Reinstall macOS: How to do a clean install on Mac

A clean install on the Mac ensures that the macOS operating system is completely reinstalled on the hard drive. This can be used to fix various problems on the Mac, but also to prepare the Apple computer for transfer or sale. Even if a work computer is to be converted for private use, it can be worth doing a macOS Clean Install. In this guide, I will go into how you can implement the whole thing and whether the procedure on current Macs and on systems from version 11 (Big Sur) still makes sense.

Reinstall macOS: In this guide you can read how to do a clean install on the Mac and in which cases it makes sense at all. Instructions for boot sticks and recovery mode are linked accordingly.
Reinstall macOS: In this guide you can read how to do a clean install on the Mac and in which cases it makes sense at all. Instructions for boot sticks and recovery mode are linked accordingly.

Preliminary consideration: Make a backup of all (important) data

Before you clean the hard drive to start over with a freshly installed macOS, you should either save all or at least the most important files and folders. Because as the name "Clean Install" (clean installation) already implies, the hard disk is cleaned for this. The files already saved, the installed apps, the save files and projects, music, photos, films and everything else will be lost. You can save a backup on an external hard drive, a sufficiently large USB stick and/or in the cloud. So you have your files ready even after reinstalling macOS. A full Time Machine backup also helps restore the system to the known state.

Multiple options for macOS Clean Install on Apple Mac

There are several ways to perform a clean install on Mac. If you are on your Apple Mac, MacBook, iMac, Mac mini or other computer Cupertino want to reinstall macOS, there are e.g. B. these three approaches:

On which Mac models does a clean install still make sense?

The advantages shown above, namely that problems with the system can be solved by reinstalling macOS, are only available with macOS versions up to 10.15 Catalina. Since macOS 11 Big Sur, the operating system has been on its own APFS volume, which is managed encrypted as a Sealed System Volume. The key is on the T2 chip on compatible Intel Macs and in the secure enclave of the M1 chip (or MXNUMX chip) on Apple Silicon Macs. M1 Pro or M1 Max). In short, this means: The system remains unaffected by adjustments, settings, installed apps and the like. Errors are less common and a clean install can be replaced with an easier-to-perform reset.

However, that does not mean that a complete reinstallation of macOS from Big Sur and on the newer Apple computers is obsolete per se. Because it can still happen that macOS gets buggy. The Mac checks the completeness and functionality of the system at startup. If it is determined that something is wrong - for example due to a faulty SSD or faulty system components - then a corresponding error can be displayed or the boot process can be interrupted. That would then be the sign that macOS would have to be reinstalled via Clean Install. Before passing it on or selling it, you only need to clean up the folders and libraries so that user data disappears.

In short: For simple troubleshooting and cleaning of the Mac, a macOS Clean Install only makes sense up to macOS 10.15 or on computers without a T2 chip. Cleanup of newer systems can be achieved with appropriate settings.

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.