Tips - Reformatting Your Mac


Does your Mac need to be reformatted? Probably not. However, sometimes it’s nice to get a fresh start. This post will ensure that you reformat your hard drive correctly. 

Backup Your Data

The easiest way to do this is to buy a hard drive and back it up using the built-in Apple application Time Machine. This will not only backup all of your files, videos, pictures, and music, but also all of your settings. This is good to have just in case something goes wrong - you won't lose a thing. It is my recommendation that you have two of these backups; you can never be too safe when it comes to irreplaceable data. 

I strongly suggest to use a Cloud backup solution as well. I personally use DropBox to backup basic files, and this will also come in handy when you go to put files back on your computer after you reformat it. 

Next, take screen shots of the location of your apps. This will do two things. First, it will make sure that when you reinstall all of your applications and second, you can remember the order in which you organized your apps. 

Lastly, make sure you have all of your passwords saved. You can do this a couple of ways; I suggest downloading 1Password (a password management app) or using iCloud (Apple's free password management service). Regardless of how you do this, make sure you have all of your passwords and product keys (such as from Microsoft Word) saved somewhere. 

Deauthorize Applications

Some applications are registered to your computer, and when you wipe your hard drive they can't easily be unpaired. Therefore, to save time and frustration, try to deauthorize every app that needs it. Except for iTunes, any app downloaded from the Mac App Store will not need this to be done. This is one reason I am a huge advocate for the Mac App Store. Installing and uninstalling apps all located in a central location, the Mac App Store, is hassle free. 

A few common apps that need to be deauthorized include: iTunes, Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop/Lightroom),Spotify, and Microsoft Office. Check all the applications that you have installed, that are not from the Mac App Store, to see if they need to be deauthorized. 

The Scary Part

This is the hardest part, because once you do this step, you can’t go back. Take a deep breath. Okay, lets begin. 

These steps are taken directly from

  • Before you begin, make sure your Mac is connected to the Internet.

  • Restart your Mac. Immediately hold down the Command (⌘) and R keys after you hear the startup sound to start up in OS X Recovery.

  • When the Recovery window appears, select Disk Utility then click Continue.

  • Select the indented volume name of your startup disk from the left side of the Disk Utility window, then click the Erase tab.

  • If you want to securely erase the drive, click Security Options. Select an erase method, then click OK.

  • From the Format pop-up menu, select Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Type a name for your disk, then click Erase.

  • After the drive is erased, close the Disk Utility window.

  • If you’re not connected to the Internet, choose a network from the Wi-Fi menu.

  • Select the option to Reinstall OS X.

  • Click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions to reinstall OS X.

A Fresh Start

Now your computer Operating System looks likes its brand new out of the box. Only the stock apps are installed and all of your clutter is gone. Now lets start bringing some of your data back in. 

Open the Mac App Sore and go to the Purchased tab located on the top menu bar. Simply click the Install button next to each app. This is a perfect time to remain uncluttered. Maybe you don’t need to reinstall that application you haven't used in seven months. 

After you reinstall your applications, you can download your data (photos, pictures, documents etc.) from your backup or Cloud storage option. Simply copy and paste your data from one of these sources to your Mac. 


After all of your applications and data are back on your computer, the only thing you have left to do is organize. In order to keep your Mac clean, I suggest downloading Mac maintenance apps such as OnyX and Clean my Mac. Remember, computers are like cars, routine maintenance will increase their longevity.





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