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MacBook - Delete All Personal Information

Posted on 2013-01-23
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Last Modified: 2013-02-09
I have to return my MacBook which I have had for three years. How do I make sure all my personal usernames & passwords are no longer saved anywhere ?

Also, any recommendations on other things I should do to make sure all my personal data is removed?  Reinstalling the MAC OS is not an option.
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Question by:deklinm
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by:strung
ID: 38812894
The only sure way is to reformat and zero the drive and then re-install the operating system.
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norcalty earned 500 total points
ID: 38812908
The best way to guarantee that all your personal data is removed is to write-zeros to the drive and then reinstall the OS, which requires the install discs.

Since you don't have that option, you can manually clear it out.

Go into iTunes and de-authorize it on your account if you're using it.

Create a new admin account for the new owner

Then go to System Preference and click Accounts.  Click the lock in the corner and enter your username and password to unlock this screen.  Click the plus button and create a new account and select Administrator from the menu. Name the new account something generic like 'owner'.  You can leave the password blank or set it and just write it down.  

Delete your old account

Now log out of your account and into the new one you created. Now you can go back to the system preferences and accounts and delete your old account.  You can do this by highlighting the account and clicking the minus button.  Do not have it delete your home folder when you do this as it can be easily recovered by the new owner.  We will delete the files after you delete the account.

Delete your home folder securely

A user's home folder is automatically created whenever a new user is created. Home folders reside in the Users folder at the root of the computer's hard drive.  

Rather, go and browse to the home folder and delete it manually.  Then do a Secure empty trash so that it cannot be recovered.

How to secure remove trash

http://m.techrepublic.com/blog/mac/securely-erase-files-in-mac-os-x/1189

Again, it's not the way I would do it as you can leave bits of data around by accident.  Check the hard drive and make sure you don't have documents outside of your home folder.
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Expert Comment

by:Sigurdur Armannsson
ID: 38813566
Buy a new HD of same size and swap the old disk. Format the new disk and install a system on it. That way you keep everything and you can find the disk something else to do.
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