If you’re looking to sell or trade-in your old iPhone or MacBook, you’ll want to wipe your personal data from the device. The easiest way to do that is a factory reset.
Of course that is not the only reason you use your gadgets’ self-wiping features. You could be looking to free up some precious iCloud space. Or maybe your AirPods or Apple Watch just aren’t working properly and you’re thinking a starting on fresh slate could be the solution.
Whatever it is, knowing how to factory reset your Apple device is pretty important. And you should factory reset any Apple product before you sell it or trade it in — especially if it’s an old iPhone, iPad or Mac. Here’s what you need to know.
How to Factory Reset a Mac or MacBook (macOS Monterey)
When you’re looking to sell or trade-in your computer, whether it’s an iMac or a MacBook, it’s a good idea to return it to its factory settings. Factory resetting a Mac has been historically difficult but thanks to macOS Monterey — which Apple rolled out in October 2021 — it's now a lot easier.
To benefit from the changes, you have to have a newer Mac that either has one of Apple's silicon chipsets (M1, M1 Pro or M1 Max) or is a newer Intel-based Mac (2017 or newer) that comes with Apple's T2 security chip. And second, your Mac has to be running the latest macOS Monterey. If your Mac checks both those boxes, here's what to do:
(Pro tip: Make sure you backup your computer and log out of your accounts, such as iCloud and iMessage, before factory resetting your Mac.)
- Click the Apple icon in the menu bar (top-left corner).
- Select System Preferences from the drop-down menu.
- Select 'Erase All Contents and Settings.'
- Enter your password, select 'OK.'
- Select the 'Erase All Content & Settings' button.
From here, your Mac will go black and restart (likely several times). Let this process happen — don't try to turn off, unplug or interact with the computer in any way — and when it's done you'll see the familiar "Hello" screen.
How to Factory Reset Mac or MacBook (pre-macOS Monterery)
If you have an older Intel-based Mac or want to reset without upgrading to Monterey first, the process of factory resetting your computer is going to be a little more tedious. You're going to have to factory reset the Mac and then re-install the latest macOS software. Below are the steps to do just that.
(Again, it's wise to backup your computer and log out of your accounts, such as iCloud and iMessage, before factory resetting your Mac.)
- 1. Restart your computer: hold the power button > select Restart when it appears
2. While the computer restarts, hold down the ‘Command‘ and ‘R‘ keys
3. Once you see the Apple logo appear, release the ‘Command and R keys’
4. When you see a Recovery Mode menu, select Disk Utility
5. Make sure the ‘Macintosh HD’ startup disk is highlighted in your Disk Utility window > select Erase
6. A pop-up window should appear. Change the Format to macOS Extended (Journaled) > select Erase again
7. Select Quit Disk Utility in the Disk Utilities menu.
8. A window will then appear giving you the option to reinstall macOS > select Install macOS
9. After the new macOS is installed, your computer has been successfully factory reset
How to Factory Reset an iPhone or iPad
If you have any reservations about factory resetting your iPhone or iPad, make sure that you back-up your data beforehand. There are two ways to do this. On your iPhone or iPad, you can go to Settings > iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back Up Now. Or on your Mac, you can connect your iPhone or iPad (via a charging cable), go into iTunes and select the option to back up your device. If you’ve done that or just don’t need to backup your device, it’s pretty simple to return your iPhone or iPad to its factory settings.
- 1. Go to Settings > General > Reset
2. Select ‘Erase all content and settings‘ and enter your password
3. Select ‘Erase iPhone‘ (or iPad) and type your Apple ID password
4. Your iPhone or iPad will factory reset and restart
How to Factory Reset an Apple Watch
Before upgrading from one Apple Watch to another, you’re going to want to erase all your personal data from old Apple Watch. To do this, you’re going to want to factory reset it.
