How to erase an Intel-based Mac

Erase (format) built-in startup disk of an Intel-based Mac.

These steps do not apply to Mac computers with Apple silicon. The steps to erase a Mac with Apple silicon are different.

Before erasing your Mac

 


Use Disk Utility to erase your Mac

  1. Start up from macOS Recovery: Turn on your Mac, then immediately press and hold these two keys until you see an Apple logo or other image: Command (⌘) and R. 
  2. If asked, select a user you know the password for, then enter their administrator password. 
  3. From the utilities window, select Disk Utility and click Continue.
    macOS Big Sur Recovery options with Disk Utility selected
  4. Select Macintosh HD in the sidebar of Disk Utility. Don't see Macintosh HD?
  5. Click the Erase button in the toolbar, then enter the requested details:
    • Name: Macintosh HD
    • Format: APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled), as recommended by Disk Utility
  6. Click Erase Volume Group. If you don't see this button, click Erase instead.
    Disk Utility - Erase Volume Group
  7. If asked, enter your Apple ID. Forgot your Apple ID?
  8. After the erase is done, select any other internal volumes in the sidebar, then click the delete volume (–) button in the toolbar to delete that volume.
    During this step, disregard any internal volume named Macintosh HD or Macintosh HD - Data, as well as any volumes in the External and Disk Images sections of the sidebar. 
  9. Quit Disk Utility to return to the utilities window.
  10. If you want to start up again from the disk you erased, select Reinstall macOS in the utilities window, then click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions to reinstall 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.


Learn more

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

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