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How to Factory Reset M1 Mac (MacBook Air/Pro, Mac mini, iMac)

Updated on Wednesday, April 17, 2024

iBoysoft author Amanda Wong

Written by

Amanda Wong
Professional tech editor

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Jessica Shee

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How to Reset M1 Mac to Factory Settings

Summary: Here is a comprehensive guide to help you factory reset an M1 Mac, including resetting a bootable M1 Mac and a bricked M1 Mac.

factory reset M1 Mac

Apple silicon Mac improves the performance and efficiency, which brings a smoother and faster operating experience for users when compared with an Intel Mac.

But for some reason, you may want to reset M1 MacBook/iMac/Mac mini:

Generally speaking, to factory reset a Mac contains two parts - erase all contents on the internal startup disk, and then reinstall macOS on the Mac. However, the specific steps for erasing an Apple silicon Mac are different from those for an Intel-based Mac. And it also varies according to the state of your Mac, being bootable or bricked. Let's dive into the details of how to factory reset M1 Mac.

Table of Contents:

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How to Factory Reset Bootable M1 Mac

Apple always commits to bringing Mac users experience improvements with every version of the macOS release. If you have installed the latest macOS Monterey, you can easily reset MacBook Air M1 with the Erase Assistant to factory defaults, a new feature for 2018 and later Macs. For an earlier macOS, move to erase M1 Mac with Disk Utility.

 Note: Back up the important files stored on your Mac before proceeding to erase Mac.

Factory Reset Mac running macOS Monterey

Monterey Erase All Content and Settings

  • 7. Select a Wi-Fi to activate your Mac, then click Restart.
  • 8. After restart, follow the setup assistant to set up your Mac.

The new erase process in macOS Monterey handles everything to fully wipe your MacBook - erase all settings, media, apps, and data for all accounts and volumes on the drive, including iCloud, Apple ID, Touch ID fingerprints, Bluetooth devices, Apple Wallet, and etc., but it remains the currently installed operating system. This feature enables you to reset Mac without reinstalling macOS.

Factory Reset Mac running macOS Big Sur and earlier

  • 1. Turn off FileVault on the MacBook Pro if you have enabled it.
  • 2. Boot Mac in macOS Recovery Mode: restart your MacBook Pro and continue holding the power button until you see Loading startup options appear on the screen. If you can't boot to the regular macOS recovery screen, use Fallback Recovery OS.

M1 recovery mode

  • 3. Select Options, and then click continue.
  • 4. If asked, select a user and enter the administrator password.
  • 5. From the macOS Utilities screen, select Disk Utility and click Continue.
  • 6. From the sidebar of Disk Utility, select and delete the volumes you added to the startup disk - Macintosh HD by default.
  • 7. Select the Macintosh HD then click Erase in the toolbar of Disk Utility.

erase Macintosh HD

  • 8. Specify a name and format (APFS for macOS 10.13 and later, Mac OS Extended for macOS 10.12 and earlier), then click Erase or Erase Volume Group if it appears.
  • 9. After restarting, follow the introductions to choose a language and select a WiFi internet connection to activate the Mac.
  • 10. After your MacBook Pro activates, click Exit to macOS Recovery Utilities.

Then you can proceed to install macOS using one of these methods and finish resetting MacBook Air M1:

  •  Use the Reinstall macOS utility in the macOS Utilities screen to reinstall the version of macOS you used before you erased the Mac.
  •  Use a macOS bootable installer if you have created one before erasing your Mac and boot Mac from USB.
  •  Use the terminal to reinstall macOS if you are a specialist knowing how to do it correctly.

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How to Factory Reset Bricked M1 Mac

Apple Configurator 2, a free macOS utility, is also a good solution to factory reset Mac mini M1 when you want to troubleshoot problems like:

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

To factory reset MacBook Air M1 and other Apple silicon Macs, you'll need:

  • The second healthy Mac with the latest Apple Configurator 2 installed.
  • 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.
  • Keep the internet connection of the second Mac and power source all the way.

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

  • 1. Connect the faulty Mac via the USB-C port with the second Mac using the cable you prepared.
  • 2. Launch Apple Configurator 2 on the second Mac.
  • 3. Boot your Mac into DFU Mode with these special key combinations, which show no screen activity from the problematic Mac.

For 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 a DFU icon appears in Apple Configurator 2 on the second Mac.

For Mac mini: Disconnect the Mac mini from power for 10 seconds, reconnect to power and immediately hold the power key when you see the status indicator light becomes amber.

For iMac: Disconnect the iMac from power, plug the USB-C cable into the Thunderbolt port closest to the stand, reconnect to power and immediately hold the power key for about 3 seconds.

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

Apple Configurator 2

Revive Mac with Apple Configurator 2: It 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.

Restore Mac with Apple Configurator 2: This feature will restore the firmware, erase all data, and reinstall the latest version of macOS recovery and macOS on your internal hard drive.

So, depending on what depth you'd like to reset M1 MacBook Air/Pro/iMac/Mac mini, 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.

To revive a bricked M1 Mac

  • 4. In Apple Configurator 2 from the second Mac, select the M1 Mac that won't turn on after the macOS update failure.
  • 5. Right-click on your Mac device, and choose Advanced > Revive Device, then click Revive.

revive Mac from another Mac

  • 6. Wait for the process to complete.
  • 7. The Apple logo will appear and disappear, and then your Mac will restart normally.
  • 8. Make sure everything is working fine before quitting Apple Configurator 2 and unplugging cables.

To restore a bricked M1 Mac

  • 4. In Apple Configurator 2 from the second Mac, select the first Mac computer.
  • 5. Right-click on the Mac, choose Actions>Restore, and then click Restore.

restore M1 Mac with Apple Configurator 2

  • 6. Wait for the process of factory resetting to complete on your faulty Mac.
  • 7. The Apple icon will show and disappear, and then follow with an auto reboot.

It will take about 20-30 minutes to download macOS Monterey and install it on the 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.

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The Bottom Line

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 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 is reported by some users. Because resetting your Mac cannot resurrect the dying device caused by excessive SSD usage. 

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