Resetting a Mac has always been a headache: The only way to do it securely was to format the entire Mac and reinstall the OS. You had to do it every time you sold your Mac or when you encountered a grave issue with the software.
For some, this friction was enough to put off the process indefinitely, but with the macOS Monterey update, the latest Macs with Apple’s authentication chips gain a new clean install feature just like the iPhone and iPad. You can reset your entire Mac, erasing all contents and settings, without touching the OS.
First, check if your Mac is supported
The feature is only available on select Macs. All Macs that are running Apple Silicon (M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max) processors are supported. And for Intel Macs, all the Macs that come with Apple’s T2 security chip are supported (2017 to 2019) models.
That’s the hardware; on the software side, you first need to upgrade to macOS Monterey before you can do it. If you haven’t already, click the Apple icon in the Menu bar, and go to “System Preferences.” Here, choose the “Software Update” option and upgrade to the latest version of macOS Monterey.
When you use the clean install feature, Apple will log you out of your Apple ID and remove all data, including your Touch ID fingerprint. It will also disable Find My and Activation Lock for you, so you don’t need to worry about that.
How to clean install Mac without reinstalling the OS in macOS Monterey
Now that you have updated to macOS Monterey, it’s time to find the clean install feature, which is hidden inside the menu in System Preferences. On your Mac, click the Apple icon in the menu bar, and choose “System Preferences.”
After clicking “System Preferences” from the menu bar, choose the “Erase All Contents and Settings” option from the menu.
Enter your account password and a new Erase Assistant app will open. Choose the account that you want to erase. Click the drop-down to see more details about the cleaning process. Click the “Continue” button. Then, enter your Apple ID password to sign out of your account.
From the popup, click the “Erase All Content & Settings” option to confirm. The action deletion process will start, and you can expect your computer to restart a few times in the process. Once that’s done, your Mac will look for the attached keyboard and mouse. If you’re using a MacBook, you don’t need to worry about that. After that, your Mac will ask you to pick a language.
The last and most important step is activation. For this, just connect to wifi from the setup process. In a second or two, you’ll see the “Your Mac is Activated” prompt. Click “Restart” to finish the process.
Once that’s done, you’ll see the familiar “Hello” screen to set up your Mac, just like it’s brand new. And that’s it. From here, you can choose to set up your Mac as new, or you can restore a backup from Time Machine. If you’re selling your Mac, you don’t need to do anything else.