How to Reset Your Mac Without Reinstalling OS?

By Connie | Posted to Home > Howto, updated on June 15th, 2021 |

macOS reinstallation is always required in the conventional way to reset a Mac. However, the OS reinstallation can be time-consuming if the Internet speed is slow and the size of the OS installer is too large. Hence, seeking for a way to roll your Mac back to factory defaults without reinstalling OS is impending.

This post concludes 3 easy techniques that can help you reset your Mac without reinstalling macOS, including the new feature on macOS 12 - Erase All Content and Settings.

How to use the Erase All Content and Settings feature to reset a Mac

This new feature of macOS 12 Monterey offers a shortcut for resetting your Mac without reinstalling macOS, bringing great convinience and improving work efficiency.

Here is the explanation of the Erase All Content and Settings feature from Apple:

System Preferences now offers an option to erase all user data and user-installed apps from the system, while maintaining the operating system currently installed. Because storage is always encrypted on Mac systems with Apple silicon or the T2 chip, the system is instantly and securely "erased" by destroying the encryption keys.

Up to now, only the macOS Monterey developer beta version has been released. If you'll upgrade your Mac to macOS 12 when its public version release, you can try this feature to reset your Mac without reinstalling macOS.

  • Open Apple menu > System Preferences.
  • Select System Preferences from the Apple menu bar.
  • Choose Erase All Content and Settings.
  • Choose Erase All Content and Settings
  • Type your admin password and click OK and Continue.
  • Read the warnings and select Erase All Content & Settings.
  • Confirm erase all content and settings on macOS 12
  • Choose a Wi-Fi to activate your Mac after your Mac restarts twice and finally boots into Recovery Assistant.
  • Click the arrow icon on your Mac with the word "Hello" shows up on the screen.

All content and settings on Mac are erased and it shows up Hello on the screen

Next, follow the onscreen instructions to reset your Mac, including selecting a language, country or region, Wi-Fi, etc.

Other ways to reset a Mac without reinstalling macOS

If your Mac is not running macOS 12, there are some other ways to help you skip the OS reinstallation process.

Option 1: Create a new account and delete the old one

This way is suitable for any macOS and easy to operate.

First, create a new admin account:

  • Open Apple menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups (The name may vary by OS X versions).
  • Click the lock at the lower left and type your admin password.
  • Click + above the lock icon.
  • Create a new admin account on Mac
  • Choose "Administrator" in the New Account box.
  • Fill in the other required information in the window and click Create User.

After the new admin account created, use it to delete the old one in User & Groups. At the same time, select the option to remove all user files and settings of the previous admin account. Then, if you shared users, delete the shared users too. And also remember to disable the login items in Users & Groups.

This way doesn't delete all user data, but the remaining data would require someone very knowledgeable to dig it out.

Option 2: Erase Macintosh HD - Data, uninstall apps & empty Trash

Since macOS Catalina, the Mac hard drive has been segregated into Macintosh HD and Macintosh HD - Data. The read-only Macintosh HD volume is used to store system files and apps while macintosh HD - Data volume stores user data that is created when you are using this computer.

Hence, you can erase the Macintosh HD - Data volume to wipe all your personal traits.

  • Open Disk Utility.
  • Select "Macintosh HD - Data" and click the Erase button on the top of the window.
  • Click Erase to confirm the process.

Wait for the Macintosh HD - Data being erased. Then, uninstall apps from your Mac and empty your Trash. Your Mac will be reset successfully.

Related articles:

How to Factory Reset MacBook Pro/Air without Losing Data?

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