How to sell a used Mac

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Apple computers hold their value very well over time. Older Macs will still sell on the market, as there are many people who don’t need a fast computer and just want a good price. Higher-end Apple laptops from two or three years ago can still sell for upwards of $1000 dollars if you know what you’re doing.

Here’s how to get rid of your old Apple computer

Step 1: Research

You have to know the market before you can start this process. There are a couple places you can look to find how much your Mac will sell for:


First, check Apple’s refurbished computer market. This can be a starting point, depending on the condition of the device. There probably won’t be a listing on Apple’s site if your device is more than 4 or 5 years old. Furthermore, the machines that Apple sells used or refurbished will be in extremely good condition– your computer’s value might now match up if it’s in rough shape. Keep this in mind while determining a price.


Next, check eBay listings for your specific year,make, and model. This should give you an idea on how much your computer is worth. Keep the device’s condition in mind– if someone is selling a Macbook Pro for $1000 in mint condition, you probably can’t get away with charging the same price for a beat-up device.

eBay will have many different hardware configurations available. Apple often sells the same computer with different specs– different hard drive sizes, processor speeds, and RAM capacities. You have to take all of these factors into consideration when pricing your used computer for resale.


Craigslist is a great tool if you’re looking to sell your computer locally. Different items are worth different amounts depending on the current market value in your area– for example, a crowded market could drive the price down in your local market. In this case you might want to try selling on eBay, as you’ll be able to reach a wider audience.

All of this pricing  information is critical for establishing a fair price– you want to get as much as you can and buyers want the best deal possible. Take your computer’s year, specification, and physical condition into consideration. Use a combination of this information to decide a fair price for your computer. Do you want it to sell quickly? Lower the price slightly. Keep it at a more standard price if you want to get the most out of your device.

Step 2: Pick a marketplace

You’ll be using many of the same research marketplaces– but this time you’ll be using them differently. Once again, your best options are eBay and Craigslist. Each have their pros and cons.

eBay allows you to reach a much wider audience, but there are some variables to consider. The website will take a certain percentage of your selling price, meaning you won’t get 100% of the listing’s eventual stopping point. Shipping will also be another variable you’ll need to take care of– these machines won’t hold up well to the mailman’s abuse unless you pack them well.

Craigslist allows you to sell on a much less formal basis. You’ll have a bit more wiggle room on price–assuming you’re good at haggling.

Step 3: Preparing your computer for sale

There are a couple steps you must take in order to go through with a smooth sale:

1: Clean your computer— Shake crumbs out of the tray, wipe your fingerprints off the screen, and try to return the device to the cleanest state you’ve seen in a long time. Your customer will appreciate it, and it can give them the impression that the computer is in great condition.

2: Perform a factory reset

This is a critical step that removes all of your personal information from the device. You don’t want anyone seeing the embarrassing photos from that Christmas party in 2012… so it’s best to back up your information and delete them from the computer you’re about to

Caution: Back up any data you want to keep, because you’re about to delete the contents of your hard drive

-Go to your menu bar, choose the Apple Menu –> Restart

-Choose Disk Utility then Continue

-Select your startup disk, then click the Erase tab (this will not delete your data

-Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the Format menu, enter a name, then click Erase 

-Allow the program to work, then choose Disk Utility –> Quit Disk Utility

-Choose Reinstall OS X, choose Continue, then follow the onscreen prompts

Following these steps allows you to take your computer’s software back to the state it was when you first purchased it. Don’t leave any personal information on the machine, or else your buyer might be able to use it for nefarious purposes.

3. Gather any documentation or accessories

People making big purchases like this appreciate getting the total package. See if you can track down the device’s original packaging, instruction manuals, and all chargers or cables that came in the box when you bought it. This usually won’t be a dealbreaker for most people, but it can be a small detail that helps bump up your selling price slightly.

We love unboxing tech products for whatever reason, as evidenced by the thousands of YouTube videos where people take their new tech purchases out of the packaging. Don’t deprive your buyer of this simple pleasure.

Making the sale

This applies if you’re selling your computer in person– knowing the basics of haggling is important for getting the most out of your old computer.

If you’re going to remember anything, remember this: You can always walk away. Some people will come and meet with you but they’ll offer a price significantly under what you want for the product. You’re under no obligation to make a sale if you’re not comfortable with the situation or asking price. Don’t be afraid to walk away. Yes, it’s not fun having to go back home without making a sale, but it’s better than getting ripped off.

The Art of Manliness has a great guide on haggling that’s a great read. You’ll want to understand how smart buyers will operate in order to get the best deal possible for your device.

Lastly, try to have the buyer pay in cash. This minimizes any risk of a fake check or other scam.



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About the Author
Brian Galloway is an unabashed tech geek based in Nashville, Tennessee. When he's not obsessively searching for the next computer upgrade, he's probably curled up on the couch with a book and the day's third cup of coffee.

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