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How to Prepare a MacBook Pro For Sale that was Upgraded to Mavericks

January 13, 2014

I recently upgraded to a newer MacBook Pro1. Since I didn’t need my older one, I sold it to a friend’s family. I wanted them to be able to have as close to a new-out-of-the-box experience as possible, so I wiped the drive and prepared to reinstall OS X Mavericks.

Back when OSes used to ship on CDs or DVDs you could put the disc into the drive and boot right into what is called “Recovery” mode to reinstall things. Since Apple switched over to download only updates, this is no longer the case.

In order to get back into Recovery mode, restart the computer and hold ⌘R while it boots up. From there you can format the drive and reinstall Mavericks, provided you have an Internet connection. If you created a bootable USB drive, that’d work too, without needing to be online.

The catch though is that the new user needs to have an Apple ID that has already “purchased” Mavericks for the install to continue. This’ll be my friend’s first Mac, so they never had the opportunity to buy Mavericks. This is also especially weird because Mavericks is free. There doesn’t appear to be a way to transfer ownership to a separate Apple ID. The solution? Reinstall the original OS the computer came with. Which means this:

Oh, hi, Snow Leopard

Yeah, OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. The funny thing about this is that I cleaned out my closet last week and threw away my original Snow Leopard installation DVD thinking I wouldn’t need it again. So I found a copy somewhere else. Once that finished installing I handed it off and let them go about updating it to Mavericks.

I don’t know how it’ll work in a few years when I decide to sell my newest laptop that came with Mavericks already on it. Moral of the story: it’s just all too rare when semi-complex software “just works”.

1. The 13" retina Pro for those of you keeping score. Holy wow is it fast. And I didn't think the retina screen would be that big of a deal, but it is.

Scott Williams

Written by Scott Williams who lives and works in sunny Phoenix, AZ. Twitter is also a place.