There's a New Way to Factory Reset M1 and M2 Macs. Here's How

Apple updated the process to complete wipe the files and settings from Apple Silicon-based MacBooks and desktop Macs. We tell you how to do it.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
4 min read
Two 2021 iMacs showing the front and the back, with the mouse, keyboard and touchpad accessories that launched with it.

If you've reset a Mac in the past, you're going to have to learn the new method once you switch to Apple Silicon. 


If you've bought a new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro iMac, Mac Studio or Mac Mini within the past couple of years, it almost certainly uses Apple's own processor, either the Apple Silicon M1 or Apple Silicon M2, instead of an Intel chip. In your day-to-day use, you likely won't notice any operational difference, and that's a good thing. However, when it comes time to reset the new Mac, either because you're selling it, handing it down or troubleshooting it, there are completely new steps to completely wipe the M1 and M2-based models. 

More specifically, the steps to access Recovery Mode, the tool you need to use to reset your Mac, have changed. I'll walk you through how to get to Recovery Mode and use all of the options as well as provide a couple of workarounds to problems I've encountered. (Side note: The easiest way to tell if you have an Apple Silicon Mac is to click on the Apple icon on the far left of the menu bar, followed by About This Mac and look at the Chip section.)

Apple's Recovery Mode boot screen with the OS hard drive and Options icons in the middle plus restart and power off at the bottom

The new recovery mode looks similar to previous versions, but you get to it in a different way.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

How to access MacOS Recovery on an Apple Silicon Mac

Click on the Apple Icon and Shut Down your Mac. Once your computer has completely shut down, press and hold the power button. When the Apple logo first appears, you'll see text just below it letting you know to continue pressing it to access startup options. Press it until the text switches to "Loading startup options," which should take about five seconds. Next, click Options > Continue

Select a user with administrator privileges (that's likely to be you, if you originally set up the system) and enter the account password when asked. 

A screenshot of MacOS' Recovery Mode options, which are restore from time machine, disk utility, safari and reinstall MacOS

You have several options in recovery mode to troubleshoot and diagnose your Mac. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

The new recovery tool gives you a few options

After signing into a user account, you'll see a list of Apps available in Recovery.

Restore from Time Machine: Use this option if you want to restore your Mac from a previous Time Machine backup. This is helpful if you've lost a bunch of files, changed settings, or installed an app that's caused severe issues with your Mac. 

Reinstall MacOS Monterey: If you're having issues with MacOS, you can try this option to reinstall the latest version of MacOS without deleting any of your files or losing any data. 

Safari: You can use Apple's browser to search and troubleshoot how to fix your Mac. 

Disk Utility: The tool you'll use to repair, troubleshoot or erase your hard drive.

In the menu bar at the top of the screen you'll also have access to other apps and tools like Terminal, Share Disk and Startup Security Utility. 

A screenshot of MacOS' disk utility displaying the deletion of a partition

Resetting your Mac to a factory-like state shouldn't take too long. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Erase the hard drive, reinstall MacOS

To completely remove all of your information from the hard drive and reinstall MacOS, open Disk Utility and then select the internal disk, which is labeled Macintosh HD. If there's an optiontitled Erase Volume Group, check the box. Otherwise, click Erase and follow the prompts. Leave the volume name and format alone, but for reference, it normally is "Macintosh HD" for the name, and you should use AFPS for the format. 

A few seconds later, the hard drive will be completely wiped, taking with it all of your files, user accounts and apps. 

Once that's done, close Disk Utility and then select Reinstall MacOS from the list of options. You'll be asked to select where you want it installed, which should be Macintosh HD (or whatever name you gave your hard drive if you decided to change it). 

Your Mac will then download the latest version of MacOS, install it, and when it's finished, it'll be as if it was never set up. 

The 2022 MacBook Air, midnight blue, open, on and angled to the right on a wood surface

The M2 MacBook Air

Dan Ackerman/CNET

How to fix the 'No users available for authorization' error

I followed the steps I outlined above -- the steps Apple recommends on its support page -- but ultimately ran into an error message that there wasn't an authorized user available to approve the reinstallation of MacOS. Subsequent to user reports of the same error, Apple has provided instructions to deal with it.

To complete the OS reinstallation, use Disk Utility to select the "Data" drive that's grayed out, and erase it. Once it's erased (again, using AFPS format when promoted), you should be able to install MacOS without issues. 

If you can't create a new user account

I was unable to create a new user account after reinstalling MacOS: The MacBook Pro would freeze when I tried to create the default user account. Basically, this happens because MacOS is looking for account information in a place where it no longer exists. 

If the system isn't freezing, try rebooting into Recovery Mode again, launch Terminal, type "resetpassword" at the command line, choose the Reset Password option, then launch the Recovery Assistant from the menu bar and select Erase Mac or use Disk Utility to delete the Data partition as in the previous note. This comes from an old thread in Apple's forums.

If it is freezing, you need to try accessing it from a second device. You can connect it to another Mac and follow the process described in this StackExchange thread or delete the partition from your iPhone as instructed in this Reddit comment. (Note that I haven't tested the latter, since the former worked for me.)

Once you have your Mac reset, you can return it, sell it to someone or set it up again with a clean slate. Ready to become a MacOS Pro? Here are some tips that will help make you one.