Shopping for a Used Mac or MacBook? Examine These Issues Earlier than You Purchase


Shopping for a second-hand Mac is a good possibility for anybody postpone by Apple’s worth premiums for brand spanking new machines. They’re well-built, they’re well-supported with years of free macOS updates, and any AppleCare+ plans might be transferred to a second-hand purchaser.

However before you purchase a second-hand Mac, you need to run just a few checks to ensure you don’t get stung first.

The Fundamentals of Shopping for a Second Hand Mac

Shopping for any high-value merchandise second-hand is usually a nerve-wracking expertise. That is true whether or not you’re buying from a personal vendor you discovered on Fb Market or a second-hand retailer on the excessive avenue. On the very least, you need to request a while with the pc in particular person to test issues out for your self.

With on-line gross sales, that is typically not attainable. In these situations, you’ll want to use the standard safeguards you’d bear in mind with any peer-to-peer buy. Examine into the vendor’s historical past and guarantee they’ve good suggestions on an account that’s ideally at the very least just a few years outdated. Use a fee processor like PayPal which affords purchaser safety so you may pull the set off if issues don’t prove the way you count on.

However if you happen to’re shopping for a Mac “IRL” then you’ve fewer protections. Most in-person gross sales happen utilizing money or fee apps that supply no safety, and legal guidelines that shield customers don’t normally apply. It’s a “purchaser beware” scenario the place it’s worthwhile to make certain the merchandise you might be shopping for is match on the market earlier than you hand over any cash. When you have any doubts, stroll away.

There are some pink flags you need to look out for when making such a second-hand buy, together with:

  • Does the sale appear too good to be true?
  • Ought to the merchandise be priced a lot increased?
  • Will the vendor allow you to totally examine the merchandise before you purchase?
  • Is the vendor solely keen to satisfy in an remoted location after darkish?
  • Is money the one fee that the vendor is accepting?

You most likely wouldn’t purchase a automobile with out a chance to see below the bonnet and kick the tires first. Most would insist on a take a look at drive on the very least, even with the vendor within the passenger seat. Shopping for a pc isn’t any totally different. You must both meet on the vendor’s home or in a public place the place you may’t be taken benefit of. You must have time to examine the pc totally before you purchase it.

When you’re shopping for a desktop Mac your choices for an inspection are a bit extra restricted, however you need to nonetheless fulfill the essential standards.

RELATED: The right way to See What One thing Is Price Utilizing eBay

Does the Mac Boot?

It looks as if an apparent level, however the Mac ought to on the very least boot. You must see a startup display screen adopted by macOS. You may see a log-on display screen or the “Good day” splash that seems when macOS is freshly put in.

macOS login

Stroll away if the vendor insists that “the battery is useless” and received’t present the machine booting. If the machine powers on however reveals an error or received’t boot totally into macOS, that might point out a {hardware} drawback. You don’t essentially want to listen to the “Mac noise” when turning the pc on, since Apple dropped that from most of the machines made prior to now ten years (although it’s again within the Apple Silicon fashions).

Is the Mac Nonetheless Linked to the Previous Proprietor?

If the Mac boots you’re both going to see “Good day” to point that macOS has been reinstalled, otherwise you’ll see a login window with the account holder’s identify. When you see a login window, remember that the Mac remains to be possible linked to the outdated proprietor. Which means macOS Activation Lock is probably going nonetheless enabled.

Activation Lock is designed to cease somebody from utilizing a Mac that has been stolen or misplaced. It can have to be eliminated earlier than the sale is made. The vendor can take away this function below System Preferences > Apple ID then by clicking iCloud within the sidebar and unchecking “Discover My Mac” from the checklist.

Find My Mac

The vendor might want to enter their Apple ID password to take away the function. If they can’t full this, it might imply that the Mac has been stolen. By no means purchase a Mac that also has “Discover My Mac” enabled. You must totally take a look at the machine first, then insist on this being eliminated earlier than you full the acquisition.

Testing a Mac That’s Been Manufacturing facility Reset

When you see the “Good day” display screen moderately than a login window, the Mac has been reset to an “as-new” state by the proprietor. On the one hand, that is good because it means Activation Lock has been disabled, whereas on the opposite it presents some issues for testing the machine.

macOS Monterey "Hello" startup screen

Since you will have to run just a few exams on the machine to make sure all the pieces is working, one workaround is to inform the vendor to arrange the Mac for you. Get them so as to add a dummy account to the pc so as to run your exams, then earlier than you make the sale reset the Mac once more or at the very least guarantee Activation Lock (above) isn’t enabled.

In the event that they aren’t in a position to create an account on account of Activation Lock already being enabled, or the Mac presents a “Misplaced Mode” error then you need to stroll away. A real vendor will perceive that it’s worthwhile to see the Mac in totally working order.

Is the Mac Enrolled in a Gadget Administration Program?

Companies and academic institutions typically purchase Macs wholesale from Apple, and use a tool administration program referred to as Automated Gadget Enrollment (ADE)—beforehand referred to as Gadget Enrollment Program (DEP)—to handle units. This will current all types of issues, for the reason that program is linked to the Mac’s serial quantity.

On setup of macOS, the Setup Assistant will test the machine’s enrollment standing and obtain any configurations that exist. This will cease an end-user from utilizing the Mac in any respect because it requires the unique proprietor’s intervention to take away the profile from the system for use as a “regular” Mac.

