Do you want to give your computer to another person, but before giving it away you want to remove all of your data? If so, here’s an easy way to accomplish this. We’ll create a user account for the person who’ll be using the Mac, then delete your user account.
These instructions were written for OS X 10.5 and 10.6, but should work on previous versions as well, though some of the names and wordings have changed subtly.
- Turn on the Mac and let it start up.
- Go to the Apple menu, select System Preferences and click on Accounts. (If your Mac has OS X 10.7 or higher installed then click on Users & Groups.)
- If the padlock in the lower left corner is locked, click on it to unlock it. Enter your user account’s password when prompted to do so.
- Click the plus sign button to add a new user account. Set “New Account” to “Administrator”. Enter the real world name of the new user of the Mac in the “Full Name” field. Enter a name in the “Account name” field; this name can not contain spaces, capital letters or punctuation marks. Enter a password in both the “Password” and “Verify” fields. Enter a password hint if you’d like.
- Click the “Create Account” button. (In newer version of Mac OS the button is labeled Create User.)
- Go to the Apple menu and select Log Out which appears at the bottom of the menu. Wait for the Mac to quit applications and log out.
- You’ll be presented with a login window. Type in the account name and password for the account you just created, or, if presented with a row of users click on the icon of the account you just created. You’ll be logged into this new user’s account. Now that you’re no longer using your account, it can be deleted.
- Go to the Apple menu, select System Preferences then click on Accounts.
- If the padlock in the lower left corner is locked, click on it to unlock it. Enter this new user account’s password when prompted to do so.
- Click on your old user account which will be listed on the left-hand side of the window.
- Click the minus sign button to delete your old user account.
- Select “Delete the home folder” to have all of the data in your user account deleted. [Optionally, click the Erase home folder securely option, if you want to prevent anybody from being able to recover this data. Be aware that securely erasing will make this process take much, much longer. This other tip explains the difference between deleting and securely erasing.]
- Click the OK button. The actual deletion process could take 10-15 minutes or longer, especially if there is a lot of data in your account. If you choose the securely erase option then the process will take many, many hours. Just be patient and let it run over night and into the next day.
- When the deletion process is complete, you can close the System Preferences window.