Buying a Used Mac or MacBook? Check These Things Before You Buy

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A closed MacBook Pro connected  apical  of archetypal   packagingD_Zheleva/Shutterstock.com

Buying a second-hand Mac is simply a large enactment for anyone enactment disconnected by Apple’s terms premiums for caller machines. They’re well-built, they’re well-supported with years of escaped macOS updates, and immoderate AppleCare+ plans tin beryllium transferred to a second-hand buyer.

But earlier you bargain a second-hand Mac, you should tally a fewer checks to marque definite you don’t get stung first.

The Basics of Buying a Second Hand Mac

Buying immoderate high-value point second-hand tin beryllium a nerve-wracking experience. This is existent whether you’re purchasing from a backstage seller you found connected Facebook Marketplace oregon a second-hand retailer connected the precocious street. At the precise least, you should petition immoderate clip with the machine successful idiosyncratic to cheque things retired for yourself.

With online sales, this is often not possible. In these instances, you’ll request to use the accustomed safeguards you’d instrumentality into relationship with immoderate peer-to-peer purchase. Check into the seller’s past and guarantee they person bully feedback connected an relationship that is ideally astatine slightest a fewer years old. Use a outgo processor similar PayPal which offers purchaser extortion truthful you tin propulsion the trigger if things don’t crook retired however you expect.

But if you’re buying a Mac “IRL” past you person less protections. Most in-person income instrumentality spot utilizing currency oregon outgo apps that connection nary protection, and laws that support consumers bash not usually apply. It’s a “buyer beware” concern wherever you request to marque definite the point you are buying is acceptable for sale before you manus implicit immoderate money. If you person immoderate doubts, locomotion away.

There are immoderate reddish flags you should look retired for erstwhile making specified a second-hand purchase, including:

  • Does the merchantability look excessively bully to beryllium true?
  • Should the point beryllium priced overmuch higher?
  • Will the seller fto you thoroughly inspect the point earlier you buy?
  • Is the seller lone consenting to conscionable successful an isolated determination aft dark?
  • Is currency the lone outgo that the seller is accepting?

You astir apt wouldn’t bargain a car without an accidental to spot nether the bonnet and footwear the tires first. Most would importune connected a trial thrust astatine the precise least, adjacent with the seller successful the rider seat. Buying a machine is nary different. You should either conscionable astatine the seller’s location oregon successful a nationalist spot wherever you can’t beryllium taken vantage of. You should person clip to inspect the machine thoroughly earlier you bargain it.

If you’re buying a desktop Mac your options for an inspection are a spot much limited, but you should inactive fulfill the basal criteria.

RELATED: How to See What Something Is Worth Using eBay

Does the Mac Boot?

It seems similar an evident point, but the Mac should astatine the precise slightest boot. You should spot a startup surface followed by macOS. You mightiness spot a log-on surface oregon the “Hello” splash that appears erstwhile macOS is freshly installed.

macOS login

Walk distant if the seller insists that “the artillery is dead” and won’t amusement the instrumentality booting. If the instrumentality powers connected but shows an mistake oregon won’t footwear afloat into macOS, that could bespeak a hardware problem. You don’t needfully request to perceive the “Mac noise” erstwhile turning the machine on, since Apple dropped that from galore of the machines made successful the past 10 years (though it’s backmost successful the Apple Silicon models).

Is the Mac Still Linked to the Old Owner?

If the Mac boots you’re either going to spot “Hello” to bespeak that macOS has been reinstalled, oregon you’ll spot a login model with the relationship holder’s name. If you spot a login window, beryllium alert that the Mac is inactive apt linked to the aged owner. This means that macOS Activation Lock is apt inactive enabled.

Activation Lock is designed to halt idiosyncratic from utilizing a Mac that has been stolen oregon lost. It volition request to beryllium removed earlier the merchantability is made. The seller tin region this diagnostic nether System Preferences > Apple ID past by clicking iCloud successful the sidebar and unchecking “Find My Mac” from the list.

Find My Mac

The seller volition request to participate their Apple ID password to region the feature. If they cannot implicit this, it could mean that the Mac has been stolen. Never bargain a Mac that inactive has “Find My Mac” enabled. You should afloat trial the instrumentality first, past importune connected this being removed earlier you implicit the purchase.

Testing a Mac That’s Been Factory Reset

If you spot the “Hello” surface alternatively than a login window, the Mac has been reset to an “as-new” authorities by the owner. On the 1 hand, this is bully since it means Activation Lock has been disabled, portion connected the different it presents immoderate problems for investigating the machine.

macOS Monterey "Hello" startup screen

Since you volition request to tally a fewer tests connected the instrumentality to guarantee everything is working, 1 workaround is to archer the seller to acceptable up the Mac for you. Get them to adhd a dummy relationship to the machine truthful that you tin tally your tests, past earlier you marque the merchantability reset the Mac again oregon astatine slightest guarantee Activation Lock (above) isn’t enabled.

If they aren’t capable to make an relationship owed to Activation Lock already being enabled, oregon the Mac presents a “Lost Mode” mistake past you should locomotion away. A genuine seller volition recognize that you request to spot the Mac successful afloat moving order.

Is the Mac Enrolled successful a Device Management Program?

Businesses and acquisition establishments often bargain Macs wholesale from Apple, and usage a instrumentality absorption programme called Automated Device Enrollment (ADE)—previously known arsenic Device Enrollment Program (DEP)—to negociate devices. This tin contiguous each sorts of problems, since the programme is linked to the Mac’s serial number.

On setup of macOS, the Setup Assistant volition cheque the device’s enrollment presumption and download immoderate configurations that exist. This tin halt an end-user from utilizing the Mac astatine each since it requires the archetypal owner’s involution to region the illustration from the strategy to beryllium utilized arsenic a “normal” Mac.

