When Apple added Find My to macOS and then, soon after, used hardware features to pair it with Activation Lock, your Mac didn’t become less vulnerable to theft, but it became less valuable (if not worthless) to criminals. Activation Lock prevents your Mac from being easily erased so that someone else can use it again, unless the person performing the erase has the person’s Apple ID password. With FileVault enabled, your Mac cannot be hacked or reused. (Note that there is a loophole here: if someone steals your iPhone or iPad password, they can reset your Apple ID password, as explained in this disturbing Wall Street Journal article.)
In fact, Activation Lock works so well that there is a huge e-waste problem that has arisen from fully functioning Macs, as documented by iFixIt and others.
When you’re doing a major system operation on your Mac, it might make you wonder if you create a new account and delete an account with Find My enabled, or completely wipe your Mac, you’re potentially putting Activation Lock in a situation where you cannot regain access. This shouldn’t happen, but you can alleviate issues by disabling Find My before continuing (assuming your Mac isn’t locked up and needs to be wiped and restored to get back to full working order).
Here’s how to disable the Find My feature in macOS Monterey and earlier:
- Go to > System settings > Apple ID > iCloud (or > System settings > iCloud on older systems).
- Uncheck find my box.
- Enter your Apple ID password when prompted.
On macOS Ventura (or later):
- Choose > System Preferences > account name > iCloud and click Show All.
- Click Find my Mac.
- Click turn off next to the Find My Mac button.
- Enter your Apple ID password and click Continue.
- You may also be prompted to enter your account password.
When to turn off Find My:
- Before creating a new account, you intend to become your primary account. The primary account is the one you usually sign in to on your Mac. You especially want to disable Find My for an account if you then plan on deleting that old account. Turn off Find My when you sign in to your old account, and then turn it on for your new account. (You can’t turn on Find My for more than one macOS account on your computer at the same time.)
- Before erasing your Mac, reinstall it from scratch. If you don’t, you’ll be prompted if the Locator feature is enabled, but I prefer to reduce the number of things that can go wrong. (If your machine can’t be booted without erasing it, you should still be fine.)
- Before selling or giving away your Mac. If your Mac is being sent to someone else, you don’t want to sign in to Find My or your Apple ID account for iCloud or purchases at all. Turn off Find My, clean the machine, and reinstall macOS before handing it over.
This Mac 911 article is in response to a question from Macworld reader Sarah.
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