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Back to the “Used Mac Buying Guide

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When purchasing a used Mac, it’s crucial to ensure that the device isn’t iCloud locked. An iCloud lock, also known as an Activation Lock, is a feature designed to prevent anyone else from using your Apple device if it’s ever lost or stolen. Here’s a detailed guide on how to ensure that a used Mac isn’t iCloud locked:

1. Understanding iCloud Lock (Activation Lock)

Activation Lock is a part of Apple’s Find My service. It locks your device to your Apple ID, requiring your Apple ID and password to erase and reactivate the device. If a Mac you’re looking to buy is Activation Locked, it’s either still tied to the previous owner’s Apple ID, or it could be a lost or stolen device.

2. Checking Activation Lock Status During Setup

If the Mac has been factory reset and is at the setup stage, you can check for Activation Lock. As you go through the setup process, if you’re asked for an Apple ID and password, that means Activation Lock is on.

3. Checking Activation Lock Status on a Running Mac

If the Mac is already set up and running, you can still check if it’s tied to an Apple ID:

  • Open System Preferences.
  • Click on Apple ID.
  • Click Overview.
  • If the Mac is tied to an Apple ID, you’ll see the email address associated with the Apple ID here.

If you see an Apple ID here, ask the seller to sign out. They’ll need to enter their Apple ID password and select “Remove from Account.”

4. Ask the Seller to Turn Off Find My Mac

Before handing over the Mac, the seller should turn off Find My Mac, which in turn disables Activation Lock:

  • Open System Preferences.
  • Click on Apple ID.
  • Click on iCloud.
  • Uncheck Find My Mac.

5. Check for Firmware Password

Sometimes, sellers might set a firmware password that prevents the Mac from starting up from any internal or external storage device other than the startup disk you’ve selected. To check:

  • Restart the Mac.
  • Immediately press and hold the Option key. If you’re asked for a password, a firmware password is set.

The seller should provide the firmware password or turn it off before selling.

Conclusion

Checking for an iCloud or Activation Lock is a critical step when buying a used Mac. Always make sure that the device isn’t linked to the previous owner’s Apple ID, and that Find My Mac is turned off. If the seller can’t or won’t do these things, it’s a red flag that the Mac may not be legitimately theirs to sell, or they could be neglecting these steps, leaving you with a device that you can’t fully use.