Selling Your Mac: Getting the Most From Your Old Machine

This post is part of a series that revisits some of our readers’ favorite articles from the past that still contain awesome and relevant information that you might find useful. This post was originally published on March 30th, 2011.

One of the great things about Macs is the high resale value they maintain over time. In the last 4 years alone, I’ve never had to pay more than $300 out-of-pocket for a brand-new Macintosh, and that’s because I’ve been able to get the most value from the Macs I’ve sold!

I’ve put together a simple list of everything to consider when you go to sell your Mac. Read on past the break and we’ll look at some steps for getting the most out of selling your Mac.

Step 1: Knowing What You’ve Got

When you sell a car, people want to know all the details: how big is the engine, what kind of transmission does it have, does it have power windows, air conditioning, etc. When you go to post your Mac online, it’s important to include a list of everything your Mac has and does.

Luckily, your Mac has a simple utility called the System Profiler that will tell you everything you need to know.

Profiling Your Mac

Profiling Your Mac

To launch System Profiler, just click on the Apple Menu in the upper left-hand corner of your screen. You’ll notice “About This Mac,” but if you hold down your Option key, that menu item will change into System Profiler, letting you go take a peek “under the hood” of your Mac!

Option-Click "About This Mac" to launch System Profiler

Once inside System Profiler, you’ll find everything – from your Mac’s processor speed to the amount of memory your video card has. There’s more than enough info here to satisfy any curious purchaser.

Lion Update

In Lion, System Profiler has changed a little bit. It’s in the same place but is now called “System Information” and features a much more user friendly design.


System Information in Lion

Step 2: Packing Up Your Data

With the amount of information we keep in our computers these days, moving to a new one can feel more like moving to a new house. And of course, as in any big move, you’ll want to start by making sure you’ve got everything packed up and nothing left behind.

Luckily, the Mac makes it easy to “pack up” your data in a variety of ways:

1: Time Machine

Included with every Mac since 2007, Time Machine is the simplest and most convenient way to backup your files and move them to a new machine. All you need to do is plug in an external Hard Drive to a Mac running OS X 10.5 Leopard or later and follow the onscreen prompts.

Flux Capacitor Not Required

If you go the Time Machine route, then transferring your data onto your new Mac will be incredibly easy; every new Mac asks during the initial setup process if you want to migrate data from a Time Machine backup. 

2: Duping Your Drive

For users running an operating system prior to 10.5 Leopard or wary of Time Machine, creating an exact copy of your hard drive will be your next best bet. You’ll still need an external hard drive to store this “duplicate” on, so make sure you’ve got a drive with plenty of storage on-hand.