You’ll be able to test a tool’s ADE/DEP enrolment standing utilizing a Terminal command, however you’ll want admin entry (so the proprietor might want to enter the admin password for the command to run). Open Terminal and kind:

sudo profiles present -type enrollment

When you see “null” or an error like “Consumer will not be DEP enabled.” then the machine is probably going not enrolled. This implies it’s most likely not stolen from a earlier employer or college.

macOS check for ADE/DEP with Terminal

Bear in mind that there are some methods of stopping macOS from checking for DEP/ADE standing on setup, so there’s a small quantity of danger assumed when shopping for any Mac.

How Does it Run?

You must spend a while with the Mac to see the way it runs. Check out just a few frequent workflows like opening Safari and visiting some web sites, searching the Mac App Retailer, checking processes in Exercise Monitor, and trying to find objects in Highlight. You may as well take this chance to ensure video and audio performs again easily, which may even affirm that the audio system are in working order.

An older Mac that hasn’t been formatted just lately could have lots of bloat operating within the background that will have an effect on efficiency, however issues ought to nonetheless tick alongside with out many issues. Net pages that scroll or carry out poorly, freezes and stutters, and the machine producing numerous warmth could point out that issues aren’t all they appear.

Extreme warmth might be brought on by mud build-up within the machine and if you happen to’re joyful to clear a MacBook out for your self then you might need to take the chance. That is one thing you’ll need to “really feel out” by hand, however it stands to cause {that a} MacBook shouldn’t be too sizzling to the touch or blaring the followers whereas idle or below little or no load.

Bear in mind that older Intel Macs could run a lot hotter than newer Apple Silicon fashions with an M1 or related processor. A Mac with an Apple Silicon processor ought to stay cool and quiet even below a medium load.

RELATED: Intel Macs vs. Apple Silicon ARM Macs: Which Ought to You Purchase?

Are the Keyboard and Trackpad in Good Order?

When you’re shopping for a MacBook or desktop Mac that features peripherals, take a look at the keyboard totally and ensure all the pieces feels and behaves because it ought to. Make sure that all the keys work, together with the ability button and fingerprint sensor if current. When you’re shopping for a MacBook Professional with a Contact Bar, make sure that it registers contact inputs and reveals contextual controls for no matter app you’re utilizing.

That is particularly essential on MacBooks made between 2015 and 2020, which used Apple’s dreaded “Butterfly” keyboard for which there’s an official service program now in place. Whereas Apple will restore any issues totally free, you need to nonetheless draw any points to the vendor’s consideration since it will have an effect on the worth of the machine.

Don’t overlook to check trackpads and mice too. Older trackpads with bodily transferring elements are extra susceptible to points than the newer “Power Contact” fashions which simulate the “click on” utilizing haptics. On a MacBook changing the trackpad can typically be very troublesome with out changing different far more costly elements contained in the machine.

Do the Ports All Work?

Apparent harm to ports ought to ring alarm bells, and if you happen to can you need to take a look at these ports. Desktop fashions just like the Mac mini could have to be attached through HDMI so guarantee that the show output works as anticipated. Most MacBooks launched within the final 5 or so years will solely have USB-C (Thunderbolt) ports, so preserve this in thoughts if you wish to deliver a flash drive or USB cable for this function.

USB-C to USB-C Cable (Apple)

Does the Show Have Useless Pixels or Different Issues?

No one likes useless pixels, however many shows endure from them in time. The older the show, the extra possible you’ll have caught or useless pixels. Typically these pixels are situated in areas that you just’ll barely discover, and different instances they’re in the course of the display screen the place you’re wanting 90% of the time.

The one option to inform is to stand up shut and private and use a web site like Make the online browser full display screen and cycle via the varied colours obtainable. It’s possible you’ll not reject a sale purely because of the presence of useless pixels, however it could provide you with some leverage to get the vendor to decrease the worth.

What Situation Is the Battery In?

When you’re shopping for a MacBook that you just’re planning to make use of on battery energy, understanding the situation of the battery could also be essential. Be taught easy methods to test the battery situation of a MacBook earlier than you arrive. The older the machine the extra cycles the battery is more likely to have on it, and the more serious the efficiency.

macOS System Report

Like useless pixels, this will likely not make or break your buy however if you wish to exchange the battery within the MacBook you need to issue this worth into the sale.

Does It Come With a Charger?

When you’re shopping for a MacBook you need to count on to see a first-party, Apple-branded charger. These have the Apple brand recessed into the aspect and are available within the firm’s signature white. Third-party chargers aren’t totally ineffective, however they’re considerably cheaper than Apple’s choices.

MagSafe 3 MacBook Pro charger
Tim Brookes

Be very cautious of any sellers that don’t embody the charger within the sale. This will likely counsel that the machine has been stolen, and it could restrict your capacity to conduct exams on the machine. Like a battery substitute, you need to think about the price of a charger if you happen to’re contemplating shopping for a machine that doesn’t embody a charger.

Lastly, Contemplate Operating Apple Diagnostics

Apple Diagnostics is a built-in utility that Apple consists of with its computer systems to check for any {hardware} errors that could be current. The function doesn’t present significantly detailed suggestions, however it does typically flag a number of the extra frequent points.

Be taught easy methods to run Apple Diagnostics on a Mac before you purchase it.

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