Even the best Macs eventually are no longer welcomed into your home. Maybe the device no longer has that new Mac sparkle you crave like the 24-inch iMac above. Maybe it's just old and busted. No matter what the reason, it's time to part ways. Here's how to sell your Mac!
How to prepare your Mac for sale
There's more to selling your old Mac than simply putting it in a box and shipping it away.
Physically clean it
Before you sell your Mac, you have to make sure it's ready to sell. Physically, make sure it's in good-looking and sellable condition. Next, clean the screen and the case, keyboard, and trackpad. Use a microfiber cloth and alcohol-free cleanser.
Back it up!
The next step is to back up your data. If you're migrating to a new Mac, now's a good time to make sure you've got a secure copy of everything you need for the transition, so use Time Machine or clone your Mac's hard drive. That way, you won't lose your data once you sell your Mac.
Sign out of Music
If you leave your Apple ID signed in to a Mac you're selling (or any device for that matter), you're gonna have a bad time. So make sure you're signed out!
- Launch Music from your Dock or the Finder.
- Click Account in the menu bar on the top left of your screen.
- Click Authorizations.
- Click Deauthorize This Computer.
- Enter your Apple ID and password.
- Click Deauthorize.
Sign out of iMessage
Yes, you're going to factory reset your Mac, but you can never be too careful. Sign out of Messages before selling your Mac to someone.
- Launch Messages from your Dock or the Finder.
- Click Messages in the menu bar on the top left of your screen.
- Click Preferences.
- Click iMessage.
- Choose your account on the left.
- Select Sign Out.
- Click Sign Out again in the prompt.
Sign out of your iCloud account
This is a very important step. You need to sign out of your iCloud account.
- Go into System Preferences.
- Click Apple ID.
- Choose Overview on the left side.
- Click Sign Out.
- Select Keep Copy and follow the additional directions.
Factory restore it
Next, you'll need to restore your Mac to factory condition. Depending on its age, it may have come with a boot disk. If you have it, that's a bonus for some buyers, so make sure to keep it safe. You can also boot off that disk, reformat your Mac's hard drive, and reinstall.
If you're running Lion or later, your Mac sports a recovery partition that'll let you restore the operating system.
Sell it to a friend or relative
Check around with friends, relatives, and acquaintances to find out if anyone is interested in buying your old Mac. Use social media, like Twitter and Facebook. You never know when you're going to get a hit.
Someone who knows you is less likely to rip you off and probably won't haggle with you nearly as much as a total stranger. Just go into the transaction with eyes wide open, and make sure you're ready for some post-sales support, especially if they're a new Mac user who's not familiar with how things work.
Also, make sure you're very honest with them about the working condition of your Mac. If there are any peculiarities at all, you're going to want to be upfront about them to avoid hurt feelings and buyer's remorse later.
Trade it for an Apple Gift Card
If you're in the United States, Apple has its own Renew and Recycling program that might interest you. Apple will take back any Mac, PC, iPhone or iPad to be reused or recycled. And if your Mac still has value, you can get an Apple Gift Card with the amount tacked onto it.
The service is coordinated through a company called PowerON. PowerON sends you packaging materials with free shipping too.
You can plug in your Mac's information on the site, and it'll tell you how much you'd get back in the form of a gift card. Like trading a used car in to a dealership, you'll likely get significantly less back than if you were to sell it to someone.
The upside, however, is that it's about as ironclad a deal as you can get online. You're dealing with a third party that Apple_ _ authorizes, and you're getting an Apple gift card that'll knock some money off your next Mac purchase. A bird in the hand, as the saying goes.
Use a local Mac reseller or big-box retailer
Apple retail stores will accept recycling drop-offs, but if there's a friendly neighborhood Apple-authorized third party reseller in your area, it may be worth a call or a drop-in to find out if they deal with used equipment.
Typically, a reseller will only be interested in the Mac if it's still reasonably new and can be resold without too much of a hassle. It would be a bonus if you had the foresight to get AppleCare for it (and it's still active).
Don't always count on walking out with cash in hand. The dealer may want to sell it for you on consignment — they'll broker the sale and get a cut for their effort. You can try to wheel and deal a bit with them to see if they'll sweeten the pot for you by offering you a discount on accessories or services for your next Mac if you purchase it from them. Don't count on a big discount on your next Mac, though — Apple sets the price on those, and resellers can't typically deviate very far without losing money or their right to sell Apple products.
Best Buy, for example, offers a trade-in program for used electronics — many Macs are eligible (mine wasn't). You'll typically be rewarded in the form of a gift card to be used at that retailer (Best Buy is a case in point).
As with most of these corporate programs, there's overhead, and there's the company's profit margin, so the value of your system is likely to be way less than some of the other services mentioned. Still, it's a convenient way to get rid of something you'd rather not have a hassle with.
There are businesses like SellYourMac.com, Gazelle, CashForYourMac.com and others that will buy your used Mac for you and resell it or sell it wholesale to a used computer dealer. I don't think they're a great solution for selling your Mac, simply because they don't offer you very much.
You may ultimately decide your Mac's just not worth selling. Maybe it's broken, or maybe it's just too old and worth too little money. If that's the case, consider listing it on the Freecycle network.
Freecycle's basic mantra is "one man's trash is another man's treasure." Of course, no money exchanges hands, but it's a good way to clear out that shelf of unwanted stuff that other people might like.
Any more ideas on how to sell Mac?
Are you thinking of selling your Mac? Have you sold one recently? How did you do it? Let us know in the comments below!
Updated September 2021: Updated to reflect the most recent Macs.
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Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.