- 1. Unpair Apple Watch by opening the Apple Watch app on your iPhone or iPad
2. Select the My Watch tab > select “i” next to your watch > select Unpair Apple Watch
3. On your Apple Watch, go to the Settings app
4. Select General > Reset > ‘Erase All Content and Settings‘
5. Select Erase All
How to Factory Reset AirPods and AirPods Pro
With AirPods, whether they’re standard AirPods or the newer AirPods Pro, you’re going to want to factory reset them if they for some reason stop working properly. Maybe you have some connectivity troubles or one earbud just isn’t charging properly — a factory reset could be the solution.
- 1. Open Bluetooth settings and forget your AirPods or AirPods Pro from your device.
2. Make sure both AirPods are in their case. Open the lid so you can see the indicator light.
3. Hold the button on the back of the case until the light starts flashing amber.
4. Wait until the amber light flashes three times, then release the button and close the lid.
5. Place your AirPods adjacent to your iPhone and hold the button on the back of the case again. A pairing screen should appear on your iPhone and select Connect
How to Factory Reset AirTags
If you find somebody else's AirTag, you can't just steal it, whip its memory and then use it as your own. That's because Apple baked each AirTag with security features that prevent exactly that. Each AirTag can only be associated with one person's Apple ID — which, unfortunately, is why you can't share AirTags with family members — and only that person can factory reset.
If you have an AirTag and you want to give it to a friend or sell it to somebody, you'll need to factory reset it. This is a pretty easy thing to do if your AirTag is right next to you within Bluetooth range. If so, all you have to do is remove it from your Apple ID.
1. Open the Find My app.
2. Select the AirTag.
3. Scroll down and select Remove Item.
4. Select the Remove button.
If somebody finds your AirTag and you don't want it back, they can factory reset it themselves and use it as their own — but only after you remove it from your Apple ID (following the above steps). After you've removed it from your Apple ID, the person will still need to perform the below factory resetting process because the AirTag isn't in Bluetooth range of its previous owner.
- 1. Remove the AirTags's battery cover (press down and rotate clockwise).
2. Remove the battery.
3. Put the battery back in the AirTag and press down on it until it makes a sound.
4. When the sound finishes, repeat the process four more times, removing and replacing the battery each time.
5. The battery should make a total of five sounds.
6. Put the battery cover securely back on the AirTag.
How to Factory Reset AirPods Max
If you want to factory reset a pair of AirPods Max, it's very simple and way less complicated than factory resetting a pair of AirPods or AirPods Pro.
1. Open Bluetooth settings and forget your AirPods Max from your device.
2. Press and hold the noise control button and the Digital Crown for 15 seconds, or until the LED flashes amber and then white.
3. After the LED flashes amber and white, release the button.
How to Factory Reset an Apple TV
Your Apple TV might just seem like a box that sits on your TV stand, but it's connected to your Apple account and is plugged into your data. Whether you're having trouble getting it to work correctly, or preparing to sell or recycle it, you should perform a factory reset.
- 1. Turn your Apple TV on.
2. Go to Settings > System > Reset or System > General > Reset on 3rd gen and previous devices.
3. Select "Reset" if you just want to erase your data, and "Reset and Update" if you want to bring your Apple TV's software up to date after you wipe it.
4. Leave your Apple TV on and connected to the internet until the process is finished.
How to Factory Reset an Apple HomePod
It's the same process to factory reset a HomePod and a HomePod mini, and it can be done in two different ways: from your iPhone (or iPad) or from directly on the smart speaker itself.
To reset your HomePod or HomePod mini using the Home app, you simply have to remove it as an accessory. To do this:
- 1. Open the Home app on your iPhone
2. Find the HomePod or HomePod mini under Favorite Accessories
3. Press and hold on the HomePod tab.
4. Scroll down and select Remove Accessory at the bottom.
5. Select Remove
You can also factory reset your HomePod or HomePod mini without the Home app. You just need to go to the smart speaker and follow these instructions:
- 1. Unplug HomePod or HomePod mini
2. Wait 10 seconds and then plug it back in
3. Wait another five seconds, then press and hold the top of HomePod
4. Keep holding. The white spinning light will turn red.
5. Keep holding. Siri will then tell you the HomePod will reset
6. After you hear three beeps, you can stop pressing the top of the HomePod