Coming from the PC world, most made-to-order manufacturers (e.g., Dell, HP, Acer, etc.) all have annoying little addons which I consider spyware/bloatware--things like toolbars with ads. When buying such PC laptops, I would always reformat their hard drives and then install just Windows (and drivers), ensuring a blank slate without any bloat.

I don't believe Apple includes such spyware/bloatware. Nevertheless, when purchasing a new machine direct from Apple, are there are any advantages or disadvantages to wiping the existing drive and performing a fresh install of OS X?

  • 4
    Assuming you buy it new from Apple or a vendor you trust, there is no need to reinstall it. If you buy it used or from a vendor you don't really trust, you should reinstall it to avoid using a potentially compromised machine.
    – user56648
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 19:03
  • 6
    One advantage, if you're coming from Linux, is that it's an opportunity to format your disk with a case-sensitive file system.
    – jub0bs
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 19:22
  • 1
    @Jubobs Is there not an in-place way to convert it? I would assume that on a filesystem level it's just a flag within the metadata.
    – nanofarad
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 0:22
  • @hexafraction As far as I know, no. You have to format the disk if you want to change case sensitivity.
    – jub0bs
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 6:39
  • I don't believe Apple includes such spyware Well, obviously the're doing a better job of hiding it than Microsoft...
    – Levi
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 9:50

4 Answers 4


There are several disadvantages:

  • Most internet posts describing how to reinstall OS X miss the hardware specific diagnostic boot image that is stored on Recovery HD (this has changed starting with El Capitan 10.11).
  • You will lose the iLife apps if you don't first boot the factory OS and claim those redemptions to an Apple ID.

The recovery boot isn't a deal breaker if you don't mind using a generic internet recovery boot image when needed. Or you can find and reinstall the following folder on the 'Recovery HD':

So, your call on what happens when pressing and holding the 'D' button at startup.

Losing iMovie, Photos (or iPhotos if the Mac shipped with that as well/instead), GarageBand doesn't matter if you purchased the hardware under a DEP program or don't care to use those or already have them or don't care to spend money later to buy them as needed.

  • 1
    The local diagnostics don't get re-installed with a fresh OS X installation?
    – cfx
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 15:45
  • 2
    Yes, that's what I tried to convey with my answer.
    – Redarm
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 16:00

There isn't any advantage to wiping and reinstalling OS X on a new Mac direct from Apple. You'll end up with the exact same drive contents. I can't think of any difference between an Apple-imaged Mac and a self-imaged Mac.

  • 3
    I disagree with this. There are two major drawbacks to a nuke and pave. 1) You potentially lose your iLife apps 2) you lose potentially lose hardware specific recovery boot software
    – bmike
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 14:11

No, Apple doesn't have any bloatware. But I still see two advantages:

  • Free up some space (precious if you have 128 GB SSD) if you won't be using iLife apps such GarageBand or use Office instead of iWork apps. They can consume a few gigabytes. And you will be still able install them later as when you first run Mac App Store, it will run a check of your serial number to see if you're eligible to download it for free.
  • Consider splitting Fusion Drive to two drives - fast SSD for system, apps and home folder, and large HD for other, more space consuming media such as videos. Of course out-of-box FD is working well but geeks like us might want to be more in control of what's happening with our data.

Apple Diagnostics can be loaded from Internet with option-D. This lists the disk images which are loaded.

Just a warning - some apps such as Adobe won't work with case-sensitive format.


Wiping the disk could disable the software necessary to implement FileVault 2, Apple's method of full disk encryption.

  • 1
    You can enable full disk encryption without wiping the OS first
    – nohillside
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 18:44
  • I think Griffin's thinking of Core Storage, which is required for FileVault 2. Wiping the HD could undo the Core Storage volume.
    – user24601
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 18:47
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    @user24601 But the installer would rectify this again (all naturally depending on the machine). Now breaking up a fusion drive is a different kettle of fish.
    – Redarm
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 20:31
  • OS X can convert a non core storage drive to core storage on the fly or ask for a reboot if needed to accomplish the switch later. I suppose that's a downside in time if you are doing dozens or more machines.
    – bmike
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 14:13

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