For most people, upgrading to the newest version of macOS is a painless process—click the update button and wait. But for those of us who want to start fresh by wiping our Macs clean as if they were coming off the assembly line, it’s a little trickier.
To use it, first upgrade to Monterey using Software Update. Once you’re up and running, you’ll find a new feature Apple has added—Erase All Content and Settings that lets you reset your Mac to the factory settings without needing to format disks or launch any extra apps.
You can find it in the System Preferences menu in the System Preferences app. When you select it, it will prompt you for your admin password, then ask if you’ve backed up. (If you haven’t, we have instructions here.) Then you’ll need to confirm, enter your Apple ID password, and confirm again.
It works just like it does on the iPhone. Your Mac will reset and show a black screen with a white Apple logo and a status bar. Once finished it will activate your Mac once it’s connected to WiFi, and then restart. You’ll then go through the usual setup process, where you can restore your files from a backup.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.