Tips and tricks: Here's what you should know if you're looking to buy a used Mac

Mac used and broken

As an Apple fan, of course I can't take it from one blog Parade take part, which revolves around this very topic. Apple iMacs, Mac Minis and MacBooks are great devices, I still have no doubts about that. Nevertheless, you have to admit that Apple products are not always the cheapest devices. If you can't afford a brand new Mac, buying a used iMac or MacBook may be a good alternative. In the following article for the blog parade, I would like to bring you closer to what is important when buying a used Mac and what to consider.

Should I even buy a used Mac?

First of all, it should be said that buying a used Apple computer is definitely a good way to get a Mac at a reasonable price. Apple devices are known for their long life and high immunity to "computer diseases" - I've never had one, for example Virus Scanner never had a problem with malware on your Mac. In addition, iMacs and MacBooks “get old” less quickly than other PCs. Thanks to the solid, high-performance operating system and the high-quality workmanship, a Mac still meets all general requirements even after a few years.

Mac used and broken
Mac bought used and then a black screen? Problematic when buying privately without a guarantee!

A friend of mine can testify to this from very personal experience: When she started her internship in a small advertising agency, she also had her first contact with a Mac at her new workplace. When we met in a café after her first week, she enthusiastically told me that the 7-year-old PowerMac she uses at her workplace feels better and performs better than the just 1-year-old Packard Bell, that she has at home. Who would say that about a 7 year old Windows machine? ;)

Where should you buy used Macs?

Anyone who has decided to buy a used Mac can look for a suitable offer in various places: on eBay, on classifieds portals, in the newspaper or in computer forums. My personal favorites are:

Dealer (commercial used trade)

  • of the Apple refurbished store (refurbished devices WITH guarantee!)
  • MacOnline (also here refurbished Macs and tested used Macs)
  • 2ndMac
  • The Amazon (This is where you can find used Macs from both dealers and private individuals - note seller information)
  • ReBuy (with free return option and guarantee)

Private sales through forums and classifieds

The disadvantage of private purchases, however, is that you never know exactly what the device has already been through, how often it has already been repaired, for example, or whether the previous owner accidentally placed his full drinking glass over the device ...

For this reason, I would strongly advise against buying used equipment without first taking a look locally. At the beginning of the article, I already indicated that Macs generally "age" much more slowly than comparable computers. On the one hand, this is very advantageous for the user, but on the other hand it is also a disadvantage for the used buyer - because Macs have a comparatively low depreciation and so it can well be that you still have a good chunk of money on the table for a 1 year old used one must lay.

Points to look out for when buying a used vehicle

It is all the more important to take a close look at the device before buying it and, ideally, to try it out beforehand. When you have decided on a device and are at the seller, you should definitely check the following things:

  • Signs of use:
    Scratches, dents, etc ... Every device naturally gets such signs of use over time. However, some more than others. And the amount and strength of the signs of use often says a lot about how carefully the device was treated. It is best not to be afraid to ask directly where coarse traces come from or how they were created.
  • Start up and system check:
    Asks the seller to let the device boot up, paying particular attention to suspicious noises from the hard drive and fan. When the Mac has started up, it is also advisable to check the charging cycles of the device in the system settings under "Power Supply". You can also check in the system settings whether the information on RAM, hard drive and operating system match the information provided by the seller.
  • Check drives:
    If the Mac has a drive, bring a DVD to be on the safe side and play it as a test. Of course, this only works if you pick up the Mac yourself. When buying over the Internet and sending it by post, you have certain difficulties.
  • Check accessories:
    Accessories such as chargers should always be original from Apple. Unfortunately, some people like to use cheap copies from China or Taiwan, which on the one hand break faster and on the other hand do not have the necessary charging capacity. If the seller cannot offer you original accessories, this is a good reason to keep the price down, because the original devices are not cheap if you have to buy them later.
  • Remaining guarantee:
    If possible, you should always buy a device that still has a remaining warranty or [Apple-Care-> apple-care]. Incidentally, Apple's warranty processing always uses the serial number. So do not let anyone tell you anything if they say that the guarantee cannot be included.
System Profiler MacBook Pro
The “System Report” item can be found in the Apple menu “About This Mac”. This provides information about all the technical details of the Mac.

When you buy the device, you automatically take over the remaining warranty of the device. If you want to know whether the seller's warranty information is correct, you can do it yourself within minutes: Simply go to under “Support” and select the “Check entitlement to service and support” option and enter the serial number of the Specify device. Or via a link directly to corresponding subpage at Apple.

