How to Reset an M1 MacBook Air, M1 MacBook Pro, and M1 Mac Mini?

By Vivian | Posted to Home > Howto on March 5th, 2021 |

For some reason, you may want to reset your new M1 Mac computer.

  1. You simply want a fresh restart with the M1 Mac
  2. You are experiencing an unpleasant performance with the current version of macOS Big Sur.
  3. You need to replace or exchange the M1 Mac with Apple
  4. You want to sell or give it away
  5. Your M1 Mac won't turn on

No matter what is the reason you want to reset the M1 Mac to factory settings, there is one thing you need to pay attention to. You are not recommended to directly erase the startup disk in Disk Utility though you can do it most of the time and reinstall macOS as you did on the Intel-based Mac.

Reset M1 Mac

The old way to reset the Mac will bring the message "An error occurred while preparing the update. Failed to personalize the software update. Please try again."

What's worse, You're unable to reinstall macOS from macOS Recovery and your new M1 Mac will be bricked due to a direct disk erasure.

How to Reinstall macOS Big Sur on an M1 Mac

Then, what is the right way to reset a Mac with Apple Silicon M1 chip?

Based on if the Mac is bootable and if you want to keep the data on the computer, here is the complete tutorial.

Warning: Resetting the Mac probably involves erasing the startup disk. So, back up your Mac before following the procedure.

Guide to reset a bootable M1 Mac to factory settings

Since your File Vault is on and you can't erase the startup disk directly with Disk Utility on the M1 Mac, you need another way to get your Mac prepared, i.e., get existing data cleared.

  • 1. Restart your Mac and continue holding the power button until you see the startup options window.
  • 2. Select Options and then continue with the required administrator password.
  • Reset M1 Mac in recovery mode1
  • 3. When you see a list of recovery utilities, click Utilities from the top menu and select Terminal from the drop-down menu.
  • Reset M1 Mac in recovery mode2
  • 4. Type resetpassword in Terminal, then press Return.
  • 5. Click the Reset Password window, choose Recovery Assistant, and then click Erase Mac.
  • Reset Password of M1 Mac
  • 6. Click Erase to confirm your operation and then your M1 Mac will restart automatically.
  • 7. After setting the language and click macOS Utilities if it reminds you that the version of macOS on the selected disk needs to be reinstalled.
  • 8. Make sure the M1 Mac has internet connected during the Mac is activating.
  • 9. Click Exit to Recovery Utilities when it's completed.
  • 10. Repeat the operation from step 3 to step 9 one more time.

Then you are safe to go with macOS reinstallation using one of these methods.

  • Use the Reinstall macOS Big Sur utility in macOS Recovery Mode if your Mac was running macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 before you erased the Mac.
  • Use a macOS Big Sur bootable installer in macOS Recovery Mode if you have created one before erasing your Mac.
  • Use terminal if you are a specialist knowing how to do it correctly.

Note: You can also use Apple Configurator 2 to reset the M1 Mac if the way above is not working.

Guide to Factory Reset a Bricked M1 Mac

Sometimes, factory resetting is a good solution to fix causes that stop your M1 Mac from booting up as well.

Exactly, you can reset your Mac with an Apple software called Configurator 2 when:

  • 1. The Mac becomes unresponsive due to a power failure during a macOS upgrade
  • 2. You can’t start the Mac from the startup volume or from the recovery macOS volume

To reset your Mac mini (M1, 2020), MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020), and MacBook Air (M1, 2020), prepare the following things first:

  1. The second Mac (runs macOS Catalina or later, has latest Apple Configurator 2 installed, and has network connection)
  2. A USB-C to USB-C cable for newer Macs or USB-A to USB-C cable for older ones, which supports power and data.

If you have all the requirements ready for machine resetting, let's get into the steps:

Note: Keep the second Mac connected to the network and power source all the way.

  • 1. Connect the M1 Mac via the USB-C port with the second Mac using the cable you prepared.
  • Reset M1 Mac with Apple Configurator 2
  • 2. Launch Apple Configurator 2 on the second Mac.
  • 3. Boot your M1 Mac into DFU mode with these special key combinations, which shows no screen activity on the M1 Mac.
  1. For M1 Mac mini: Disconnect the Mac mini from power for 10 seconds, reconnect to power and immediately hold the power button when you see the status indicator light becomes amber.
  2. For M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro: Press and hold the power button, then simultaneously hold Control + Option + Shift for 10 seconds. And then keep holding the power button until the notebook appears in Apple Configurator 2.

Apple Configurator 2 allows you to both revive or restore an M1 Mac.

Apple Configurator 2

A revive will update the firmware and recovery macOS to the latest version, which won't make any changes to the startup volume, the user’s data volume, or any other volumes.

However, the restore feature will restore the firmware, erase all data, and reinstall the latest version of recovery macOS and macOS on your internal hard drive.

So, depending on what depth you'd like to reset your M1 Mac, either keep or erase the previous data, you can continue with different guides in Apple Configurator 2.

Note: If you lose power to either Mac during this process, you need to do the revive or restore operations once again.

How to reset a crashed M1 Mac (revive it without data loss)?

  • 1. In Apple Configurator 2 from the second Mac, select the M1 Mac that won't turn on after the macOS update failure.
  • 2. Right-click on your M1 Mac device, and choose Advanced > Revive Device, then click Revive.
  • Revive M1 Mac
  • 3. Wait for the process to complete.
  • 4. The Apple logo will appear and disappear, and then your M1 Mac will restart normally.
  • 5. Make sure everything is working fine before quit Apple Configurator 2 and unplug cables.

How to reset a crashed bricked M1 Mac (restore it to erase all data)?

  • 1. In Apple Configurator 2 from the second Mac, select the M1 Mac computer.
  • 2. Right-click on the M1 Mac, choose Actions>Restore, and then click Restore.
  • 3. Wait for the process of factory resetting to complete on your M1 Mac.
  • 4. The Apple icon will show and disappear, and then follow with an auto reboot.

It will take about 20-30 minutes to download macOS Big Sur and install it on the M1 Mac. When it finishes, you'll see the factory setup screen. And then you can quit Apple Configurator 2 and unplug any adapters and cables.

Factory resetting is the easiest way to start afresh on your M1 Mac. It helps when you can’t start this Mac for startup disk corruption, firmware issues, or failed macOS update. It's also the most efficient way to erase personal data before you decide to donate or exchange your M1 Mac.

But you need to keep in your mind that backing up your data before resetting the Mac in case you want it back someday. Besides, try to prevent excessive SSD wear of your M1 Mac that reported by some users. Because resetting your M1 Mac cannot resurrect the dying M1 Mac caused by excessive SSD usage.