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How do I restore the 2011 MacBook Air to factory setting??

102234 Views 28 Replies Latest reply: Feb 8, 2013 6:42 PM by roirraW \'edor\' ehT RSS
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blue hurry Level 2 Level 2 (165 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Aug 17, 2011 2:23 PM

I am returning a 2011 MacBook Air running Lion and need to wipe all data and do a full-restore back to factory settings... How do I do that? I've found the Command-R-on-startup option to get to the Mac OS X Utilities screen, but here's where I am not quite sure what to do next...


Since Apple so brilliantly no longer include a USB stick with the OS for the new Air, I can't use Disk Utilities to wipe the hard drive. At least, I haven't found a way yet... Everytime I tried, I get an error message saying that there's only 1 partition and that it can't be erased.


The other option is to just reinstall the OS without first zeroing out the hard drive, which I don't want to do. Besides, if I reinstall the OS, I'd have to create another user-account and such... which isn't the same thing as just resetting it to factory settings.


So... any thoughts on how I can accomplish this task? This seems like it should just be a really simple process, but is so needlessly complicated!

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)

    Boot from the Recovery HD by restarting the computer and after the chime press and hold down the COMMAND and "R" keys until the computer starts from the Recovery HD. Select Disk Utility from the main menu and click on the Continue button.


    2. After DU loads select your hard drive (this is the entry with the mfgr.'s ID and size) from the left side list. Click on the Partition tab in the DU main window.


    3. Under the Volume Scheme heading set the number of partitions from the drop down menu to one. Set the format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.) Click on the Options button, set the partition scheme to GUID then click on the OK button. Click on the Partition button and wait until the process has completed.


    4. Select the volume you just created (this is the sub-entry under the drive entry) from the left side list. Click on the Erase tab in the DU main window.


    5. Set the format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.) Click on the Options button, check the button for Zero Data and click on OK to return to the Erase window.


    6. Click on the Erase button. The format process can take up to several hours depending upon the drive size.


    At this point all your data are securely removed. You can shut down the computer or reinstall Lion from the main menu.

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)

    If you just erase the drive but do not reinstall Lion, then you will return the computer with a blank drive, not as if it were new.


    However, the computer you are returning will only be resold as a refurbed unit, so Apple will install whatever software needs to be installed on it. You are not obliged to do that yourself unless you want to.


    If you follow the drive prep procedure I provided all your data is essentially securely erased. That is what the one pass Zero Data Security option does.

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)

    Sorry, it should read Security button.

  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (221,010 points)

    Yep, you've erased the drive (not securely) so now it's not bootable. Again, boot into the Recovery HD by restarting and after the chime press and hold the COMMAND and "R" keys until it boots from the Recovery HD.


    Follow the previous procedure from Steps 4-6 to simply do a secure erase of the Macintosh HD volume.

  • Pinkshells Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I have had the same option is greyed out. I followed your steps perfectly to the point I went back in by holding down the Option key at start up, connected the wifi, went back into disk utility and followed your steps again, still no security option. Is the security option not available because it's SSD?


    I erased the partition and did a clean install of Lion as I couldn't get a secure erase. Very frustrating.

  • Jacku Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    This is indeed VERY frustrating... We need the USB key!

  • emily92 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Mine has the security options button greyed out too, and I really need to do the zero data erase because I just sold it. How can I do that with the option button not showing up?

  • darrenjfox Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    This is how its done:


    It works on Mac OS X Lion only.


    1. Launch the Terminal application on you Mac. Then run the following sequence of commands (one at a time):

    sudo su
    dscl . -delete /Groups/admin GroupMembership yourAccountNameHere
    dscl . -delete /Users/yourAccountNameHere

    2. Now reboot your Mac into single-user mode by holding Command-S at startup.


    3. Once booted into single-user mode, run the following sequence of commands (one at a time):

    /sbin/fsck -fy
    /sbin/mount -uw /
    rm -R /Users/yourAccountNameHere
    cd /var/db/
    mv .AppleSetupDone .RunLanguageChooserToo
    rm -R /Library/Caches/*
    rm -R /System/Library/Caches/*
    rm -R /var/vm/swapfile*

    Your Mac will reboot to the start of the initial Apple Setup program just like when you first powered it on after purchase. All clean and ready to sell or give to a new user.

  • lbcben Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    Just a simple question


    rm -R /Users/yourAccountNameHere


    How to find out my account name from Macbook air?


  • Damonius Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm having this same issue.  "Security options" button is greyed out.  I need to securily wipe a computer that needs to be returned to my employeer.  Anyone figure anything out?  It is very important that I securily wipe it.  I deal with confidential student information.

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