Checklist for Buying a Used Mac: A Comprehensive Guide

Back to the “Used Mac Buying Guide

Avoid the potential issues below by buying from these high quality sources:

Buying a used Mac can be a wise investment, but it requires careful consideration. This checklist guides you through the necessary steps to ensure you’re making a well-informed purchase.

1. Assess Your Computing Needs

Consider your primary usage for the computer (e.g., web browsing, video editing, graphic design, gaming) to determine the type and specifications of the Mac you need.

2. Understand the Specs You Need

Decide on the minimum specs you need, including the processor speed, RAM, storage space, and type of storage (SSD vs. HDD).

3. Find the Original Retail Price

Search online to find the original retail price of the Mac model you’re considering. This gives you a baseline for comparison.

4. Check Current Market Prices

Research online marketplaces and certified resellers to understand the current market value of the used Mac model.

5. Consider the Mac’s Age, Condition, and Specs

These factors significantly affect the Mac’s value. Typically, newer, well-maintained Macs with higher specs have more value.

6. Verify the Source

Buy from reputable sources. Trusted online retailers, popular online marketplaces, or friends and colleagues can be good sources.

7. Check the Cosmetic Condition

Examine the Mac for any physical damage. Scuffs and scratches may not affect performance but could hint at rough handling.

8. Inspect the Hardware

Check all hardware components. The screen, keyboard, trackpad, ports, camera, speakers, and Wi-Fi connectivity should all be in working order.

9. Test the Software

Ensure the operating system and built-in apps are running smoothly. Also, verify that the Mac can install and run apps from the App Store.

10. Verify the Battery Health

On a MacBook, check the battery health. Batteries with a high cycle count might need replacement soon.

11. Check for Active AppleCare or Warranties

Active warranties or AppleCare can add value and offer peace of mind.

12. Check the Serial Number

The serial number can provide information about the Mac’s manufacturing details and can be checked on Apple’s warranty status website to confirm legitimacy.

13. Make Sure It’s Not Stolen

Verify that the Mac hasn’t been reported as stolen. The serial number can be checked on websites that maintain databases of stolen devices.

14. Ensure the Mac isn’t iCloud Locked

Before buying, ensure the seller has signed out of iCloud and turned off Find My Mac to prevent activation lock.

15. Negotiate the Price

Based on your observations, negotiate a fair price.

16. Ensure a Safe Payment Method

Use a secure payment method that provides some level of buyer protection.

17. Obtain Proof of Purchase

Request a receipt or bill of sale. This is especially important if the Mac is still under warranty.

18. Check for Return Policy

A return policy gives you recourse if you discover issues with the Mac after purchase.

19. Perform a Factory Reset

Once you’ve made the purchase, perform a factory reset to start fresh.

20. Install Updates

Ensure the operating system and all apps are updated to the latest versions.

21. Set Up Your Apple ID and iCloud

Sign in with your Apple ID (or create a new one) and set up iCloud.

22. Install Essential Software

Install the software you need for your specific uses.


This checklist should guide you through the process of buying a used Mac. Following these steps should help ensure you’re making a smart, well-informed investment.

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