If you have been having some issues with your MacBook Pro like noticeable slowdowns, applications frequently crashing, or programs refusing to work altogether, one of the solutions that you might be advised to do is to format or reformat your MacBook Pro.
Format vs. Reformat: Which One Do You Need to Do
“Formatting” and “reformatting” are two terms that are often used interchangeably in computer troubleshooting tutorials, so it can be pretty confusing for casual computer users who are not sure which of the two they need to do on their MacBook Pro or if there is actually any difference between the two at all. After all, they sound pretty much the same, so they must probably do the same thing, right?
Generally speaking, yes they do. Formatting and reformatting your MacBook Pro both involves erasing whatever contents your drive (HDD, SSD, USB drives, etc ) may have had, but they do have a slight difference.
You format your MacBook Pro when you have a new drive and you want to prepare it for storing information, so what you do is erase its contents, tell your MacBook that you want to use that drive to store and process information, then to establish a file system that will determine how data will be organized afterwards.
Since new computers come shipped with pre-installed drives, including MacBooks, they are usually already formatted and ready for immediate use, so, typically, the only times that you will need to format a drive is if you bought a new one (like an external drive or a USB drive, for example) and it has not been formatted yet or if it has already been formatted but the file system that it uses is not fully supported by your MacBook Pro.
You reformat your MacBook Pro, on the other hand, if you have already been using your MacBook Pro’s drive for some time, and for one reason or another, you want to erase its contents — maybe because your computer is acting up and you want to see if reinstalling your operating system will solve the problem, maybe because you are suspecting your MacBook Pro has been infected by a virus or a malware and you are hoping that reformatting your MacBook Pro can get rid of it, or maybe you’re going to sell or give away your MacBook Pro to someone and you want to delete its contents before you hand it over.
So, essentially, you format the drive the first time you use it and you reformat it the next time and the succeeding times after that, so what you need to do on your MacBook Pro will depend on whether it’s the first time or the second, third, or fourth time you are going to be using it.
Since your MacBook Pro’s drive was probably already formatted when it was shipped to you, we will guide you on how to reformat your MacBook Pro in case you needed to do it for any of the reasons mentioned above.
How to Reformat Your MacBook Pro
Before we guide you on how to reformat your MacBook Pro, please be reminded that doing so will delete all of the contents of your drive, so if you have any important files on your drive that you don’t want to lose, take the time to backup your files before you go ahead with the reformatting.
After you’ve backed up your files, you may go ahead and reformat your MacBook Pro by following the steps below.
If the reason why you want to reformat your MacBook Pro is because you are going to be turning it over to a new owner, make sure that you sign out of any accounts on your Mac first, especially those that are associated with Apple devices like iTunes and iCloud.
Whatever actions are performed on your MacBook Pro (including downloading applications, purchasing products and services, and customizing settings) will be linked to the account that is currently signed in, so you need to prevent that from happening.
If you just want to reformat your MacBook Pro to fix an ongoing issue, then it’s not really necessary.
Going back, to reformat your MacBook Pro,
- Restart your computer.
- Hold the “Command” and R keys down for a few seconds until the “Utilities” window appears.
- Select “Disk Utility” from the “Utilities” window.
- Click on “Continue.”
- Choose the startup disk that you want to use (It’s usually labeled as Macintosh HD).
- Click on the “Erase” tab located at the top of the window.
- Click on “Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the drop-down menu.
- Select “Erase.”
- Wait for the process to finish.
- After the process is complete, go to the “Disk Utility” tab and select “Quit Disk Utility” from the drop-down menu.
The process above applies if you are going to reformat your MacBook Pro that runs on macOS. The process should be similar if you are using a different MacBook model or Mac operating system, but the navigation menu may be slightly different.
After you’re done reformatting your MacBook Pro’s drive, it will now be ready for the reinstallation of the operating system. If you don’t know how to go about it, you may refer to this step-by-step guide.