How to trade in your MacBook, macOS desktop, iPhone, or iPad

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

If you’re looking to trade in your Apple product — be it a MacBook, iMac, Mac desktop, iPhone, or iPad — you stand to get a pretty good return. Apple’s tech has a reputation on the secondhand market for retaining value long after release. This speaks to build quality, but mostly to Apple’s long-lasting software support for its older products. The trend is positive both for buyers who will end up with a product that could continue to work for years, and sellers, who will make a good percentage of their original purchase price back.

There are plenty of ways of trading in your old Apple products for cash. You can easily net an extra $50 to $100 from a sale if you’ve taken care of your tech, as buyers will pay more for products that look closer to new condition. So it pays to make sure that your hardware is in good shape.

Clean your gear

How you clean your Apple product will vary depending on what it is you’re selling. You’ll want to apply some screen cleaner to your iPhone, MacBook, iMac, or iPad before listing it for sale. While doing so, take note of any scratches or other defects in the display or the body, and be sure to accurately report them during the selling process, or you’ll probably be met with an unhappy buyer and no sale.

Remove any stickers from your tech, and if you have a can of compressed air, clean out any ports and grilles. There’s no reminder more immediate that your device is preowned than forgetting to clean out port gunk.

If you’re selling a macOS desktop, like a Mac Pro or Mac mini, open it up and gently remove any dust that has accumulated within, and if you want to add some RAM to sweeten the deal for buyers, this is your chance. It’s an easy task if you have the Mac Pro from 2013, or a Mac mini made before late 2012. Unfortunately for my colleague Nick Statt, making improvements to his late 2014 Mac mini proved to be a lot more complicated.

Perform a factory reset

Ensuring that your tablet or computer is properly wiped is mutually beneficial for both buyer and seller. What good is hardware that you can’t access due to an unknown passcode? Depending on what product you’re dealing with, the process for initiating a factory reset will be different, but it’s usually easy.

How to erase your MacBook or macOS desktop

On your MacBook or macOS desktop, first make sure you’ve backed up all of your personal files to your cloud storage service of choice or to an external hard drive via Time Machine. Once you’ve ensured that everything is duplicated and safe in a location other than your hard drive, you can wipe the computer.

  • Click the Apple logo up top, and hit “Restart”
  • Once you hear the startup chime, hold down the Command + R keys until the Apple logo appears on your screen. This will load you into the recovery partition of your hard drive, letting you obliterate your personal information once and for all.
  • Of the applications listed, open Disk Utility, then click into the first option listed under your hard drive’s name. If you haven’t changed its name, it will probably be called “Macintosh HD.”
  • Navigate to “Erase” and confirm the selection. If you choose to securely wipe your computer, it will take a few hours for the operation to write over your drive several times.
  • With this step finished, you’re ready to reinstall the operating system. Click the red “x” and you’ll be popped back to the recovery menu. Make sure your machine is connected to the internet, then hit “Reinstall macOS” to return it to factory settings.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

How to erase an iPhone or iPad

Before you wipe your phone or tablet, switch on iCloud to sync all of the information that you want to keep. Then:

  • Open up the Settings app and navigate to “General”
  • Once you’re there, scroll down to “Reset,” then hit “Erase all content and settings”
  • If asked, enter your passcode or Apple ID password, then the operation will execute

It’s far easier and faster to bring your iPhone or iPad back to factory settings than it is for one of Apple’s computers.

Trade or sell your Apple hardware

Apple’s GiveBack trade service will give you Apple Store credit in exchange for your computer, iPhone, or iPad. At Apple’s site, you can find out how much you can get for your machine before sending it in. You’ll just need your serial number and access to its specifications to find the value. Apple won’t pay you as much for your device as it might go for on the public market, but it’s a good option if you just want to flip your tech without a fuss.

If Apple isn’t offering enough for your tech, you can alternatively sell it to get some money that you can use toward buying a new MacBook Air, Mac mini, new iPad Pro, or something else entirely. You’ll find passionate people from all over who will likely take interest in your gear if it’s priced well and in good condition (and even if it’s not, so long as it’s priced accordingly). As for where you can sell your tech, and Craigslist remain the best options, but for different reasons.

If you are selling a tablet, phone, or laptop, you’ll want to go with Swappa (it currently doesn’t list desktops). Like Craigslist, Swappa doesn’t charge a fee to post to its market of buyers. One area where Swappa is ahead is that it supports PayPal, which protects both buyers and sellers during the transaction process.

Comparatively, Craigslist doesn’t limit what you want to sell, or charge you for listing your items. In fact, for better or worse, it doesn’t hold your hand at all. It will be up to you to arrange the meeting point, negotiate a price, and finally, decide on how money will be exchanged. This can be stressful, but it can also be super easy and fast. I’ve had plenty of good experiences selling on Craigslist, though you’ll always want to make sure that you meet in public places and don’t fall for an offer that seems too good to be true.

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