easy, as detailed here.

Here’s a list of steps to back up your data to iCloud on your MacBook:

  1. Connect your MacBook to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen.
  3. Select “System Preferences” from the dropdown menu.
  4. In the System Preferences window, click on “Apple ID.”
  5. Enter your Apple ID and password to log in.
  6. Once logged in, click on “iCloud.”
  7. In the iCloud settings, turn on the toggle switch for each item you want to back up.
  8. If you want to customize backup settings for specific items, click on “Options” next to each item and make your selections.
  9. To manually start a backup, click on “Back Up Now.”
  10. Alternatively, you can wait for iCloud to automatically back up your MacBook.

The default amount of storage provided by iCloud is 5GB; if your data use more than this amount of memory, it won’t be backed up. As a result, you can always upgrade your storage plan by going to System Preferences > “Apple ID” > “iCloud” > “Manage” > “Change Storage Plan” to do so.

Alternative backup methods

#1. External hard drive

An external hard drive is an excellent alternative for backups; these are traditional and go-to options for many users, and they can have storage capacities ranging from several GBs to TBs and even more. USB external hard drives can be connected to your computer via a USB cable and serve as an excellent method of backing up your data. Here’s how to back up your data to an external hard drive, which is an ideal option for long-term data backup.

  1. Connect your external hard drive to your MacBook using an appropriate cable or connection.
  2. Launch “Finder” by clicking on the blue smiley face icon located in the Dock.
  3. In Finder, create a new folder on your external hard drive where you want to store your backup files. You can do this by right-clicking and selecting “New Folder” or by clicking on the “File” menu at the top and choosing “New Folder.”
  4. Give the new folder a descriptive name that will help you identify it as your Time Machine backup folder.
  5. Move on to the top-left corner of the screen and hover your mouse over the Apple menu. Click on “System Preferences” from the dropdown menu that appears.
  6. In the System Preferences window, locate and click on the “Time Machine” icon.
  7. Within the Time Machine settings, click on the “Select Disk” button.
  8. Choose your external hard drive from the list of available disks as the backup disk for Time Machine. If prompted, click on “Use Disk” to confirm your selection.
  9. Once your external hard drive is selected as the backup disk, toggle the Time Machine switch to the “On” position.
  10. To exclude specific items from the backup, click on the “Options” button.
  11. In the Options window, select the items you wish to exclude by checking the corresponding boxes. This may include system files, applications, or specific folders.
  12. After making the necessary exclusions, click on the “Save” button to apply the changes and close the Options window.
  13. To start a manual backup immediately, click on the “Back Up Now” button in the Time Machine settings.
  14. Alternatively, you can wait for Time Machine to automatically back up your MacBook based on the scheduled intervals and changes to your files.

While external hard drives are a practical method for data backup, it must be noted that these are external physical devices that are vulnerable to damage. These devices can break down or fail over time, which will result in the loss of your data. When using such alternatives, it’s wise to use caution.

#2. Cloud storage

You can back up the data on your MacBook using a variety of different cloud storage services than iCloud, including Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and more. There are a number of common cloud services that offer a good amount of storage space. Dropbox offers a free storage space of 2GB, while Google Drive offers a free storage space of 15GB, and Microsoft OneDrive offers 5GB of free storage to all users. Plans can be upgraded at any time if you need them.

Here’s how to use cloud storage to back up your MacBook data:

  1. Firstly, register with a cloud storage service.
  2. Launch the app and log in using your account information.
  3. Then make a new folder to store your backup data in the cloud storage service.
  4. Locate the files you wish to back up by opening “Finder.”
  5. Drag the files into the newly created folder in the cloud storage platform.
  6. Hold off until the data is uploaded to the cloud storage platform.

Sign out of Apple ID

It’s good practice to manually log out of the account once you’ve finished backing up your data to your iCloud account, even though this will also be done once you’ve reset the device to factory settings.

Here is how to log out of your Apple ID:

  1. Open a web browser and go to the Apple ID website.
  2. On the Apple ID website, enter your email address and password associated with your Apple account, then click on the “Sign In” button to log in.
  3. After logging in, you will be redirected to the account management page. Scroll down to the “Devices” section.
  4. In the “Devices” section, locate the Mac computer that you want to restore to factory defaults.
  5. Select the Mac computer by clicking on it. You may need to provide additional authentication, such as entering a verification code sent to your trusted device or answering security questions.
  6. Once you have selected the Mac computer, click on the “Remove from account” option.
  7. A confirmation prompt will appear, asking you to confirm the removal. Review the information to ensure you have selected the correct device.
  8. Click on the “Remove” button to proceed with removing the Mac computer from your Apple account.
  9. The selected Mac computer will be removed from your account, dissociating it from your Apple ID.

Signing out makes sure that your account is removed from the device because your Apple ID is connected to several services and contains sensitive information.  By doing this, you can protect your Apple ID and make sure that the next owner can create their own Apple ID and use a personalized MacBook experience.

Signing out of other accounts

It’s a good idea to unauthorize any linked accounts to your device, including iMessage, iTunes, and others, once you have logged out of your Apple ID.