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35 Responses to “Tips and Tricks: What you should know if you want to buy a used Mac”

  1. Does this also apply to the Ipads?
    I would have found the Ipad 2 here (link removed from the admin). But I am considering whether it is even worth it ...

    1. Hi Michael! What exactly do you mean? If you are looking for an iPad 2, you can look at the features (there are not that many variants) to see what the tablets cost when they are used. Of course, here too the problem is with the warranty, which is limited in time. The advantage of the iPad is that there is no rotating hard drive inside and the power supply unit and the like are not as expensive as on the iMac.
      One tip for finding out the current used prices is the page There you can, for example, enter “iPad 2 16GB black” as a search term and then you will receive a graphic showing the price development on eBay for this product in the last few days. This is determined based on completed sales of the product. The average is around 173 EUR.

      The second option is to take a look at Amazon. Used equipment is also offered there. This one Link to the iPad 2 16GB in black. When it comes to buying used items, I tend to go to Amazon because I don't feel like long bidding orgies. ;-)

  2. For me it was really only about whether the offer was ok, hence the link;)

    On the one hand, I'm not in the mood for bidding or on the other hand, I've already fallen on my nose. Therefore I generally no longer buy technology on ebay. There are now too many pitfalls.

    But thank you for your advice!

    1. Hi Michael! I wrote you something about the offer by email. Doesn't make sense to discuss a time-limited offer in a blog post. :)

    1. Hi Andi! Thanks for the information. Interesting portal. How many visitors do you have per day? Best wishes!

  3. Hi Andi,

    I, previously a Windows user, got hold of a used iMac on ebay.
    It would have been bought by the first owner at the end of 2015 - so there is still a remaining guarantee.
    I've tried checking the serial number on the iMac myself - "Check your service and support entitlement" but it keeps saying "Sorry, we're unable to complete your request at this time. Please try again later."

    Do I have to be suspicious?
    Can I check it elsewhere?

    Thank you and best regards

  4. Hi! I am currently more than disappointed with the "runtime". I've been working with Macs for 20 years and privately own an old MacBook from 2009. It actually still runs flawlessly and already has a high emotional value for me. However, I have not been able to use it properly since 2015 because the operating system can no longer be renewed. After only 6 years? I find that shocking. Now, unfortunately, the new purchase is definitely pending, because everything cheating and sometimes switching to my partner's computer is no longer of any use. What do I do now? Break up with my appl love? I am offered a 2015 Pro model privately. Will that also be obsolete in a few years?
    Thank you for your assessment and explanation in advance.

    1. Hello Nadine! I had exchanged my MacBook Pro for a new one after a good 5 years. But I had had some for over 10 years that didn't receive a software update to the current system, but could be used for writing, emailing, Google and shopping without any problems. If you've ever held a 10-year-old Windows notebook in your hands, you'll be lucky to have a MacBook like it. :D From my point of view there is no alternative... but a laptop from 2009 is of course a bit "old iron" in 2017. Of course, whether you should buy something new or a used one from 2015 depends on what you want to do with it. If you do computationally intensive things like video editing, then a new one would definitely be better. Otherwise you can also take one from 2015. That doesn't have the touch bar yet, which you probably won't need/miss anyway. I can only advise against buying in advance via platforms like eBay. I wanted to buy a MacBook (2 inch) there 12 years ago and must have had 2-3 suppliers who were definitely dubious. After a few days, their profiles were blocked... they offered MacBooks against prepayment that they didn't even have. That's why I tend to trust portals like rebuy or Amazon, if I buy something used.

  5. Thank you very much for your quick reply! I also use the Mac for work and need updated software every year. Do you have a house number for me as to how long I will probably be able to install updates on a 2015 model (since it is being offered to me privately, the model is attractive to me right now)? Do I have more of a 5-year break or will the “sickness of old age” start again in 2 years?
    Thanks again for your assessment!

    1. I think you have more of 5 years of peace ... the Macs are now so fast that you don't have to worry about working with Office, emails and so on. Sure, your computer won't be the fastest in 5 years, but it will be enough for things like that.

  6. Hello Nadine.
    I can understand you very well. I also don't want to be forced to buy new technology ...
    Therefore, Apple should leave it up to each user how long they want to work, live with their part.
    It is certainly not a big deal to update the older devices as well.
    Apple must be careful not to scare off its sensible customers!

    And - by the way - Sir Apfelot - my last laptop, an Acer Travelmate 290, Windows !, lasted 13 years. With our support and care, of course ... you could still screw ... replace ...

