How to hard reset a MacBook, Windows Laptop or Chromebook

Hard-resetting your MacBook, Windows laptop, or Chromebook is an absolutely necessary step before giving the machine away. Here’s how.

A reset it full can help a worn-out laptop run a little faster, but it’s absolutely essential to do this before you give the device away, resell it, or otherwise. Erasing all programs, files, folders and personal data is not as simple as erasing the machine itself.

The general principle is always the same: back up important data, delete your personal data and do a factory reset. Actually, the procedure differs depending on the type of machine.

Let’s start from the end

You may want to start by physically cleaning the machine. All you need is a can of compressed air and some disinfectant wipes. You may also want to open up the chassis to clean out any dust that has built up in the fans and other recesses, if you want to go that far.

After cleaning the machine, you can also clean the charger and its various accessories. Also make sure the charger is in good condition.

Reset your MacBook

Before you even consider performing a hard reset, you should back up your important data. Chances are you do this every day, great, but if not, it might be time to plug in a hard drive and back up with Time Machine. If you have an iCloud account, you can back up your data there.

Disconnect from anywhere

Disconnect all your accounts before erasing your MacBook’s hard drive. iCloud, Find My, iMessage and any individual app accounts you may have. If you’re using a browser other than Safari, such as Chrome or Firefox, exit here as well. Log out wherever you logged in.

Two other things to do before you start the reset: disconnect the Bluetooth accessories and reset the NVRAM—the memory that contains the settings your MacBook needs before loading macOS. To do this, press and hold Option-Command-PR at startup.

Perform a reset on your Mac

If you’ve completed the previous steps, you’re ready to delete everything. On an Intel Mac, restart the machine and press Command-R to enter Recovery Mode. It’s different on a MacBook with an M1 or M2 chip.

Once in recovery mode, you will see a window with macOS utilities. Use Disk Utility to erase the drive. Once done, you can reinstall macOS. Then you will come to the wizard. There you can turn off the machine and give it to whom or install it for that person.

reset windows laptop

Start by backing up important files. If you need an external drive, go to Settings > Update & Security > Backup > Add a drive and select an external drive. Then click Backup Now.

Exit all your programs

Many paid apps require you to sign in with an account, product key, or something else. Before erasing your drive, disconnect as many such programs and accounts as possible. If you need product keys to re-register on a new machine, make sure you have them. If you’re using a browser other than Edge, such as Chrome or Firefox, sign out.

Perform a reset on Windows

Settings > System > Restore. Above you will see this computer reset. Click Start and select Erase Everything. There you can choose to reinstall Windows from a local drive or download from the cloud. Windows will then erase the entire drive. The machine will restart and the wizard will appear. You can turn off the machine and give it to someone else or set it up for whoever it is.

Disconnect your Microsoft account

If you used a Microsoft account to sign in to the machine, remove it from the machine. Log in to your account from another computer and click the Devices tab at the top of the page. Find the machine you want to donate and at the bottom of the list you will see the option to remove this device.

Reset the Chromebook

Chromebooks are the easiest machines to gift. Because they are built for the cloud. Google also makes it very easy to delete data and delete a Google account.

Check AUE first

Before handing in the machine, check the expiry date for automatic updates. Google does not guarantee Chrome OS and Chrome updates for very long. Each device has an expiration date, AUE date for automatic updates. Current models are issued for eight years. For some, it’s only a year or two.

Google maintains an official list. Find your device and you’ll have your date. Otherwise, you can find it in the Chromebook settings (About ChromeOS after Further details)

Perform a hard reset on your Chromebook

Powerwash is a built-in tool for resetting a Chromebook. After backing up your important files, run Powerwash to wipe the entire system and reboot. When the machine restarts, it is as good as new.

The Powerwash process takes less than a minute. Search for “powerwash” in your machine settings.

Remove your Chromebook from your Google Account

Although you deleted your account on the Chromebook, you did not delete the Chromebook from your account. Sign in to your Google account and go to Security settings. If you’re using the Chrome browser, click your account avatar and select Manage your Google Account from the drop-down menu.

In the Security section, go to Your Devices. At the bottom of this box, click Manage Devices and locate the Chromebook in question. Then select Disconnect. You can then gift the Chromebook to anyone you want.

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