It’s a new year, and as such, I wanted a fresh start. Over the past few months I had become increasingly frustrated with the sluggishness of my MacBook Pro. My laziness over the summer left me behind on OS X Yosemite betas – and the smoothness and flow of the SSD on my work machine was absolutely in terror.

I took this weekend to wipe the slate clean on my MacBook Pro, and it was such a liberating feeling. Not only did I rid of files and applications that I absolutely never used or would need again, but I brought back the speed my Mac once had. As such, I challenge you to take back your Mac this weekend.

It’s actually easy to do. If you’re like me you’ll get anxiety about losing files, but don’t worry. I left my external hard drive in my dorm room back at college with my Mac Mini, so I had to resort to some crafty measures.

I’m not a subscriber to Carbonite (I will be now), an online service that will allow you to backup all of your files to the cloud for $10/month. So for this little project, I signed up for a free no-commitment trial to backup all of my files. The trial won’t allow you to backup music and movie files, but I use Spotify so that didn’t really matter.

I downloaded the Carbonite Mac app, and backed up all the important stuff like my documents and what was left on my desktop. Now that everything is in order, it’s time to erase your hard drive and start fresh with a clean install of Yosemite. Don’t come back mad at me if you lose an important file. Please make sure everything is backed up somewhere, maybe multiple places for the important stuff.


That being said, pull up the following directions on your iPhone and shut ‘er down.

  1. Make sure you’re Mac is connected to the Internet. Since modern Macs don’t have a disc drive, OS X will pull the files from the magical cloud.
  2. Turn your Mac back on while holding down the Command and R keys.
  3. Select Disk Utility, then click Continue.
  4. Select your startup disk on the left, then click the Erase tab.
  5. Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled) from the Format menu, enter a name, then click Erase.
  6. After the disk is erased, choose Disk Utility > Quit Disk Utility.
  7. Select Reinstall OS X, click Continue, then follow the onscreen instructions.

For some reason I had to install OS X Mountain Lion first – that’s what Apple decided to pull down from the Internet for me – and then install OS X Yosemite from the App Store through Mountain Lion. The Yosemite install was seamless – Apple’s really gotten this down.


Once a fresh version of Yosemite is installed, I suggest you take advantage of its features before installing anything else. Make sure you have all your iCloud, iCloud Keychain, Mail, Back to Mac, Find My Mac, and other settings in place, before installing third-party apps.

You’ll then want to go back to Carbonite’s website, where you don’t even have to install the Carbonite app back on your Mac to grab your files. Carbonite simply puts them in a .zip folder, where you can then drag them into the correct folder – nice and organized.

Now wasn’t that easy? Now you have a fresh install of Yosemite, with updated apps, and your important files.

My goal this year is to keep my software updated and not have to run into this problem anytime soon.

Do this on your lazy Sunday. You’ll thank me later.

Looking for a a quick way to get up to speed on all of OS X Yosemite’s most outstanding features? Our OS X Yosemite Interactive Starter Guide is a visual tool to help you become quickly acclimated with some of Yosemite’s most notable new additions, improvements, and changes.

  • Andrew

    You installed Mountain Lion because the “Reinstall Mac OS X” option reinstalls the version of OS X that your mac came with.

    • Juschan

      no on my macbook air even in beta times of yosemite i could only set back to yosemite

    • 53kyle

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure the Internet recovery installs the version your Mac came with. If you use the recovery partition, however, you can install whatever version you were already running…at least if you updated recovery HD.

  • Joaquim Nascimento

    I do that every month! Cleaning all the unnecessary stuff I put on my Mac.

  • Annie Leonhardt

    Yeah… I do this every month. Regardless of the performance of my machine at the time. I just have some obsession with fresh starts. Not only do I restore my PC and Mac, I restore all my electronics. lol.

    • Kyle McNulty – Mclovin341

      That’s a little bit too far :p but guess if you have the time why not

      • Annie Leonhardt

        Well, my PC is pretty specked out. For a full re-install (with applications) will take me around 10 – 15 minutes from start to finish. (I created an Windows image containing a fresh install with certain applications I used)

        My Mac re-installs at blazing speeds.

        iOS and other devices take less than 10 minutes to wipe — and only a few minutes to re-sync with the apps and content I want on the devices.

        😀 luckily today is restore day! Don’t you like the feeling of a stock device. Make you feel like the device is brand new!

      • Jeff Chow

        That’s pretty amazing you do it every month! Do you restore everything (settings, applications & files) back to the way it was with migration assistant on your Mac?

        Chrome is having issues on my computer, and I’m not sure what I need to not restore so I don’t copy that bug over to my newly cleaned system!

  • blastingbigairs

    I did this is Decemeber after installing a new SSD on my 2009 iMac, it screams now!!!

  • It’s a new year, and as such, I wanted a fresh start

    Uhm, you proudly do this every year on a Mac? Very odd…some people were saying this was one if the reasons they switched from Windows to Mac…oh well, I’ve never restored my Windows PC unless moving from one OS to another.

    Over the past few months I had become increasingly frustrated with the sluggishness of my MacBook Pro


    • Dean Johnson

      What is the point of this comment?

      • What is the point of your response?

      • Dean Johnson

        I was wondering why you posted that, since it wasn’t really clear what it’s purpose was. Trying to hate? Trying to inform us?

      • Andrew

        Don’t put periods trying to be serious when you don’t know the difference between it’s and its, thank you.

      • Slifur

        He hates apple. Deal with it.