    Greetings from TraumWetterchen

    1. Hi Simone! :)
      Your Acer is a nice counterexample. It all depends on what you do, I think. If you don't necessarily need the last system, a laptop can last a long time. But when I do things on the computer that demand the processor, I think it's worth making the switch early. In terms of speed, however, you should always rely on SSD. If the 2015 MacBook Pro doesn't have an SSD or at least a Fusion Drive, then I wouldn't buy it. Once you've sat on a Mac with an SSD, the models with a rotating hard drive feel like they were in ancient times ... ;-)

    1. Hello Marc! Thank you for the praise. To your question: Of course, that depends a lot on what you want to do with the Mac. If you just want to surf the web, do a little e-mail and do office stuff, you can still get a MacBook Pro from 2012 without hesitation. But if you like to do a lot of photo editing or even video editing or 3D rendering, then I would recommend buying a new one, because the new Macs are much faster when there is a lot to calculate. What activities does your everyday life on the Mac consist of?

  7. Hi,

    thanks for the article. I am also of the opinion that Apple devices can (should) be bought second-hand.
    I bought a used MacBook Pro late 2015 model. According to the MediaMarkt purchase receipt, the device was bought by the previous owner on March 21.3.2016, 550 (serial number matches the device). The item description stated that the Macbook was "as new" and had hardly been used, which is why he wants to sell it. Based on this statement and the date of purchase, I decided on the offer in the belief that the charging cycles cannot be very high. Unfortunately I was wrong in my assumption. The device shows 600 charging cycles, which is an awful lot considering it is almost 82 days from the date of purchase. I know many Macs that have been heavily used, are older, and have far fewer charge cycles. Can the high number even be true? CoconutBattery still shows me 84-XNUMX% battery power, but I still have the feeling that I have been betrayed. The seller says he only watched movies and the number is normal. So it's unreasonable. I am considering returning the item. However, I have to admit that the MacBook looks very new and works well otherwise. what do you advise

    1. Hello Basti! Wow... 550 charging cycles in 600 days is really heavy. I don't know if I would exchange it, but I think the statements "as new" and "hardly used" are pretty cheeky in this context. For that reason alone, you should put the thing back in front of the seller's door.

      For the battery itself, however, frequent discharging and charging is not that bad. The lithium-ion batteries actually like it less when they are treated like I do: day in and day out on the charging plug, without a complete discharge. I have already installed the FruitJuice app, which reminds me every now and then that I should discharge the battery to 20% or 40% and then recharge it. You should do this every now and then so that the battery feels comfortable.

      I think in your case, 82-84% battery power is also completely fine after a good 2 years. The only thing that bothers me about this is that the seller lied about it. If you can live with that and the MacBook Pro is otherwise fine with you, then I'd keep it.
      LG! Jens

  8. hey jens,
    Thanks for your quick detailed feedback. With such a high number of cycles and still 83% battery performance, it probably suggests that the previous owner paid attention to charging and discharging. My friend's identical MacBook has 200 fewer cycles and her coconut value is even lower than mine. Hopefully more than 1000 cycles should be possible with further battery care. I decided not to return it, but as you mentioned, there is a bland aftertaste due to the "glossed over" item description. Doesn't matter. I think “my” MacBook is great. I was always a (convinced) Windows child and am amazed at how quickly I can work with the device!


    1. Basti: Then I wish you all the best for working with the new MacBook. As I said: it sure isn't bad! So just forget the negative things and love it! : D I had my last MacBook Pro for over 5 years and it was still good. I only clicked the 2017 touchbar model for the tax. These things really last a long time!

  9. Hallo,

    Thank you for the many helpful tips on apple shopping.

    However, one question has been preoccupying me for a few days and I cannot find a satisfactory answer.

    I know the iCloud lock from iOS devices and therefore know that it is essential to confirm that you have removed the iPhone search before buying a used device.

    To the best of my knowledge, Macs have a similar firmware-level lock that can only be removed by Apple with proof of ownership.

    Unfortunately, I have not found any information on how to check such an (inactive) lock / registration when purchasing.

    There are examples of used Macs, even months after purchase, suddenly being blocked by their previous owners, making it difficult for buyers to provide clear proof of ownership.

    It would therefore be great if you could address this point.

    Thank you very much


    1. Hello Kristian! An interesting note, about which I couldn't find any information so quickly. Just sort of a way to find his Mac if it's lost and lock it if necessary. This is what you refer to as "iCloud lock". Apple has that here described. I'll keep that in mind and see if I can find more. But a note on this: If you sell a used Mac (also applies to iPhone etc), you should also be interested as a seller that this device disappears from the list of your own devices in the iCloud account, otherwise it will still be considered " "trusted" device and if you have two-factor authentication enabled and the new user knows the old user's iCloud login, they can use it to generate a new password and take over the old owner's iCloud account. So if you sell an Apple device, MUST remove it from the list of devices!

