How to Delete Old User Account on Mac without Reinstall it

The Mac word refers to all Apple computer series either mobile (Macbook Pro and Macbook Air) or desktop (iMac, Mac mini and Mac pro). Apple releases a new Mac in the cycle, usually two times per year in average or at least one model per year. You probably heard about Macbook Pro early 2011 and Macbook Pro late 2011 in the same year. Nevertheless, this cycle is not always the same, and it is not always as fast. For instance, from Mac mini that was launched in late 2012, then there was a jump to Mac mini, that was launched in late 2014. For this reason, some of Mac users sold their Mac or gave it away and replace it with a newer model.

Sometimes, users want to give their old make to someone else, because they want to purchase a brand-new one. You want to erase everything, and prepare the machine for its new user. The first thing that will cross your mind is to format and reinstall your Mac, which is a good idea. However, maybe you want to give your old Mac to your kid, and you want to erase the data, but you want to keep the applications that have been installed. The question is: Is there any other option besides the format or reinstall so that we can keep the applications on our old Mac?

Actually, there is a method to erase our data and settings without format and reinstall, so we can keep our applications alive. This method seems so easy, but I was surprised that a lot of Mac users didn’t know about it. Before we step up to discuss about this method further, I want to talk about Home Folder in Mac Operating System which is necessary (I will not make it complicated. I promise)

In the Mac Operating system called OS X, maybe you know something about the Home Folder that can be accessed through: Finder>>Go>>Home

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One user account in OS X has one Home Folder, if there are 2 user accounts, there will be 2 different Home Folders, each belong to those user accounts separately. By default, inside Home Folder there are 7 folders: Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Movies, Musics, Pictures and Public, plus 1 hidden folder: Library. Home Folder cannot be deleted if the user account is online or active. Only the user with administrator permission can delete a Home Folder.

Home Folder is a place where all the data are stored and mostly used by users for this purpose, and there is also Library folder as a place to store all settings and other components related to that user account.

From here we can come to the conclusion that:

  1. If we want to delete data and all about us on that Mac, we need to delete our Home Folder.
  2. If we want to give our Mac to someone else, we need a new user account for them.

All we can do is deleting the user account and the Home folder, and then create a new user account. This conclusion is almost correct, but we have to remember that Home Folder cannot be deleted if the owner of the user account is online or active, and this action can only be performed by a user account with administration permission. So, we have to create a new account with administrator permission first. Then, we can delete the Home folder in the new account.

The Steps

1. Launch System Preferences >> Users and Groups. Click padlock sign (1) on the bottom left corner if it’s still locked and you’ll be asked for your admin password Mac, then click plus sign (2)

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2. Next window on New Account (1) choose Administrator and fill in Full Name and Account Name. At the Password section (2) choose using iCloud password or different password then click Create User. You’ve just created a new user account.

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  1. Log out from your active/online user account that we are going to delete, then log in to your new account.
  2. On that new account, launch System Preferences>> User and Groups. Click padlock sign (1)at the bottom left corner if it’s still locked and you’ll be asked your admin Mac password. Choose account that you’re going to delete (3) then click minus sign (2).

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Choose Delete the home folder, if you want your data not to be recovered, check the checkbox Erase home folder securely (1) then click Delete User.

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Done. Your old Mac will still have installed applications and your data has been deleted and ready for someone else.