Macs are expensive, but they have a higher secondhand value than PCs. Here’s how to sell your Mac hardware, whether you’re upgrading to a new Mac or you just want some cash for old MacBooks you have lying around.
Back Up and Delete Your Old Data
It’s obviously not a great idea to sell a device with all of your personal information stored on it. The first thing you’ll need to do is get rid of all of that data and reset your Mac back to factory settings, to protect yourself and also make it easier to set up as a new computer.
You’ll probably want to keep a copy of your data somehow. If you’ve just bought a new Mac, you can migrate your data from your old one to the new one. If you want to start fresh, or are switching to a Windows machine, you can keep a backup of your files in case you need them in the future.
Next, you’ll want to wipe your Mac’s hard drive. You can read our guide on how to do this from Recovery Mode, which shouldn’t take more than an hour or so depending on how much data you have and how securely you want to wipe your hard drive. Afterward, you’ll probably want to reinstall macOS, or else it won’t be usable to whoever you sell it to.
Find Your Specs
Apple releases new Macbooks nearly every year and usually has a dozen models for each launch. You’ll want to find out exactly which one you have to make an accurate listing.
If you know the year your laptop was made (not purchased), you can look it up on Apple’s tech specs database to get a full listing that you can link to. Otherwise, you can click on the Apple logo in the top menu bar and select “About this Mac.”
This will open up a dialog which will list out all of your computer’s specifications.
The main things you’ll want to note are the model name (e.g., “MacBook Pro”), the year it was made, the screen size, and the amount of RAM your system has. If you paid for a processor upgrade in your Mac, be sure to list that as well.
Option 1: Sell it Yourself for More Money
If you like money and have time to spare, selling it yourself is the way to go. In general, you won’t get close to retail price for your Mac, even if it’s in mint condition. Buying used comes with a discount, and it has to be significant enough for people to consider. You should look up how much your particular device is selling for on these websites and list yours at or below that price point.
Make sure your Mac is clean, and take good pictures of it for your listing. Make sure to include all relevant information in the listing. You should also include a link to the product’s retail page so buyers can both see how much of a discount they’re getting and view more specs of the machine.
Note: there are plenty of electronic scrap businesses out there claiming to buy your devices for top dollar only to offer you well below market value. You’ll have to wade your way through a sea of scams and stick to trusted sources.
Selling Online vs. Selling Locally
You have two options: sell it online (and ship it to the buyer) or sell it locally. If you’re selling online, you’ll be competing with resellers, official vendors, and thousands of other people looking to make a quick buck. It can be much easier but also leaves you prone to return scams when the service takes the side of the buyer.
Selling locally gets a bad reputation, but it’s quite safe if you know what you’re doing. The basic rules to avoid being scammed are:
- Meet in a busy public place, so you don’t get mugged or robbed. You can even meet at a police station if you’re paranoid.
- Do not ship the item. This is a scam—you’re selling locally for a reason. Always meet in person.
- Cash only. Anything else is likely a scam. Scammers can commit check fraud, writing you a check that appears to deposit correctly at first only to bounce.
- You’ll likely get a few responses that sound like robots repeating your full post title. Don’t bother responding to these; they’re scams.
Use some common sense, and don’t trust people asking more than they should of you. There are plenty of scammers out there, but once you get past those meeting someone in person is the only way to ensure everything goes down smoothly.
Craigslist is a very good site for selling your old electronics to interested buyers. Despite it being a local marketplace, as long as you don’t live in the middle of nowhere, you’ll find people looking to get a deal on used devices or prospective resellers looking to take it off your hands.
Facebook Marketplace is like Craigslist, except a bit less underground and sketchy. If you’re afraid of Craigslist, post your listing here.
eBay is the go-to option for selling used goods online.
Amazon, generally used by more permanent vendors, also allows you to list your own products much like eBay
Swappa: like eBay, easier to use, smaller user base.
Option 2: Trade it in For Quick Cash
If you can’t be bothered creating a listing or selling your machine, you can trade it in for store credit (and sometimes cash). Apple has its own trade-in program that’s much faster and easier than selling it yourself. Of course, they’ll only give you gift cards to buy new Apple products, but if you’re looking to upgrade, you can sell your old devices to finance your new ones.
This process is only really worth it if your computer is in good shape. Apple offered us $490 for a 2015 13″ MacBook Pro, which is below the $800 or so that you may get selling it on a site like Craigslist. However, if your device has a lot of scratches, or is generally damaged, you won’t get close to that amount. Apple would only give us $160 for a scratched up MacBook—an abysmally small sum—limiting us to the accessory bin at the Apple Store.
You can sell it to other trade-in programs, like Best Buy, but in our testing, they offered less than Apple did. Gazelle offers similar amounts, but at least pays in cash. You could try your luck at a local pawn shop if you’re seriously strapped for cash, but however you trade it in, you’ll always get less money than if you were to sell it yourself.
We recommend putting a listing up on Craigslist or Facebook for a few weeks, and then resorting to a trade-in if it doesn’t sell. The best use case of these trade-in programs is if you’re the kind of person who buys a new iPhone every year, but in that case, you can just use the iPhone Upgrade Program.