How to Reset Mac without Losing Data

Updated to Home > HowTos > File Recovery Tips on Mac by Robert on Apr 15, 2024 | Approved by Daryl Baxter

Resetting your Mac can be daunting, especially with essential data. If this bothers you, you've come to the right place. This article will help you reset a Mac without losing data. A reset can clear out any clutter or unnecessary files that may be taking up space and causing the Mac to run slower. So, if you're experiencing issues with your Mac, don't be afraid to take the plunge and give it a reset. You may be surprised at the improved performance and efficiency of the device afterward.

Table of contents
Part 1. Why You Need to Reset the Mac/iMac/MacBook Pro/MacBook Air
Part 2. Potential Risks of Resetting Your Mac
Part 4. Troubleshooting During a Mac Reset
Part 5. How to Recover Lost Data after Reset Mac
Part 6. FAQs

Why You Need to Reset the Mac/iMac/MacBook Pro/MacBook Air

There are several reasons why you might need to reset your Mac:

Remember, ensure you've backed up any critical data before resetting, as the reset process will wipe everything from your device.

Potential Risks of Resetting Your Mac

Restoring your Mac to factory settings can be a beneficial process, but it does come with potential risks and considerations:

Although it's a risk, sometimes a factory reset is the only solution to fix complex issues and get your Mac running smoothly again. However, other errors have corresponding solutions, but file loss is irreversible. Therefore, you can try the following methods to reset MacBook Pro without losing data.

How to Reset Mac without Losing Data

Whether due to a technical glitch or just to give your Mac a fresh start, you can use the following methods to reset a MacBook/iMac/Mac without losing data.

Step 1. Using Time Machine Backup Your Data

  1. Prepare an external disk to store your backup and connect it to your Mac.
  2. Click on the "Apple" icon in the menu bar at the top of your screen.
  3. From the drop-down list, select "System Preferences > Time Machine."

  4. Click "Add Backup Disk" or "Select Backup Disk," depending on whether this is your first time setting up Time Machine.

  5. Choose the external hard drive you connected earlier from the list of available disks. If you want to encrypt your backups, check the box that says "Encrypt backups."

  6. Click the clock icon on the top menu and select "Back Up Now." After waiting for the process to complete, you can reset your Mac.

Step 2. Sign out from all accounts (iCloud, iTunes, iMessage, etc.)

Logging out of all accounts before resetting your Mac is crucial for several reasons:

Step 3. Choose a Mode to Reset Your MacBook Pro/Air or other Mac

There are multiple ways to restore your Mac to its original state, and you can choose one based on your situation:

Modes 1. Use Erase All Content and Settings

  1. Select the appropriate method for your system version to open "Erase All Content and Settings."

    For macOS Ventura or later: Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen and navigate to System Settings > General > Transfer or Restore.
    For macOS Monterey: Click the Apple icon in the top menu > System Preferences.
  2. Type your administrator password to confirm the reset of your Mac.
  3. Type the Apple ID to exit the current system.
  4. Confirm again and follow the wizard to complete the setup.

Modes 2. Use Mac's Built-in macOS Recovery

  1. Make sure your Mac can access the Internet.
  2. Select the applicable macOS version according to your processor chip.

    For Apple chips: Choose to click the Apple icon and select Shut Down, then hold down the power button until "Loading Startup Items" appears and click "Continue" to reset Mac without losing data.
    For Intel chips: Press the corresponding key combination immediately after restarting (Option+Command+R: Install the latest macOS version compatible with your computer. Option + Shift + Command + R: Install the original version of macOS. Command + R: Install the current version macOS)
  3. Installation instructions select a volume to continue.

Modes 3. Use the Reinstall macOS Option

  1. Restart your Mac and immediately hold down the "Command + R" keys until the Apple logo appears.
  2. Click "Reinstall macOS" and install the instructions to reset Mac without losing data.

Modes 4. Using Disk Utility’s Erase Option

  1. Repeat step 1 of method 3
  2. Choose "Disk Utility."
  3. Select your Mac’s internal hard drive and set the format to APFS or Mac OS Extended, then click "Erase."

  4. After completing the progress, return to the macOS utility window and select "Reinstall macOS."

Step 4. Restore Backed-up Data

  1. Find "Migration Assistant" in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.
  2. Open it and click "Continue."
  3. Select the "From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk" option.

  4. Choose your Time Machine backup drive from the list of available sources.
  5. Follow the prompts to select the data you want to transfer and start the migration process.

Above are the complete steps we provide you to reset Mac without losing data. If you encounter problems with this process, check out the following troubleshooting.

Troubleshooting During a Mac Reset

During a Mac Studio/Mac Pro/Mac mini/iMac/MacBook Air/MacBook Pro reset without losing data, you might encounter various issues. Here are some troubleshooting tips:

Remember, if the issues persist after trying these troubleshooting tips, it might be best to contact Apple Support for further assistance.

How to Recover Lost Data after Reset Mac

Did you miss essential files when backing up your data or otherwise cause them to be lost when resetting your Mac? Don’t worry; you can also use a professional tool - iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac to get them back for free. Here are the detailed steps:

  1. Download and install the best recovery software for Mac.
  2. After launching it, filter the file types and click "Start."
  3. Select your Mac’s internal hard drive and click "Scan."
  4. Select the target files after the scan and click "Recover."


Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about resetting a Mac without losing data:


As a Mac user, resetting your device can sometimes become necessary, especially when performance issues arise or you want to sell your machine. However, losing essential files may be a concern for you. Fortunately, it's entirely possible to reset Mac without losing your data. You can achieve this with a few simple steps from this article. Whether you're a seasoned Mac user or a newcomer, this guide will walk you through resetting your Mac without sacrificing your essential data. So, grab your device, and let's get started!