Use Disk Utility to erase an Intel-based Mac

How to erase (format) the built-in startup disk of an Intel-based Mac.

These steps do not apply to Mac computers with Apple silicon. If you're using a Mac with Apple silicon, follow the steps to erase a Mac with Apple silicon.

Before erasing your Mac

  1. If you want to restore your Mac to factory settings, such as to prepare it for a new owner, learn what to do before you sell, give away, or trade in your Mac.

  2. If the Erase All Content and Settings feature is available on your Mac, use it to erase your Mac instead of the steps in this article.

  3. Make a backup of any files that you want to keep. Erasing your Mac permanently deletes its files.

Start up from macOS Recovery

  1. Press and release the power button to turn on your Mac, then immediately press and hold these two keys on your keyboard: Command (⌘) and R. Keep holding the keys until you see an Apple logo or spinning globe.

  2. You might be asked to select a Wi-Fi network or attach a network cable. To select a Wi-Fi network, use the Wi-Fi menuWi-Fi menu.

  3. If you're asked to select a user you know the password for, select the user. Then click Next and enter their administrator password, which is the password they use to log in to the Mac. Forgot the password?

  4. When you see a utilities window that includes Disk Utility, your Mac has started up from Recovery.

    Utilities window in macOS Recovery

Learn what to do if you can't start up from macOS Recovery

Use Disk Utility to erase your Mac

  1. From the utilities window in Recovery, select Disk Utility, then click Continue.

  2. Select Macintosh HD in the sidebar of the Disk Utility window. Don't see Macintosh HD?

  3. Click the Erase buttonErase button in the toolbar, then enter the requested details:

    • Name: Macintosh HD

    • Format: APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled), as recommended by Disk Utility

  4. Click Erase Volume Group. If this button isn't shown, click Erase instead.

  5. If asked, enter your Apple ID. Forgot your Apple ID?

  6. Optional: If you previously used Disk Utility to add internal volumes other than Macintosh HD, you can erase them individually using the same process.

  7. When done, quit Disk Utility to return to the utilities window in Recovery.

  8. If you want your Mac to start up again from the same disk, select Reinstall macOS in the utilities window, then click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions. Learn more about reinstalling macOS.

If you don’t see Macintosh HD in Disk Utility

Your built-in startup disk should be the first item listed in the Disk Utility sidebar. It's named Macintosh HD, unless you changed its name. If you don't see it there, choose Apple menu  > Shut Down, then unplug all nonessential devices from your Mac and try again.

If your disk still doesn't appear in Disk Utility, or Disk Utility reports that the erase process failed, your Mac might need service. If you need help, please contact Apple Support.

For more information about using Disk Utility, see the Disk Utility User Guide.

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