How to Reset Mac to Factory Settings without Losing Data

Updated to macOS Data Recovery Tips by Kisakye on Jan 16, 2022

It is a great choice to restore your Mac to factory settings whether you want it to work properly after some issues come up or you just want to give it away, resell, donate, or for any other scenarios. Reseting to MacBook/MacBook Air/MacBook Pro/iMac/iMac Pro/Mac mini factory settings is the way to solve computer problems as well as the way to keep your privacy.

However, before we reset Mac OS to factory settings, we should think twice before the leap. There are so many precious files or memories kept there which we may have forgotten, family photos, videos, work reports, books, dissertations, presentations files, research reports and more. In this case, let’s learn how to reset Mac to factory settings without losing data.

Quick Navigation
Part 1. How to Reset MacBook/MacBook Air/MacBook Pro/iMac/iMac Pro/Mac mini without Losing Data
Part 2. How to Recover Lost Data on Mac after Reset

Part 1. 2 Steps for How to Reset Mac without Losing Data

Before resetting factory settings. To avoid losing data, the first solution comes to our mind is to back up Mac, right? All Mac OS has the built-in feature to backup Mac. It is Time Machine. To use it, you need to have an external storage solution set up. Here are the steps for how to set up an external hard drive to back up with Time Machine and how to reset Mac without losing data.

Step 1. Backup Your MacBook/MacBook Air/MacBook Pro/iMac/iMac Pro/Mac mini Data

  1. Connect the external hard drive, like USB flash drive, with your Mac. When your Mac detects it, a pop-up will appear, asking you whether to use the drive to back up with Time Machine or not. Please check "Encrypt Backup Disk" and select "Use as Backup Disk" for start to reset Mac settings without losing data.
  2. If there isn’t any window like this after connecting the drive with your Mac, you need to click the Apple logo on the top left side of Mac > System Preferences > click Time Machine. Next, click "Select Backup Disk, Select Disk, or Add or Remove Backup Disk." After then, select a backup disk from the list, then click "Use Disk".

  3. After setting up the external hard drive to back up with Time Machine, then the Time Machine will back up your Mac hourly for the past 24 hours. However, you’d better do the backup manually since you want to reset MacBook/MacBook Air/MacBook Pro/iMac/iMac Pro/Mac mini without losing data instantly. You just need to choose "Back Up Now from the Time Machine menu", then it begins to back up. For the first backup, it may take a long time. It fully depends on the size of files on your Mac.

Step 2. Reset Mac OS to Factory Settings

  1. Please connect your Mac with network. It is a must.
  2. Click the Apple logo on the top left of your Mac and select "Restart", waiting for its startup procedure.
  3. When the Utilities pane open, click Disk Utility.
  4. During the process, before the login screen, hold down the "Command" + "R" keys simultaneously.
  5. After then, you can see the "startup disk" or other related information. It differs for different version or macos. Select the option and click the "Erase" tab.
  6. Head over to the Format option and set it to Mac OS Extended (Journaled), then select Erase again. When it finishes, go to the Disk Utility menu and select "Quick Disk Utility".
  7. Quit the Disk Utility to enable the option "Reinstall MacOS". Select it and confirm the action.

After then, you just need to follow the built-in guide to reset your Mac: connect to internet and download the new Mac OS.

Part 2. How to Recover Lost Data on Mac after Reset

Some people may wonder whether it is possible to get back the important files from Mac if they forget or are unwilling to back up the Mac with Time Machine before resetting it to factory settings. To be honest, it is hard to tell, because nobody knows how much data will be overwritten during the resetting process. Anyway, you can still try iBeesoft Data Recovery to scan the Mac. It is a Mac data recovery software tool which is designed for users to scan for all types of files on Mac and select the important ones to recover deleted files on Mac, formatted drive recovery and lost data recovery on Mac. It is a makeup tool and method for rescuing data you haven’t backed up and deleted intentionally or unintentionally. Here are the simple steps for how to use iBeesoft Data Recovery to restore lost data after resetting Mac to factory settings.

  1. Download and install iBeesoft Data Recovery on your Mac. Then select file types to scan. The supported file types are videos, photos, audio files, archives, documents, emails and more. And then click "Start".
  2. Select the disk on Mac from where you’re going to select files to recover. Next, click "Scan".
  3. Select files you want to get back to Mac and click "Recover".