How To Mac

How to Factory Reset iMac

Written by John

While Macs are usually reliable and do not have any major software issues, there are times when you can experience glitches that need some work to resolve. There are many troubleshooting solutions for the most common issues you may face with Mac computers. However, in case you are not able to resolve your specific problem, you can factory reset your Mac and begin with a fresh installation of macOS.

The process to factory reset iMac varies slightly depending on the processor. The steps have remained the same for iMacs with Intel processors, while for iMac M1 with the Apple Silicon chip the steps are a bit different.

Why Do You Need to Factory Reset iMac?

When you begin to notice that your iMac is not performing the way it should be performing and you have made a few changes to resolve the situation and it’s still not working, you can factory reset to give it a fresh start. Or, you may want to sell the device and want to remove all traces of personal information before handing it over to the new customer. By factory resetting your iMac, you will have a device that feels like new, running the operating system that came along with it.

With the new iMac M1 running on macOS Monterey, the factory reset process has been made a lot easier to help developers who factory reset their iMacs regularly to troubleshoot, test software, and solve application errors.

What to Do Before You Factory Reset Your iMac?

While factory resetting gives you a Mac computer that functions as a new device with default configurations, you need to understand that in the process, you’ll lose your personal files, photos, and applications. If you want to restore your personal data, you have to back it up before you perform a factory reset.

Creating a backup will protect your valuable files and you can restore them later on your iMac. You can backup all your files with Time Machine. You can also store photos, documents, and music in iCloud to retrieve after a factory reset. Make sure you have a backup of all your important documents before you proceed ahead.

If you own an iMac with an Intel processor and you need to sell the computer, you need to make sure you sign out of a few applications before you begin the factory reset process. Remember to not skip this part. The following are the applications you need to sign out from:

  1. Sign Out of iCloud
    Click on the Apple menu on the top-left corner, select System Preferences, and click on the Apple ID. Choose the iCloud option from the side panel and Turn Off Find My Mac. Now, click Overview > Sign Out.
  2. Sign Out Of iTunes
    You have to sign out of your iTunes account on your iMac. Select Account > Authorizations > Deauthorize This Computer.
  3. Sign Out Of iMessage
    To sign out of iMessage, open the Messages app, select Messages, and then choose Preferences. Click iMessage > Sign Out.
  4. Unpair Bluetooth Devices
    Click on the Apple menu > System Preferences > Bluetooth. You need to unpair your Bluetooth devices including headphones, keyboards, and other peripherals. Now, you can factory reset your Mac and hand it over to the new owner without worrying about any data leakage.

How to Factory Reset iMac

There are two options when it comes to iMac factory reset. If you have an iMac running macOS Big Sur or an older version, the process is quite elaborate and requires following a series of steps to factory reset the device.

However, if you have the latest iMac M1 running macOS Monterey, the entire factory reset process is made a lot simpler for quickly erasing content and settings.

We’ll take a look at both the factory reset options so that you can choose the one depending on your hardware and software configuration.

Option 1: Factory Reset iMac with Recovery Mode

If you have an iMac running macOS Big Sur or an older macOS version, you have to follow the steps below to factory reset your computer. 

Step 1: You can also click on the Apple icon on the top-left corner of the screen and choose Restart.

Step 2: Boot up into the Recovery mode:
With Intel iMac: hold the Command + R key combination until the Apple logo appears on the screen and then release it and wait for iMac to Recovery mode.
With M1 iMac: hold the "Power" button during the start until the boot selection screen appears. Select "Option" to enter recovery assistant mode.

Boot to Recovery Assistant

Step 3: Select your language and proceed.
Step 4: Choose Disk Utility and click on Continue.

Open Disk Utility in Monterey Install Mode

Step 5: In Disk Utility, click on View > Show all Devices. Choose the iMac drive (Macintosh HD) from the side panel and click on the Erase button on the top toolbar.

format your hard drive

Step 6: A dialog box will pop up asking for the new drive name and format. You can keep the name as Macintosh HD and set the format to APFS. Click Erase to completely wipe the iMac and exit out of the Disk Utility window

Step 8: Connect to the Wi-Fi in the top-right corner of the screen if you haven’t connected already. From the main menu, select Reinstall macOS and click on Continue. Select the hard disk (Macintosh HD) and click on Install.

install macOS Monterey 12 on Mac

The installation process can take some time, so wait for it to finish. During the process, your computer may restart several times. Once the installation is complete, you’ll be able to use your factory reset iMac. 

While the process is extensive, if you do not use iMac M1 and run macOS Monterey, you will still have to follow the steps above to erase disks and reinstall macOS.

Option 2: Factory Reset iMac that runs macOS Monterey

Apple announced its newest operating system, the macOS Monterey at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2021. There are lots of exciting features added that enhance the user experience on the latest operating system. Since advanced features in macOS Monterey have hardware requirements, you need the new iMac M1 to use them.

Apple has added new features such as iCloud+, Universal Control, New Safari Browser, Live Text and Visual Look Up, Shortcuts, and Updates to Mac Apps. There are also added privacy improvements to hide your online activity from trackers and websites that try to create a profile of you from your web activities. A lot of technical improvements make the newest release highly anticipated by Mac users.

Among the list of new features is the Erase All Content and Settings feature. The Mac, similar to iPhone and iPad, is making it easier for users to factory reset with the latest macOS Monterey.

Previously, users had to sign out of various applications and unpair connected Bluetooth devices before erasing the disk and reinstalling macOS. However, macOS Monterey replaces all the extensive steps with a single click and saves a lot of time for users who often reset their devices to troubleshoot and test system and application errors.

The Erase All Content and Settings feature will be available on the macOS Monterey public release version. You can follow the steps below to erase all content and settings when you’re running the latest macOS Monterey.

Step 1: Click on the System Preferences icon in the Dock or go to Apple menu > System Preferences. Click on Erase All Content and Settings.

Click on Erase All Content and Settings

Step 2: You need to enter the administrator username and password credentials in the Erase Assistant dialog box and click on the OK button. Select your user account to erase all content and settings

Select Your Account

Step 3: You’ll see a warning pop-up box that appears notifying all your data, settings, and apps will be erased if you choose to proceed. Click on Erase All Content and Settings to begin the reset process.

Erase all Data Settings and Apps

And, just like that, you have started the factory reset process on your iMac M1 running macOS Monterey.

While your data is being erased, your iMac screen may be dark and your computer may restart more than once. Once the process is completed, you’ll see the “Hello” screen on your iMac.

Now, you have successfully factory reset your iMac M1. macOS Monterey makes the entire process of erasing content and settings easier for you to fix issues without having to go through an exhaustive resetting process.

Apple has made the factory reset really convenient for all iMac M1 users and along with the many other added features that come with the latest macOS Monterey, there is a lot of excitement surrounding the public release. You may probably never want to go back to the old way of signing out of multiple accounts, unpairing connected devices, erasing discs, and reinstalling macOS when you experience the offering of the newest operating system.

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