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I bought a 2012 Mac mini secondhand and do not know the password to it. I have tried resetting in all the normal ways, but found there is no operating system on it. Turning on the unit brings up a screen with a flashing folder with a question mark on it.

Reatarting it while holding windows key + R only brings me to a screen to input a password, which I do not know/have.

I cannot find any other way via internet searches. Is there something I'm missing? HELP

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macOS Catalina is the last version that supports that hardware.

The easiest process to describe is to get a friend or loaner Mac to install Catalina on a USB drive so you can hold the option key, connect the drive and boot the Mac. Then you can use the external OS to download the installer, erase the internal storage and get your restore on. Any earlier OS should work too, but Big Sur and newer won’t boot cleanly on that gear.

You may need help from Apple (or authorized repair shop) if this hardware is truly firmware locked.

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