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I'm going to sell my Macbook Pro and want to remove all of the data before doing so. I have the OS Lion installed but my machine came with Snow Leopard. How can I remove everything and restore it to basically just the OS without losing Lion? I want to sell the machine with Lion. Thanks.

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Apple provides instructions on erasing and reinstalling OS X, so the system will be as it was when it came from the factory: http://support.apple.com/kb/PH4439

These instructions guide you through reformatting the drive and reinstalling OS X via Recovery.

  • Will this preserve my current OS considering it wasn't what it came with from the factory? – Joshua Nov 27 '12 at 2:09
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    Yes, this will preserve Lion. The computer doesn't actually have your original OS on it any more, it just has Lion and a recovery partition to restore Lion. – cablesm Nov 27 '12 at 2:30
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You can reinstall like cablesm suggested and it will have Lion installed but you have to understand that you do NOT sell Lion with it unless you have a bought Lion USB Stick cause Lion is hard bundled with YOUR AppleID and you can not sell it or move it to another AppleID!

Therefore I would sell it with Snow Leopard preinstalled.

Here are instructions copied straight from http://support.apple.com/kb/PH6522

To erase and reinstall Mac OS X Snow Leopard:

  • Insert the Mac OS X installation disc into your computer’s optical drive (or an optical drive connected to your computer), and then double-click the Install Mac OS X icon.

  • In the Installer, click Utilities, and then click Restart.

  • When the Language Chooser appears, select your language, and then click the Continue button (looks like an arrow).

  • In the Installer, choose Utilities > Disk Utility.

  • Select your startup disk from the list on the left, and then click the Erase tab.

  • From the Format pop-up menu, select Mac OS Extended (Journaled), type a name for your disk, and then click Erase.

  • After the disk has been erased, choose Disk Utility > Quit Disk Utility, and then follow the instructions in the Mac OS X Installer to reinstall Mac OS X.

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You may also be able to take the Mac into the Apple store and have a Genius clean wipe and install up to the latest OS for you.

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