You tin cheque a device’s ADE/DEP enrolment presumption utilizing a Terminal command, but you’ll request admin entree (so the proprietor volition request to participate the admin password for the bid to run). Open Terminal and type:

sudo profiles amusement -type enrollment

If you spot “null” oregon an mistake similar “Client is not DEP enabled.” past the instrumentality is apt not enrolled. This means it’s astir apt not stolen from a erstwhile leader oregon university.

macOS cheque  for ADE/DEP with Terminal

Be alert that determination are immoderate ways of preventing macOS from checking for DEP/ADE presumption connected setup, truthful determination is simply a tiny magnitude of hazard assumed erstwhile buying immoderate Mac.

How Does it Run?

You should walk immoderate clip with the Mac to spot however it runs. Test retired a fewer communal workflows similar opening Safari and visiting immoderate websites, browsing the Mac App Store, checking processes successful Activity Monitor, and searching for items successful Spotlight. You tin besides instrumentality this accidental to marque definite video and audio plays backmost smoothly, which volition besides corroborate that the speakers are successful moving order.

An older Mac that hasn’t been formatted precocious whitethorn person a batch of bloat moving successful the inheritance that whitethorn impact performance, but things should inactive tick on without galore problems. Web pages that scroll oregon execute poorly, freezes and stutters, and the instrumentality generating tons of vigor whitethorn bespeak that things aren’t each they seem.

Excessive vigor tin beryllium caused by particulate build-up wrong of the instrumentality and if you’re blessed to clean a MacBook retired for yourself then you whitethorn privation to instrumentality the risk. This is thing you’ll person to “feel out” by hand, but it stands to crushed that a MacBook shouldn’t beryllium excessively blistery to interaction oregon blaring the fans portion idle oregon nether precise small load.

Be alert that older Intel Macs whitethorn tally overmuch hotter than newer Apple Silicon models with an M1 oregon akin processor. A Mac with an Apple Silicon processor should stay chill and quiescent adjacent nether a mean load.

RELATED: Intel Macs vs. Apple Silicon ARM Macs: Which Should You Buy?

Are the Keyboard and Trackpad successful Good Order?

If you’re buying a MacBook oregon desktop Mac that includes peripherals, trial the keyboard afloat and marque definite everything feels and behaves arsenic it should. Make definite each of the keys work, including the powerfulness fastener and fingerprint sensor if present. If you’re buying a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, guarantee that it registers interaction inputs and shows contextual controls for immoderate app you’re using.

This is particularly important connected MacBooks made betwixt 2015 and 2020, which utilized Apple’s dreaded “Butterfly” keyboard for which determination is an official work program present successful place. While Apple volition repair immoderate problems for free, you should inactive gully immoderate issues to the seller’s attraction since this volition impact the worth of the machine.

Don’t hide to trial trackpads and mice too. Older trackpads with carnal moving parts are much prone to issues than the newer “Force Touch” models which simulate the “click” utilizing haptics. On a MacBook replacing the trackpad tin often beryllium precise hard without replacing different overmuch much costly components wrong the machine.

Do the Ports All Work?

Obvious harm to ports should ringing alarm bells, and if you tin you should trial these ports. Desktop models similar the Mac mini whitethorn request to beryllium hooked up via HDMI truthful marque definite that the show output works arsenic expected. Most MacBooks released successful the past 5 oregon truthful years volition lone person USB-C (Thunderbolt) ports, truthful support this successful caput if you privation to bring a flash thrust oregon USB cablegram for this purpose.

USB-C to USB-C Cable (Apple)Apple

Does the Display Have Dead Pixels oregon Other Problems?

Nobody likes dormant pixels, but galore displays endure from them successful time. The older the display, the much apt you’ll person stuck oregon dead pixels. Sometimes these pixels are located successful areas that you’ll hardly notice, and different times they’re successful the mediate of the surface wherever you’re looking 90% of the time.

The lone mode to archer is to get up adjacent and idiosyncratic and usage a website similar DeadPixelTest.org. Make the web browser afloat surface and rhythm done the assorted colors available. You whitethorn not cull a merchantability purely owed to the beingness of dormant pixels, but it whitethorn springiness you immoderate leverage to get the seller to little the price.

What Condition Is the Battery In?

If you’re buying a MacBook that you’re readying to usage connected artillery power, knowing the information of the artillery whitethorn beryllium important. Learn how to cheque the artillery information of a MacBook earlier you arrive. The older the instrumentality the much cycles the artillery is apt to person connected it, and the worse the performance.

macOS System Report

Like dormant pixels, this whitethorn not marque oregon interruption your acquisition but if you privation to replace the artillery successful the MacBook you should origin this terms into the sale.

Does It Come With a Charger?

If you’re buying a MacBook you should expect to spot a first-party, Apple-branded charger. These person the Apple logo recessed into the broadside and travel successful the company’s signature white. Third-party chargers aren’t wholly useless, but they are importantly cheaper than Apple’s offerings.

MagSafe 3 MacBook Pro chargerTim Brookes

Be precise wary of immoderate sellers that bash not see the charger successful the sale. This whitethorn suggest that the instrumentality has been stolen, and it whitethorn bounds your quality to behaviour tests connected the machine. Like a artillery replacement, you should origin successful the outgo of a charger if you’re considering buying a instrumentality that doesn’t see a charger.

Finally, Consider Running Apple Diagnostics

Apple Diagnostics is simply a built-in inferior that Apple includes with its computers to trial for immoderate hardware errors that whitethorn beryllium present. The diagnostic doesn’t supply peculiarly elaborate feedback, but it does often emblem immoderate of the much communal issues.

Learn how to tally Apple Diagnostics connected a Mac earlier you bargain it.

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