  10. Hi Jens,

    I own a few Apple devices: iPad Air 2, iPhone, Apple Watch and iPod and am now considering buying an iMac. I find your site very helpful in the search. But since I'm not that person who knows a lot about computers, I would like to ask you which Mac you would recommend to me.
    I don't do a lot with the computer, print out something every now and then and maybe play a game or two. Surfing and checking emails are more likely to be done on the iPad.

    Best regards,

    1. Hello Bettina! You're already pretty well equipped with Apple devices. Personally, at one point I wouldn't use an iMac but a MacBook. It is best to have one with an SSD hard drive, as this speeds up the Mac enormously. Since you don't like doing wild things with the Mac, the processor power is absolutely sufficient. And if you ever need a larger monitor, you can do it like me: I have an external keyboard, a mouse and an external monitor on my MacBook Pro and in this way a desktop Mac and a laptop. Depending on what I need right now. :)
      You have to look at the price. If I have interpreted the rumor mill correctly, a successor to the MacBook Air should come out in a few weeks, which has not received an update for years. That would probably be the device I would recommend to you. But I don't know your price range either ... otherwise I could give you a recommendation.


  11. I've been a Windows user since I was 10 and now have 17 years of Windows "experience". As is typical for Windows, I had to go through blue screens and new installations, and since I've had an iPhone 2S for about 6 years, I've immersed myself in the Apple world and would now also like to switch to computer technology, or at least MacOS parallel to Windows 10 (because of the games) to use.
    I had thought of a Mac Mini as a good start. Apple denounces it as the "cheapest entry into the Apple world", with the latest model from 2018 being a rather "salty" entry at just under 900 euros. On the other hand, the Mac Mini at the end of 2012 is technically almost on par with the newer models, even after 7 years. Of course, the Intel generation of the processor might be a generation or two behind the latest model, but that's not really noticeable. I was wondering if it's possible to get hold of a late 2012 Mac Mini and upgrade the hard drive and RAM. That would be a, more or less, cheap entry into the Apple world. Definitely cheaper than buying the latest model. Whether it's still worth it today is another question. I would only need the Mac for office work anyway.
    It doesn't always have to be the latest model with the latest technology. But what really fascinates me is that you can still use a Mac Mini 2012, theoretically (with a small upgrade as a performance boost), without any problems. And that's typically Apple. I don’t think there’s any Windows PC. The latest MacOS Mojave is still compatible with the models from the end of 2012 anyway.
    What do you think about it? Would it be worth buying an almost "Apple antique" and upgrading it?
    Thanks in advance for your tips!

    1. Hello Miro!
      Thanks for your thoughts! The current MacMini is certainly a nice device, but it can hardly be expanded. Even the RAM cannot be exchanged. I would no longer recommend the old model from 2012. From this fall at the latest, you won't get any current macOS versions for and I think the features of the MacMini are basically a bit weak.
      My recommendation would be to look for a cheap iMac from 2015/2016/2017 and then plug in 16 GB Ram and an external SSD via USB 3. Then you have a nice, fast work computer and don't have to work with an external monitor. And the device will also benefit from new macOS versions for the next 3-4 years. I hope this helps you decide. LG! Jens

    1. I don't know and it hasn't been recommended to me by anyone I know. For that reason I don't want to show the link here ... I strongly assume that it was classic comment spam anyway.

  12. Hello sir!!!
    I wanted to get a macmini for the property!
    I wanted to use it on the TV via iphone WLAN.
    Only wanted it for the internet in bad weather, no printing, no processing, no text, no Excel etc.
    After researching on ebay I think the price is 300-400€!
    Could you tell me about the optimal parameters of the mini so that everything runs smoothly???
    I now have a 'MiniPC' with Windows (3x12cm), it worked, but it was rather shit!
    The offer is huge, so I'm unsure about assessing the individual parameters for my purposes!
    It would be great if you could give me a tip about the Mini.
    Greetings Klaus

    1. Jen Kleinholz

      Hello Klaus! So your requirements are, so to speak, minimal requirements. Therefore, every Mac Mini should actually do it. The only problem with very old models is that the current browsers sometimes no longer work and then you get a lot of error messages from certain pages because some of them expect current browsers. Unfortunately, I can't tell you which model would be the pain threshold here. I would maybe look for one that still runs the current system. You can use the app for this MacTracker look at. This lets you see what other systems a specific Mac Mini supports. LG, Jens

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