Is there a way of restoring a MacBook Pro to it's factory settings without a disc? I want all files deleted and it to basically be like I just received it from Apple.

I know you can do it with Dell machines - surely you can with Apple machines?

  • did you loose your disks or are they damaged? Apple exchanges damaged disks. Maybe you can order a new set? – lajuette Jun 28 '10 at 11:17
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    Regarding restoring Dell machines, this is typically because PC vendors put a recovery partition that effectively contains the OS install disc on it. Apple doesn't include this sort of recovery partition on the hard drive and includes discs instead. – fideli Jun 28 '10 at 12:38
  • @fideli is right, Macs don't contain a recovery partition. – Michael Stum Jan 4 '11 at 2:08

You won't be able to get it back to 100% pre-used state without the discs. The best you can do is delete user accounts & home folders and remove any Applications that didn't come with it by default, but chances are you're going to leave behind some traces in your system Library folder at least.

I would:

  1. Backup your data (no-brainer).
  2. Create a new temporary user account with Admin privs & delete all of your old ones including the home folders.
  3. Use an app deleting utility such as TrashMe to catch as many of the app's preferences as you trash them. There won't be many because most are user specific.
  4. Use a system cleaning utility such as OnyX to clean up as many system settings as you can.
  5. Look through the Library folders in folders such as Application Support and Receipts. You might also see application specific folders in /Library. This is where it can get tricky because some depend on others for startup functionality, etc so if you don't delete them all the right way, you might have problems.
  6. There may also be some driver specific kexts added by 3rd party utilities in your Systems folder. Up to you to figure out which ones these are.
  7. When you're satisfied with what you've done, create another generic account with admin privileges, then delete the temporary account. Don't do anything in the generic account other than delete the temp account.

To someone not familiar with OS X, this can be very intimidating. I would suggest going by the Apple store and talking to a Genius to see what your options are. They may sympathize with you and either re-load it for you or give you replacement disks. Tell them yours were damaged.

  • Should I have gotten the Mac-OS discs from Apple when I received my new machine? – TheLearner Jun 28 '10 at 12:20
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    @thelearner: Yes, definitely should have. They are usually gray discs that have Mac OS and a few other applications. – fideli Jun 28 '10 at 12:39
  • Curious that this was down-voted. I don't think any of the info there is inaccurate. Anyway, yes, the discs should have come with the machine. You may have bought it used, in which some cases they don't. People actually throw them away not realizing their value. Hope you can work that out. – churnd Jun 28 '10 at 15:16
  • this makes sense. I also deleted my /Developer and /usr/local plus some /etc stuff I had changed. Thanks for the help. – Matthew Rudy Jun 20 '11 at 4:26

If you have 10.7 or later, you can reinstall OS X from the recovery partition. Hold ⌘R on startup, erase the OS X partition from Disk Utility, and choose Reinstall OS X.

If your Mac supports 10.8, you can download and install 10.8 from App Store first. 10.7 is no longer available. If you don't have the App Store application, upgrade to the latest version of 10.6 first.

The installation discs that came with Macs didn't usually work with other types of Macs, but the ones that were sold separately did. Apple no longer sells installation DVDs or CDs, but you can still get torrents for them, request them from AppleCare or a service provider, or buy them used.


If you live in or near a major US city, your best bet is to make a Genius Bar appointment, and ask them to help. They will very likely be willing to restore your computer.

Assuming you didn't have a newer OS than it shipped with, that'll be the easiest, unless you know someone with the same computer, in which case you could just borrow their disks.

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    Any feedback on the reason for the downvote? No hard feelings or defensiveness here, just want to understand if there's something to incorporate or think about next time. – Jaydles Jun 28 '10 at 15:44

Press and hold button and R together while the computer starts, then just follow the steps, and it will download the OS X from Apple Server...

You will get the Mac-book Pro restored.

Have Fun.

  • You also have to erase the OS X partition from Disk Utility first. If you don't, the Reinstall OS X option does an upgrade install which keeps the old files and settings. – Lri Jun 30 '13 at 10:47
  • Note: this will only work on Mac OS X 10.7 or above. – Dan Loewenherz Jul 4 '15 at 19:27

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