I'm considering buying my used MacBook Air from my employer. One of the main reasons for doing so is because it is loaded with tons of awesome software (Adobe, Microsoft, etc.) that I would never be able to afford! I do realize this is not legal.

Of course, before selling it to me, they insist on re-imaging the computer (sans all of those awesome programs) to maintain their site license agreements. Good for them.

Is there any way I can get these programs back onto the Mac after it gets wiped?

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    Not unless they're also going to make you a present of the authorisation codes, no. Or you could pre-empt & clone it yourself ;) – Tetsujin Mar 13 '16 at 11:09
  • Nope--don't think they're going to do that! How would I clone it myself? – doughpat Mar 13 '16 at 12:40
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    Carbon Copy Cloner & an external drive... though if the machine ever reconnects to the domain, you might lose the lot, & also hear from their solicitors. It's not really a wise move. – Tetsujin Mar 13 '16 at 12:48

There is no way that you are going to get those programs. The MacBook will be connected to an enterprise server and as soon as it is wiped, it gets restored to factory state. If you get the authorization code to connect to the enterprise server then you can get all the programs that are available under the license which your company possess.

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As a general case, you would need a backup that's either a system copy or a Time Machine backup to restore anything (apps, settings, passwords, certificates, user accounts, and such) to a machine.

Depending on how the company has installed the applications, they might be tied to an App Store model and things that are signed applications won't run without the password or a valid enterprise entitlement/MDM pushing updates to the applications.

It would be hard to guess what happens if you tried to restore that backup or if you tried to manually reinstall some things (say you wanted the documents you personally were responsible and allowed to recover).

In an ideal world, you would get some IT help to thin the things that need to be removed from the device and get their blessing to make a backup of the things you can realistically restore.

Then you would need to purchase licenses for the software or seek alternative apps that are priced in a way you wish to spend to make your personal computer get things done you need. Not everyone needs photoshop, for example. Things like Acorn or Pixelmator do a fantastic job at a different price point than Adobe's product.

Lastly, don't overlook how many documents Apple's core notes, Preview, iCloud web apps can edit and annotate quite well.

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  • P.S. I'm aware that some people readily pirate software, but I didn't want to "preach" too much in the main post. It's something you could do, but I hope that's not what you decide once you think over your options. If you feel free software is important than use/adopt/contribute in your own way to that movement. If you want to support people that make useful software, that's ideally what happens when money changes hands between the seller and the buyer. – bmike Mar 13 '16 at 14:37

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