I am to visit a storage unit full of relatively new ( 2015 - 2020 ) used MacBooks to pick one for myself. I'm expecting there to be different models with different amounts of CPU and RAM. What is the quickest way to identify the specifications of each laptop? Should I bring a charger or a screwdriver?


4 Answers 4


The serial number should be printed on the back and can be used on https://everymac.com/ultimate-mac-lookup/ to get the spec details. Unfortunately this will not show built-to-order details, so your best bet is to charge and boot (at least into Recovery) those which look interesting.


If you want to see build to order specs you can boot the mac into recovery mode and start a terminal.

Then you can use the /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/usr/sbin/system_profiler SPHardwareDataType SPHardwareDataType command to get a full overview of the hardware.

To boot into the recovery mode, use command + r on startup.

This does require however that the previous users did not set a firmware password. If you bring a wifi hotspot or an ehternet cable (with the appropriate adapter) you also could boot newer Macs to Internet Recovery, so there are lots of options to get detailed information even if you might be foiled by an account password that’s missing.


The other answers already cover how to extract the specs so I want to touch on this piece:

I am to visit a storage unit full of relatively new ( 2015 - 2020 ) used MacBooks to pick one for myself.

What? is this normal?

Do you plan to buy a laptop without making sure it boots up?

Shouldn't a charger be supplied with the laptop you choose?

Shouldn't the seller have specs posted? How do you know the price before you pick it up?

Why aren't these machines already factory reset and bootable? If you can't get to the system info screen then how can you trust what you see?

I'm hoping they have their specs posted somewhere so all you need to worry about is verifying specs right before handing over your money.

Something seems quite fishy...

  • 1
    It could be the storage room of a company where unused hardware gets stored, or a school or similar. Nevertheless a factory reset/reinstall is a good idea in such cases.
    – nohillside
    Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 19:09
  • 5
    Indeed, I work for a company that owns all of these MacBooks. They are allocated to whoever needs one and then they are returned back to the storage unit whenever they are abandoned by their previous user.
    – cyberixae
    Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 19:11
  • 1
    @cyberixae Oh I see, you're getting a laptop for work from their unorganized stockpile? That's a heck of a lot different than my assumption of shady sellers. Good luck!
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Jun 30, 2021 at 12:49

nohillside's answer (looking up the serial number) looks pretty good. If, however, there's a good chance that the computer's have had changes made to them (e.g. ram or hd upgrades or removals) then I recommend bringing a boot disk on usb-a (like usb 2 or usb 3) and usb-c flash drives. Apple and ifixit have guides for creating install media boot drives. Don't use the boot drive to reset/erase/restore/install anything; use the tools included (e.g. Disk Utility and Terminal) to check the system. I believe that these instructions, for use with recovery mode, will work, with little to no modification, from the install media boot drive.

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