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How to Factory Reset Mac Mini (2 Methods)

Unless you factory reset your Mac Mini, it will always store your data and files. That is the last thing you want if you plan to sell your Mac Mini or give it away as the recipient could access sensitive information. Apple doesn’t always make it clear how to factory reset a Mac Mini, but it’s easier than you may expect.

To factory reset a Mac Mini, you must turn it off, enter recovery mode, and erase the hard drive. Reinstall the operating system from the utility menu if you want to use it again, or leave it be if you sell it. You can reset a Mac Mini with macOS Monterey if you click “Erase All Content” under System Preferences.  

You must back up any important files and data before you reset your Mac Mini. As this Redditor learned the hard way, you will lose all the data on your Mac Mini if you don’t back it up before you do a factory reset. Follow along as we explore how to factory reset a Mac Mini whether you plan to sell it or simply want a clean slate.

What Should You Do Before You Factory Reset a Mac Mini?

Transfer Data

The last thing you want to do is lose important data when you perform a factory reset on your Mac Mini. This is especially true if use your Mac Mini for work and store sensitive data. Transfer important files and data to an external hard drive or a thumb drive.

Make sure to transfer the data to a new Mac before the factory reset to make sure the data was properly transferred so you don’t lose anything.

Log Out of Your Accounts

You must log out of the accounts you are logged into on your Mac Mini before you reset it. A factory reset will wipe everything from your Mac Mini, but it won’t log you out of any accounts. This can cause problems if you go to log in on another device if the app or service limits how many devices you can log into.

Unpair Devices

If your Mac Mini is paired with Bluetooth devices such as speakers and AirPods, you must unpair them. This will ensure that you can quickly pair your new Mac with the devices without a pause. Click the Bluetooth icon on the Apple menu at the top of the screen to pull up a list of the connected devices.

Go through the list of connected devices and press “X” beside each device to unpair from them.

How Do I Factory Reset My Mac Mini?

Method 1

Turn Your Mac Mini Off

The first step to factory resetting your Mac Mini is to turn it off. You can quickly turn it off if you simply press and hold the power button on the keyboard until the screen goes black. Otherwise, you can click the Apple icon on the menu bar to pull up the menu, scroll down, and select “Shut Down” to turn it off.

Enable Recovery Mode

Next, you must enable recovery mode before you can factory reset your Mac Mini. Press and hold the Command and R keys, then press the power button. This will reboot your Mac Mini and go straight to the utility screen.

Erase the Hard Drive

On the utility menu, select “Disk Utility” on the utility menu and click “Continue” to access your hard drive. Now, you must select “Macintosh HD” then “Erase” and confirm it. This will erase all the apps, files, and data from your Mac Mini. Next, it’s time to reinstall the operating system, or else you won’t be able to do anything on your Mac Mini.

Reinstall the Operating System

After you delete the hard drive, you must close the Disk Utility so you can reinstall macOS on your Mac Mini. This will bring you back to the macOS utility menu. Click “Reinstall macOS” and select continue to install the operating system.

It takes a few moments to install the operating system. Once it is installed, you can either stop there if you plan to sell or get rid of it, or you can set up your Mac Mini. Don’t set up the computer if you plan to sell it because the buyer will need to reset everything, and they won’t be happy.

All you must do to set up your Mac Mini after you perform a factory reset is simply follow the prompts on the screen. You must enter your Apple ID and confirm your time zone and location.

Reset the NVRAM

Whether you set your Mac Mini back up after you reset it or not, you should reset the NVRAM. The NVRAM, or nonvolatile random-access memory stores key information about your Mac Mini. When you reset the NVRAM, it will restore your Mac Mini’s time zone, display, volume, and more to the default settings.

It’s important to reset the NVRAM because it stores some information that isn’t even on the hard drive. If you don’t reset the NVRAM, you cannot guarantee that your Mac Mini will shed all the data when you reset it.

First, you must press the power button to turn off your Mac. Next, hold the Command, Option, P, and R keys. Hold them for 20 seconds and let go to reset the NVRAM. You can tell this worked if the disk utility shows that everything has been restored to standard defaults. The Mac startup sound will also play once it’s reset.

Method 2

Erase All Content

The second method to factory reset your Mac Mini is much quicker and easier. However, you can only use this method if your Mac has macOS Monterey. It doesn’t work with any other operating system from macOS Ventura and onward.

Click the Apple icon on the menu bar, then “System Preferences”, and “Erase All Content and Settings”. A window will appear on the screen to help walk you through the factory reset process. You will be able to see a list of everything that will be removed from your Mac Mini if you proceed.

Back anything up to an external hard drive that you don’t want to lose, then continue. Enter your Apple ID login information to confirm that you want to erase everything on the Mac. Once you confirm this, your Mac Mini will remove everything from the hard drive, reboot, and go back to its factory settings.

So, How Do You Factory Reset a Mac Mini?

If you have macOS Monterey, you can simply open the System Preferences and select “Erase All Content and Settings” to factory reset a Mac Mini. Otherwise, you must reset the NVRAM, enter Recovery Mode, and manually erase the hard drive. You don’t need to reinstall the operating system unless you plan to keep your Mac Mini, but that’s not necessary if you sell it.