    • ✯Mike✯

      Bro, the point is to clean up old cache and files that were created during installs of old applications, etc. It’s a process that is good even for windows machines as well. It speeds up boot-up speeds, loading speeds, rendering, etc.. I’m not sure why you come on iDownloadblog just to troll us, but we’re obviously very happy with our machines, but we just like a refresh. It makes it feel like you just got a new computer again.

      • My point is that some were claiming here on iDB that this is a disadvantage of Windows (having to restore every year), yet I come across this online post of a Mac user proudly doing it on a yearly basis, some even on a monthly basis. Why do you get butt-hurt over such simple fact when you weren’t one of the hypocrites making such claim? Or were you?

        FYI, cleaning off cache and those old applications doesn’t require wasting time installing the OS all over again. That’s easily accomplished with a tool like Revo Uninstaller Pro (not sure of a Mac version). Also, to avoid reducing boot speed, simply disable or delay the automatic start-up of applications. Been doing that with my Windows PC and it’s always been performing good as new with boot speed of 8 seconds or less, and applications always start-up fast.

      • xSeriouSx

        Save yourself the effort man, you’re wasting your time trying to reason with them. You could keep trying till your face turns hot red, iSheeps will always get butthurt over the smallest criticism, be it to Apple or to other hypocrites in their herd…if you’re no mindless follower like them, then you hate Apple, that’s the rules of the iReligion.

      • Buzz { Light:Year; }

        Or you can just learn to take care of your pc and not install shit you don’t need and I’m right there with the comment he made people think mass are fast and shit really they aren’t and let’s be honest pc could smash a Mac because you can put what ever hardware you want on it and aren’t limited to what the company wants

      • I have a Macbook Pro and I understand what you’re trying to say. Windows isn’t nearly as bad as Apple fans says it is.

    • Annie Leonhardt

      This guy again. 😉

      Any PC get sluggish depending on the specs… There are plenty of Macs that are sluggish. My sister has a Macbook Pro i5 4gb ram (HDD) not flash storage. I have a Macbook Air i7 8gb ram ;D … her computer is “extremely” sluggish compared to mine.

      Depends on the applications the user is running and a vast amount of other things that will determine the sluggishness. I have 8GB ram and only 3.59GB on average available with few things open, such as, mail, browser, and a light weight photo editor (Sketch 3). So, if my Mac is using up almost 8 gigs with few things open. You can only imagine what’s happening to the thousands with only 4gb of ram. lol…

      If you’re running heavy editing software and a whole bunch of other crap, I can see a Macbook Pro with 16GB being sluggish as well.

      But, this is with any PC…

      A Mac is not slowing down just because of “casual use” like a typical Windows PC… where the lifetime of the machine effects its performance. It will run just like day 1 many years later. Sluggishness is dependent on what you’re doing with it.

      • Slifur

        He doesn’t get that. Cos all he wants to point out is about our macs getting slow, while his pc doesn’t slow down like mac.

    • It’s honestly not that interesting. When playing with beta software sometimes things stay broke or bloat stays behind even after the software enters stability…

  • Buzz { Light:Year; }

    PC master Race.

    • PC Microsoft master Race

      FTFY 😉

    • Andrew

      Get a Mac.

  • YukonJack

    I’m a bit curious about a few things. I can see erasing and reinstalling a fresh os install but then you bring back everthing from your Carbonite cloud backup.

    1. Why didn’t you get an external hdd, back up to it, then use Migration Assistant to copy your user account, apps, all the associated prefs files and those document files over to the fresh install?

    2. You mention that you now have a fresh install with updated apps. Did you download and install all the apps you normally use, and go through the setup process for all of them?

    My advice to anyone wanting to do some spring cleaning would be to:

    1. Use SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner and back up your entire system to an external hdd.

    2. Get an app like iTrash that will delete supporting files, plists and such, then delete your unused apps one at a time. This will clean up a lot of stuff that you’re not using.

    3. Get an app that will do some deep cleaning (NOT Mac Keeper!) Yosemite Cache Cleaner and set it to clean out caches, old prefs, crash logs, whatever. This will also clear a bunch of clutter.

    4. Get a duplicate file finder and run it. You will probably find multiple copies of photos, songs, documents and stuff that you can safely delete.

    There may be more thing but all of the above will pare down the unused crap that builds up before you do a clean install.

    One last thing: you do have your app serial numbers or license keys stored somewhere, right? You’re going to need them when you begin reinstalling your important apps. After the clean install, just copy your “must have” apps to your clean Application folder. In the future, if you need another app that you used to have, just copy it from your backup.

  • Thank you Andrew you beat me to it. Recovery will always reinstall the version of OS X the shipped with your Mac. However this is superseded when upgrading to versions higher than 10.8

  • Martin

    I have a question regarding a restore. The only thing keeping me from starting fresh with Yosemite is that I use 1Password. I backup to the cloud with 1Password and I backup my machine using an external drive. If I reinstall Yosemite, will my 1Password data be intact when I reinstall 1PW? I mean, I know it will because its in the cloud, but I just need reassurance.

    • sunfire7

      Yes, your vault will be in icloud, but a local backup never hurts 🙂

  • 9to5Slavery

    Use copy app.

  • Harry Choi

    grammar error:
    Make sure you’re Mac is connected to the Internet.
    should be
    Make sure your mac is connected to the Internet.

  • I would do this [and really should do this] but since I tripple boot my MacBook with Yosemite, Windows 8 and Ubuntu I don’t want to re-install anything in fear that one of the other operating systems will stop working…