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If Macbook has been wiped, will “find my iPhone” still work?

I lost my Macbook Pro recently. I had activated iCloud on the computer, so Find My Mac is operable.

If the thief wipes the hard drive, and installs a fresh operating system, OSX Lion or Leopard, for example, then will I still be able to locate my device? In particular if the thief installs Leopard (which obviously doesn't support Find my Mac) will Find My Mac still work?


3 Answers 3


If the thief just wipes the harddrive, there is a slight chance that your device will still show up in Find My Mac as the association is saved in the NVRAM which persists even after a drive format.

However, if the thief or new owner clears the NVRAM in any way, or reconfigures iCloud with another account and enables Find My Mac for it, the association will be deleted or overwritten, and you will no longer be able to track your device.

See this question for more on the subject.

  • I believe iCloud will remember the last known location of the computer even after it was wiped. That is, Find My Mac is not sending new data, but the old data doesn't instantly disappear from iCloud. So you might be able to track the location where the thief does the wiping, if he boots it up once before wiping.
    – Stephen R
    Commented Jun 6, 2015 at 17:10

Just made a fresh test (with MacOS 10.14.4) where Find my Mac was activated. During the entire installation process I was able to send signals to the machine from iCloud.com. But at first startup/log in all connections were lost... I don't know if this is how it's supposed to work, but this is the reality. :(


The answer is no. iCLoud will be deleted along with everything else.

Keep iCloud open on your current computer to make sure you get each location the device is located at.

  • Thanks for your reply,Do you mean that if he delets all data and install fresh OS, i will not be able to locate my device via Icloud?
    – hiukiy
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 19:58
  • @hiukiy It depends. Did you enable file vault? Does your user log in automatically? The more details you can put in an edit in your question (what OS and whether you encrypted the drive) will allow someone to best answer the question. Bummer about the loss, but if you search on the site here, most of the questions how Find My Mac works are already answered.
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 22:59
  • 1
    This is not entirely true Tony, the Find My Mac association is actually stored in the NVRAM.
    – Gerry
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 23:01
  • And the guest account can connect to WiFi, or the system could boot to a user account and either show the screen or be locked at the passcode. Whether the system first boots to recovery HD to unlock a File Vault can also mean that your settings are preserved after a basic wipe and "reinstall".
    – bmike
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 23:06
  • Gerry, if the OS is wiped, and there is no sign in or association to iCloud, then YES it is true. This was the question asked. Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 16:33

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