I am selling an old Mac with OS X 10.4 (Tiger), and I don't have the installation CD anymore so I can't format and re-install; I have to leave the current installation intact.

Obviously, I'd like to remove any personal data from it. What I've done:

  1. Move out all important data
  2. Delete my old account (and entire home directory)
  3. Create a new account for the new owner
  4. Delete unused space in Disk Utility
  5. Delete Spotlight index
  6. Delete /var/db/locate.db

Is there anything else I should do to ensure that no personal data is available on the machine?

For example, I have never stored any personal data outside the /Users folder. But is there anything that OS X stores there, caches or similar things?

  • We already have several questions covering this: apple.stackexchange.com/search?q=before+selling+a+Mac, you should find the required details there.
    – nohillside
    Sep 19, 2013 at 6:03
  • 4
    All of these articles seem to assume a full reinstallation. I don't have the installation CD's.
    – forthrin
    Sep 19, 2013 at 6:04
  • You need to be aware of application support files. Some applications may store their license info in the .app in the /Applications folder. Any Mac App Store purchase will have an identifying file in the .app folder as well. I think iWork used to use /Library/Application Support/ for its license; or, maybe /Library/Preferences. Both of those locations should be checked for other apps which might have added files. Applications write to the installation database when they are upgraded; but, it shouldn't have any unique info.
    – Kent
    Sep 19, 2013 at 6:06
  • There are still torrents for 10.4 installation DVDs or CDs, or you can buy them from eBay.
    – Lri
    Sep 19, 2013 at 7:40
  • 1
    All mails, calender, etc. are deleted when I delete the old user account (see point 2). I'm just wondering if there could be things elsewhere on the hard drive (that I didn't put there manually, but that was put there by the system somehow).
    – forthrin
    Sep 19, 2013 at 11:14

1 Answer 1

  1. Create a new user with admin privileges named Victor (or any name of your choice)

  2. Login with Victor, and remove fully (Delete the home folder option) all other accounts.

  3. Start Disk Utility and select the Erase function (what you did in step 4).

    Just do an Erase Free Space and place the cursor in the middle position which will do a 3-pass erase. This is sufficient to protect you against any normal user and normal recovery software.

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