I have a MacBook which OS was upgraded from Snow Leopard 10.6.3 to 10.6.8 and then to El Capitan 10.11.

I want to completely reinstall El Capitan, to "factory state", in order to really "clean" the Mac. (However, I don't need to prevent data recovery.)

I started the MacBook holding down the "Alt" key and selected the partition for reinstalling, logged to Apple and the download of El Capitan was progressing.

Then, I moved away from the Mac for about two hours. When I came back, the user account is unchanged, with previously installed apps. Seems like the installer decided in my absence to keep the user files.

Can I resintall El Capitan to "factory state" without wiping the whole drive? Or should I create a new user and then delete existing one?

  • Hi Mike, You marked my question as duplicate but did not provide a link showing where the duplicate would be. I carefully browsed other questions before posting and could not find any that was exactly similar.
    – OuzoPower
    Aug 23, 2019 at 10:30

2 Answers 2


You almost got it right, but you didn’t wipe the disk first. You’ll want to wipe Macintosh HD in recovery mode first (choose Disk Utility) then repeat the steps you took to install El Capitan.

  • Thanks. Originally this MacBook had no Internet recovery option, so that I had to install Snow Leopard first, before upgrading to El capitan. Maybe is currently a recovery partition that would let me directly reinstall El Capitan. (The MacBook is not with me but I'll check.) The process of reinstalling is slow. I should have done a clone. What about adding a new user and deleting existing one?
    – OuzoPower
    Aug 23, 2019 at 10:37
  • @ouzopower adding a new user and deleting the existing one would solve most issues but would not be suitable in most instances. It depends who you’re giving it to.
    – Ezekiel
    Aug 24, 2019 at 12:56
  • Also I wanted to clarify that it still doesn’t have internet recovery but if you don’t exit recovery mode you can wipe it then reinstall it in one go.
    – Ezekiel
    Aug 24, 2019 at 12:57

No, you need to format the whole disk first!

Follow this guide to create a mac bootable usb key using createinstallmedia

To delete all the content of the hard disk make a linux bootable usb key. You can choose the distro that you prefer, insert it in the mac and hold option during the boot process, then start the system, open gparted and format all the disk.

Now insert the mac bootable media and run the installer pressing option during the boot, just wait and all will be fine.

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