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I'm returning a Macbook Air I purchased last week at an Apple Store (not because I don't like it, I just need a bit more screen real estate) and I want to make sure I put it in an acceptable state. I'd like to remove all the data that I've put on it in the last week but I don't want to go overboard.

Should I format the drive and return it with no OS? Format and reinstall the OS? Leave it as-is and trust Apple refurb to not look at my data?

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You can return something just because it isn't exactly what you wanted??!! – Samantha Catania Dec 2 '11 at 18:18
Yes, Apple gives you 14 days to return something just because you changed your mind. It has to be in like-new condition with all parts and box, etc. – Richard Dec 3 '11 at 5:14
@Richard More than 14 days during the holidays. – Nick Dec 4 '11 at 18:53
up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you're pressed for time, and since you mentioned the Macbook Air was new and purchased last week, it probably was installed with OS X Lion which has full-disk encryption. If this assumption is true, then

  1. Back up your data. I'd recommend using Time Machine (so you don't have to re-setup your user id, install apps, etc).
  2. create another "throwaway" admin id, and log in to your "throwaway" admin id
  3. and delete yourself from the Mac using System Preferences -> Users & Groups preference pane.
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New MacBook Airs don't come with an installation thumb drive. – Daniel Dec 2 '11 at 16:27
Thanks Daniel for the heads-up, I've removed the erroneous info and updated my answer. – Global nomad Dec 2 '11 at 16:29
Nomad has it, this is what Apple will tell you to do. No need to format HD, just back up your stuff, make a new user account (Apple had me call it "admin" with password "admin"), log into said account, delete yours. Put a posit note on the box telling Apple the account name and password and you're set. – Richard Dec 3 '11 at 5:23
I used this method. The Apple Store folks had no problem with it. – Nick Dec 10 '11 at 0:16

Wipe the disk. The apples will sure reinstall the OS.

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How would you wipe the disk? – patrix Dec 2 '11 at 21:29 – kinokijuf Dec 3 '11 at 16:05

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