How to Safely Sell Your MacBook or iMac for the Best Price

on March 12 at 11:10 AM

Apple hardware tends to hold its value. Some call it "Apple Tax" or misplaced brand loyalty, others believe Apple's machines have a longer lifespan than those made by their rivals. Whatever the reason, your Mac was expensive when you bought it and you can recoup some of your investment by selling it second-hand.


Here's how to do so safely, while protecting your data and charging the right price.

  1. Backup Your Data - sell a macbook pro

If you're still using your Mac and haven't yet migrated to a new machine, you'll want to back up your data. When you're moving directly to another Mac, the easiest way to do this is using Time Machine. Apple's built-in set-and-forget backup solution creates a record of your important files and documents so you can migrate or restore when the time comes.


Mac Time Machine Backup Now

You should already be backing up your Mac with Time Machine. But just in case you aren't, you'll need to plug in an external hard drive (or use a NAS or Windows share) and launch the utility. You can force Time Machine to back up by clicking the Back Up Now option via your Mac's menu bar (above). This will backup all of your files, including iTunes and Photos library files, whatever is in your Documents folder, and your apps. It won't back up system files, including preferences for some apps you have installed, caches, logs and so on.

You may also want to use another more complete "cloning" backup app, like Carbon Copy or Super Duper. These apps allow you to create a bootable mirror image of your drive which you can then restore.


  1. Format & Reinstall macOS - sell a macbook pro

Once you've got a complete backup, it's time to wipe your drive and reinstall the operating system. This is easy to do via the Mac's recovery partition, though it can take a little while depending on your internet speed:


Restart your Mac and hold the Command + R keys while it boots to enter Recovery mode.

Launch Disk Utility from the macOS Utilities window that appears.

Select your boot partition (it's probably called Macintosh HD) and click Erase.

Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) for the new partition and name it "Macintosh HD" or something similar.

Quit Disk Utility.

Select Reinstall macOS from the macOS Utilities window and follow the prompts.

Command R Shortcut on Mac Keyboard

You've just erased your drive and started the macOS reinstallation process. Your computer will connect to the internet to download the installation files, and this might take a while to complete.


When your Mac finally reboots and displays a Welcome startup screen, hit Command + Q to shut it down. This will leave the OS in an "as new" state for the next owner.


  1. Clean It Up

Cleaning your machine will only affect your asking price if you intend to sell it directly to a buyer, either in person or online. If you're going to take pictures for an online auction or classified listing, clean your machine thoroughly first by wiping it over with a damp cloth.


Cleaning a MacBook

Make sure both the outer shell and inside is clean.

Remove all the gunk from in between the keys, on the trackpad, and in hard to reach corners and vents.

Clean up the power cable and transformer as these tend to get dirty when dragged on the floor.

Clean the display with a damp cloth, getting into the edges of the screen (avoid cleaning products, water is fine).

Clean the ports and the bottom of the machine too.

Don't miss the air vent gap in between the keyboard and the screen.

Cleaning a Mac Desktop

Clean the screen, surround, ports and main unit itself just as you would a MacBook.

Take care to ensure any included Mac accessories are also clean: the mouse or trackpad, keyboard, and power cable.

If you want to get a little more involved, clean out dust by opening your machine up. This will void any warranty you still have left, so be careful.


The idea is to make your Mac look as "new" as possible. You'll attract more buyers and possibly bring in a higher price if it looks the part. Many buyers don't just want a decent second-hand computer, they want the Apple "look" too.


  1. Sell It

You have two avenues for selling your machine. You can either sell it directly to a buyer or you can find a company who will buy it. You're almost certain to get more money by selling directly to a buyer. Whichever you decide to do, head to eBay and perform an advanced search for your machine (e.g. "MacBook Pro Retina 2012") including Completed listings to see what sort of price you can expect.

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