How to Clean the Hard Drive on a Mac

by Xugro Xiphius

Have you purchased a new Mac, or do you want to breathe new life into your old Mac? Clearing your Mac's hard drive is a great way to conserve space and get rid of old files. This process can also help fix issues associated with damaged hard drives and give your computer a fresh start.

Back up all data on your hard drive before proceeding any further. If you are using an external drive with software like Apple's Time Machine, your data is already backed up. You can also archive important files online or by burning them to DVDs.

Insert the Mac OS Install DVD that was included with your machine and click "Install Mac OS X." Your computer will need to restart to be able to proceed any further, since you can't clear the startup disk currently in use.

Disk Utility Screen Showing Erase Options

Select the "Disk First Aid" option from the "Utilities" menu. Pick the "Erase" tab and select the drive you want to clear.

Choose a format and name the drive you're about to clear. If you want to make data on the drive unrecoverable for security purposes, open "Security Options" and select the best option for your privacy needs.

Click on "Erase." Your Mac will ask if you are sure you want to do this. You cannot undo this decision!

Quit the Disk Utility application and continue installing Mac OS X. This process may last a few hours.


  • check If you're still having hardware issues after following these instructions, your drive may need to be replaced. Go to an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for further assistance.


  • close Reformatting your drive will delete it completely. Make sure you back up all necessary files and applications before erasing anything.

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About the Author

Xugro Xiphius is a freelance writer who earned his doctorate from an Ivy League University. He received his B.A. from a liberal arts college. He enjoys learning languages, reading literature, and video games in his spare time. His most recent interest is zombie movies. His book will be published in December of 2009, and his work has also appeared in peer-edited print and online journals.