How to Factory Reset

The One Step You Absolutely Need to Take Before Reselling Your Apple Device


March 6, 2020 Tech By Photo by Apple
Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

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: 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: Mac

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. This means factory resetting the computer and re-installing the latest macOS software. Below are the steps to do just that. (Make sure you back up your computer and log out of your accounts, such as iCloud and iMessage, before doing so.)

    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: 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, all 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

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 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

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Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Tucker Bowe

Tucker Bowe has been on Gear Patrol's editorial team since 2014. As a Tech Staff Writer, he tracks everything in the consumer tech space, from headphones to smartphones, wearables to home theater systems. If it lights up or makes noise, he probably covers it.

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