How to Securely Erase Hard Drive on Your Mac

Are you looking to sell your old Mac or recycle a used hard drive? Even if you delete important files on a regular HDD before giving your machine to its new owner, they might be fully or partially recovered by anyone with intermediate computer skills unless you securely erase them first.

Data privacy is crucial if you want to avoid identity theft, but not many Mac users realize that your machine is not entirely erasing sensitive data when you delete files.

It creates free space that can be used for storing other data. But if this free space doesn’t get overwritten, it’s possible to retrieve the previous data using a professional data recovery tool.

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In this article, we’ll provide you with useful tips on how to wipe your Mac and prepare it for resale. Follow our recommendations to do it right and keep your documents, photos, passwords, and other information safe.

How to Erase Your Mac Free Space

First of all, you need to find out whether you have a hard drive or SSD. Why? Apple claims that there is no need to erase free space on an SSD because it’s difficult to get data back after a standard erase.

You can find out which type of storage media you have in your system if you click on the Apple menu and choose About This Mac. Then you need to choose System Report and after that, select Storage. Pick the drive from the list to discover whether it’s an SSD or HDD.

What to Do to Protect Important Files

Create a backup to protect your most critical documents and files that you want to keep before start erasing a disk. If you decide to store them on an external storage media, you need to plug it in and create a Time Machine backup.

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You should also sign out of iCloud. You can do it if you open the Apple menu, then choose System Preferences and click the Apple ID. Then you need to choose iCloud from the side panel. After that you should click on Overview and then Sign Out.

If you use iMessage, you should sign out from there as well. Just launch the Messages app and select Messages and then Preferences from the menu bar. Press iMessage and after that, Sign Out.

Use Disk Utility to Erase Your Drive

Finally, you can erase your hard drive. That will protect your standard erased data form being recovered. Follow these steps that apply to older Macs with hard disk drives. If your machine comes with solid-state drive, the Disk Utility tool won’t actually let you zero it.

  • Turn on your machine and quickly press down the Command key and R.
  • Choose your language, enter password if required, and you’ll the macOS Utilities screen.
  • Choose Disk Utility from the list and then click on View in the top menu.
  • Select your startup disk from the side bar.
  • Select a name for your disk and choose GUID Partition Map. Then press Erase and Done to quit Disk Utility.

You will need to wait some time and then your drive will be clean and ready for a new adventure.

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If you don’t want to erase the main hard drive of your Mac, you need to choose the Finder icon from the Dock on your Mac. After select Applications.

Finally, you can scroll down to Utilities and after that choose Disk Utility. You can now follow the same steps as we have covered above from point 3.

These are all the necessary steps. Now you can relax, feeling confident that a new owner of your Mac machine may get into your files or apps.

And if you just want to free some space by removing junk files, you can do this using the Optimized Storage feature.

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