5 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Refurbished Mac

5 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Refurbished Mac

We’re so used to recycling everything that we now buy used items we never used to consider purchasing. Perhaps the demand for recycling our waste plastics and paper and the number of thrift stores has changed the culture. That’s a good thing, but do you need to consider a used laptop when they’re so cheap to purchase new? Laptops and Macs aren’t so expensive that you’re forced to buy used computers, but your money will go further if you invest in a refurbished machine. That’s especially true for Macs, which you’ll need at least $1,000 to purchase new.

Content guide


There’s always a risk when you buy a used product. In most cases, you won’t have the manufacturer’s warranty cover if major components fail. In many cases, you won’t be able to take it back to the seller if it fails. If you buy a used Mac on eBay, what’s the chance you’ll be able to send it back to the seller when it breaks? You don’t need a high feedback rating to know the answer to that. Buying a refurbished machine isn’t the same story. You could purchase a refurbished Mac on a site like Amazon and expect the same level of service as you’d get when buying new. Let’s face it, you’ll be spending hundreds of dollars, so you should expect the option to pay installments and have some form of warranty to fall back on. With the more reputable sites, you’ll also have customer feedback to read, and you’ll be able to give your verdict once you’ve taken delivery.

mac refurbished


There comes a time in the life of every Mac when Apple stop supporting it. Once that happens, you won’t be able to download OS updates or security patches. To avoid this, buy a Mac with an obsolescence date as far in the future as possible. The rule of thumb here is not to buy a Mac that’s more than three years old. Apple usually supports their machines for six years. You also need to be aware that Apple is moving away from Intel processors in favor of their own silicon. That means your used Mac may become obsolete sooner than expected.


If you go ahead and purchase from a private seller, make sure they provide all of the important spec information before you send your money. In particular, you need to know the model year for the reasons we’ve already mentioned. No reputable seller will balk at the request for a screenshot of the “About this Mac” page, accessed from the Apple menu. That’s where you’ll find the model and serial number, along with information on the RAM and the version of OS installed.


The previous owner may have set up a firmware password. This is something you won’t normally consider unless you’ve come across this situation before. If you have found yourself needing to troubleshoot or recovery the machine through the USB port and it won’t boot without a password, you’ll know how important it is to see the password ahead of your purchase. To find out, start the device and hold the Option key down. If the machine needs a password, you’ll be prompted for one.

mac refurbished


If you buy a pre-owned car, you’ll take it for a test drive. You need to do the same with any used gadgets you buy. There are some very simple tests you can carry out to make sure everything’s working as expected.

The first thing to test is the start-up. Does the machine boot up without any issues? Can you boot it from both AC and battery power?

Check the ports. Do they all work? Using a USB flashdrive, make sure all the ports respond as they should.

Check the keyboard. Open a window and test all the keys to make sure they work as expected.

Check the screen’s condition. You’ll naturally check this by eye, but you should also run a dead-pixel checker tool. A few bad pixels are not unusual.

Check the battery’s charge. Is the battery holding its charge? You can check the battery’s health through the Mac. Click the Apple menu and then hold the Option key while you choose “System Information.” Then click “Power” in the navigation pane and check “Health Information.”

Final Word

If you decide to buy a used machine rather than a refurbished Mac, you should perform a factory reset to clear it of anything the previous owner failed to remove. There might be malware on the device that the old owner wasn’t aware of. It’s also a nice experience to boot the machine up and have the set-up screens.

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