How to Reset an Apple Laptop

By Tracy Williams

Apple's line of laptop computers include the MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. All versions run on the operating system OSX. Though OSX is a very stable operating system that rarely hangs or crashes, it does happen occasionally, and when it happens you'll need to reset the computer to be able to use it again. Depending on how responsive your computer is, you can reset an Apple laptop through either a software or hardware option -- or, as a last resort -- erase and re-install the entire operating system to bring it back to the original factory settings.

Things You'll Need

  • Mac OSX system disk

Soft Reset

Step 1

Close all applications.

Step 2

Click on the apple in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Select "Restart" from the menu.

Step 3

Press restart button located on the upper right-hand corner of the keyboard. Your computer will turn back on.

Hard reset

Step 1

Press the power button located in the upper right hand side of the keyboard, just above the eject button.

Step 2

Continue to depress the button for 10 seconds. The computer will power off.

Step 3

Press the power button again to turn your laptop back on.

Erase and re-install

Step 1

Insert the OS X system disk into your computer's CD drive.

Step 2

Restart the computer as described in the sections above. When the computer restarts, immediately hold down the C key on the keyboard and keep it depressed during the startup sequence.

Step 3

Click through the on-screen directions on the OS X install disk. After accepting the license agreement and choosing a hard drive volume on which to install, the system will ask you what kind of install you wish to perform. Choose "Erase and Install."

Step 4

Click on "Mac OSX Extended (Journaled)" in the "Format Disk As" dropdown menu.

Step 5

Click "Continue." A clean install of the operating system will be performed, resetting your Apple laptop to its factory settings.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you're performing the erase and re-install, you must back up any data you wish to save onto an external hard drive or removable media such as DVDs. All of your data will be erased from the internal hard drive during the re-installation process.
  • If possible, be sure to save any information in open programs before performing the hard reset. You'll lose any unsaved data when the computer turns off.
  • Don't close the laptop lid until the computer has finished the shutdown process; closing the computer in the middle of shutdown might cause issues when you attempt to reboot.