How to log out of iMessage is as follows:

  1. On your Mac, launch the iMessage application.
  2. Select Preferences from the Messages menu in the top menu bar.
  3. Choose iMessage from the options.
  4. Finally, select Sign Out.

To log out of iTunes, follow these steps:

  1. Launch iTunes. Select Account and Authorizations in the iTunes window.
  2. Click the option to “Deauthorize this Computer” from the drop-down menu.
  3. Your Apple ID login information and password must be entered.
  4. After that, click Deauthorize.

By doing this, you make sure that you are no longer logged into your personal accounts and that the new owner cannot access your private data. Take some time signing out of any services connected to your MacBook, including iCloud, iTunes, the App Store, and others.

Erasing the hard drive and your personal data

After you’ve completed the factory reset instructions for your MacBook, it’s time to completely wipe all of the data on it. This will return your MacBook to its factory default settings.

Here’s how to delete everything from your MacBook’s hard drive:

  1. Restart your MacBook while holding down the Command and R keys until the Apple logo shows to put your computer into recovery mode.
  2. After entering Recovery Mode, choose “Disk Utility” and press “Continue.”
  3. Decide which hard disk you wish to clean up.
  4. In the toolbar at the top of the window, click the “Erase” button.
  5. Close Disk Utility.

You can confidently hand up your MacBook knowing that your personal information has been safely deleted by using these methods to wipe the hard disk. Always remember to perform a backup of your data before deleting a disk because doing so will permanently wipe all of the contents on the drive. You can secure your privacy and protect your important information by taking the time to completely erase the hard disk of your MacBook.

Reinstalling macOS

The final step before passing along your MacBook is to restore MacOS to the latest version.

Here’s how to reinstall MacOS:

  1. Restart your MacBook in recovery mode.
  2. After entering Recovery Mode, click “Continue” and choose “Reinstall macOS” from the main menu.
  3. To continue, click “Agree”.
  4. Wait for the installation to be completed.

After the installation, your Mac will restart with the new update macOS, and the new owner will be able to use it as if it were brand new.

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Cleaning the exterior

This step is optional, but it is usually a good idea to clean your Mac’s exterior, screen, keyboard, mouse, and other components to remove any dust or lint and make it seem as good as new before trading or passing it along.

The exterior of your Mac can be cleaned in the following ways:

  1. Make sure your Mac is unplugged from all power sources and turned off.
  2. Use any microfiber cloth and either water or a cleaning solution.
  3. Cleaning the outside with water or a cleaning solution is as simple as soaking a cloth.
  4. take care not to use too much liquid and avoid letting it seep into gaps or trap moisture.
  5. To remove any excess moisture, dry the surface.

Final steps

Once you’ve completed the steps listed above, it’s a good idea to go back and double-check everything you did, including backing up your data, signing out of accounts, erasing the hard drive, reinstalling MacOS, and, as an optional last step, cleaning the exterior of your Mac. These few easy-to-follow procedures can restore your system to working order so that you may trade it or give it to someone else.

Tips for packaging and shipping the Mac if necessary

It’s important to package your Mac in a way that will protect it from any shipping risks if you intend to ship it.

To make sure your Mac reaches its destination safely, follow these steps:  Pack your Mac in a strong cardboard box with extra cushioning to keep it from moving while being transported.  You can protect your Mac from damage during shipping by using bubble wrap, foam, or any other material. Securely wrap and seal your Mac. Attach all required labels. Consider adding the labels “Fragile” or “Handle with Care” on the package. Finally, you may want to choose a trustworthy delivery partner or courier service provider.

You can make sure that your Mac arrives at its destination securely wrapped by using these suggestions. You’ll feel more at ease and be able to ensure a seamless transfer for both you and the new owner by taking these extra steps.

Remaining thoughts

There are a few steps you must follow in order to get the most out of your Mac while trading it in for a new one or simply passing it along. These steps also ensure that no important data is lost. For a seamless transfer, all of the above-mentioned steps are equally important.

Make sure that you regularly backup your data to iCloud or any other alternate storage option, such as an external hard drive or other cloud storage services.

Make sure to log out of your Apple ID, iTunes, iMessage, and any other required accounts after that. After that, clean out the Mac’s hard disk and reinstall the most recent version of MacOS.

Finally, wipe the outside of your Mac and properly box it for safe travel!

By following these steps, you can guarantee that your data is safe and that your Mac is ready for its future owner.


How do I deactivate licenses and subscriptions on my Mac?

Open the app or service and look for a sign-out or deactivate option to disable licenses and subscriptions. You can log out of iTunes, for example, by choosing Account > Sign Out from the menu bar.

Can I erase my Mac’s hard drive without reinstalling macOS?

Yes, you can use Disk Utility, a feature of macOS, to delete the hard disk on your Mac. To safely remove your data, just choose the hard disk you wish to erase and follow the on-screen instructions.

Why do I need to prepare my Mac for trading in or passing along?

In addition to protecting your personal data, preparing your Mac ensures that the next owner has a smooth transition, and prevents subscription or licensing issues.

Can I trade in my Mac without erasing my data?

To protect your privacy, you should not trade in your Mac without erasing all your data.

Can I reinstall macOS after erasing my hard drive?

It is possible to reinstall macOS using Recovery mode. This gives the next owner a fresh start on their Mac.

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