I am new to Macs. I need to reset my MacBook Pro 2019 to factory settings. It was on Mojave originally then I upgraded it to Catalina. My questions are:

  1. Should I follow the steps of reset for Mojave or Catalina?

  2. What happens to FileVault encryption key when the laptop is reset? Does the encryption key remain the same?

What I mean by factory reset is, see for example here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kPvfTdq_Vs

Please, advise. Thanks

  • 1
    Why do you need to 'reset' your Mac? Are you selling it? Or are you trying to fix a problem?
    – benwiggy
    Jul 13, 2020 at 7:19
  • What do you mean with "factory reset", which instructions are you looking at?
    – nohillside
    Jul 13, 2020 at 7:31
  • Factory reset example, youtube.com/watch?v=3kPvfTdq_Vs, they are slightly differeny for Mojave and Catalina
    – Michael
    Jul 13, 2020 at 9:59
  • 3
    It's videos such as these that perpetuate incorrect terminology and procedures. There's no such thing as "factory resetting a laptop" (Mac or PC). The procedure is called Recovery and Apple details it in the link I provided as well as in @nohillside's answer. The question you have to answer for yourself which OS do you want, Mojave or Catalina?
    – Allan
    Jul 13, 2020 at 11:29

2 Answers 2


See Apple's documentation on Recovery Mode on ways to reinstall macOS and/or erase the disk. A simple reinstallation should not impact installed applications or user data, but as usual making a backup before is recommended. Also, downgrading from Catalina to Mojave always require changes in the disk format/partitions so you must make a backup before.

Which version of macOS is installed during Recovery can be partially influenced by the way Recovery Mode is launched (see https://support.apple.com/kb/HT204904):

  • Cmd-R reinstalls the same version as currently installed
  • Opt-Cmd-R installs the newest version available
  • Shift-Opt-Cmd-R installs the version the Mac shipped with (or the oldest one still available if the shipped version isn't available any longer)

If you clean install macOS, you will "wipe out" any FileVault encryption so whether you have the key or not is rendered moot. The boot firmware password, however, is not affected.


There isn't really an option to 'reset to factory settings'. You can do a clean install of the OS on an erased volume.

Whether you choose Mojave or Catalina is entirely up to you, depending on why you want to do this.

If you just erase the volume, then the encryption scheme should remain the same.

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