I received a FileVault-protected MacBook running macOS Catalina and do not know the administrator login password. How do I perform a factory reset or otherwise prepare the laptop for a new user?

An authorized Apple repair shop told me I was out of luck and that I'd been given a brick.

  • If an AASP told you that you have a brick, chances are you have a brick, sorry to tell you. That is not to say that the machine cannot be "un-bricked" however, but this is not supported by any means and is quite involved. (Unless you can prove ownership to the AASP, in which case they should be able to do it for you using supported toolkits in AST2) More info is needed. What model MacBook do you have? (either the A-number or serial, if you're comfortable with posting it online) When you turn the machine on, what screen does it boot to? – kumowoon1025 May 29 '20 at 18:53
  • @kumowoon1025 I'm asking on behalf of my former employer. In the main question above, you can interpret "I" as "They". They're trying to refresh my laptop for a new user. I assume they have receipts to show proof of purchase. I don't have access to the machine. It's a relatively new MacBook Pro. – Michael S May 29 '20 at 22:05

Firmware password is something you need the password or Apple’s willing assistance to bypass.

FileVault and data encryption is trivial to erase by booting to another OS (Internet Recovery is often the easiest other OS) to wipe and reinstall.

Firmware password and hardware failures are the only things that interfere with an erase and install in my experience, once you have reviewed a couple support articles.

Here are the relevant references and definitions:


Apple customer service stated that macOS Recovery over the Internet does not require the login password, and that someone could erase/reformat the drive using that tool. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201314

  • Wait, you were able to solve your problem by booting into internet recovery?? – kumowoon1025 May 30 '20 at 9:57
  • Are you sure the repair shop you went to was "authorized"? I can't help but question their competency if they told you the machine was bricked, it sounds like it wasn't even locked, just encrypted. – kumowoon1025 May 30 '20 at 9:59
  • No, it was locked. I was told this method did not work after all, despite Apple's assertion. The repair shop insinuated that a non-authorized shop might be able to fix the machine despite the lock/encryption, but that they weren't allowed to use such techniques. – Michael S May 30 '20 at 17:48
  • Ah, I see. Yeah, then it likely has a firmware passcode or iCloud lock set on it, so to an authorized repair shop, it is supposed to be a brick. (Since it may have been locked remotely after being stolen, etc.) It sounds like it is company property though, so as you say, proving ownership would be possible. Proof of purchase from an authorized reseller would be sufficient for original owners, and the AASP should reset the firmware password for you. The encryption is a different story, but since you're trying to wipe the device clean anyway, that shouldn't be an issue. – kumowoon1025 May 30 '20 at 18:53
  • They sent me a screenshot saying they were ultimately blocked by an iCloud login screen, despite the fact I removed the device from my account (via the apple.com website). Sounds like it needs either the Apple Store or an AASP willing to bypass the login to wipe the device. Ironically, I think I might have been able to wipe the device remotely if they hadn't asked me to remove it from my iCloud account. – Michael S May 31 '20 at 4:25

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