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Buying a second-hand Mac is a good possibility for anybody delay by Apple’s value premiums for brand new machines. They’re well-built, they’re well-supported with years of free macOS updates, and any AppleCare+ plans could be transferred to a second-hand purchaser.

But before you purchase a second-hand Mac, you must run a number of checks to ensure you don’t get stung first.

The Basics of Buying a Second Hand Mac

Buying any high-value merchandise second-hand could be a nerve-wracking expertise. This is true whether or not you’re buying from a non-public vendor you discovered on Facebook Marketplace or a second-hand retailer on the excessive avenue. At the very least, you must request a while with the pc in particular person to test issues out for your self.

With on-line gross sales, that is typically not attainable. In these situations, you’ll want to use the standard safeguards you’d bear in mind with any peer-to-peer buy. Check into the vendor’s historical past and guarantee they’ve good suggestions on an account that’s ideally no less than a number of years previous. Use a fee processor like PayPal which gives purchaser safety so you may pull the set off if issues don’t end up the way you count on.

But if you happen to’re shopping for a Mac “IRL” then you’ve gotten fewer protections. Most in-person gross sales happen utilizing money or fee apps that provide no safety, and legal guidelines that defend customers don’t often apply. It’s a “buyer beware” state of affairs the place that you must ensure the merchandise you’re shopping for is match on the market earlier than you hand over any cash. If you’ve gotten any doubts, stroll away.

There are some crimson flags you must look out for when making such a second-hand buy, together with:

  • Does the sale appear too good to be true?
  • Should the merchandise be priced a lot greater?
  • Will the vendor allow you to completely examine the merchandise before you purchase?
  • Is the vendor solely keen to satisfy in an remoted location after darkish?
  • Is money the one fee that the vendor is accepting?

You most likely wouldn’t purchase a automotive with out a possibility to see beneath the bonnet and kick the tires first. Most would insist on a take a look at drive on the very least, even with the vendor within the passenger seat. Buying a pc is not any completely different. You ought to both meet on the vendor’s home or in a public place the place you may’t be taken benefit of. You ought to have time to examine the pc completely before you purchase it.

If you’re shopping for a desktop Mac your choices for an inspection are a bit extra restricted, however you must nonetheless fulfill the essential standards.

RELATED: How to See What Something Is Worth Using eBay

Does the Mac Boot?

It looks as if an apparent level, however the Mac ought to on the very least boot. You ought to see a startup display screen adopted by macOS. You may see a log-on display screen or the “Hello” splash that seems when macOS is freshly put in.

Walk away if the vendor insists that “the battery is dead” and gained’t present the machine booting. If the machine powers on however reveals an error or gained’t boot totally into macOS, that might point out a {hardware} downside. You don’t essentially want to listen to the “Mac noise” when turning the pc on, since Apple dropped that from most of the machines made prior to now ten years (although it’s again within the Apple Silicon fashions).

Is the Mac Still Linked to the Old Owner?

If the Mac boots you’re both going to see “Hello” to point that macOS has been reinstalled, otherwise you’ll see a login window with the account holder’s title. If you see a login window, remember that the Mac continues to be doubtless linked to the previous proprietor. This implies that macOS Activation Lock is probably going nonetheless enabled.

Activation Lock is designed to cease somebody from utilizing a Mac that has been stolen or misplaced. It will should be eliminated earlier than the sale is made. The vendor can take away this function beneath System Preferences > Apple ID then by clicking iCloud within the sidebar and unchecking “Find My Mac” from the checklist.

Find My Mac

The vendor might want to enter their Apple ID password to take away the function. If they can not full this, it might imply that the Mac has been stolen. Never purchase a Mac that also has “Find My Mac” enabled. You ought to totally take a look at the machine first, then insist on this being eliminated earlier than you full the acquisition.

Testing a Mac That’s Been Factory Reset

If you see the “Hello” display screen slightly than a login window, the Mac has been reset to an “as-new” state by the proprietor. On the one hand, that is good because it means Activation Lock has been disabled, whereas on the opposite it presents some issues for testing the machine.

macOS Monterey

Since you have to to run a number of exams on the machine to make sure every part is working, one workaround is to inform the vendor to arrange the Mac for you. Get them so as to add a dummy account to the pc as a way to run your exams, then earlier than you make the sale reset the Mac once more or no less than guarantee Activation Lock (above) isn’t enabled.

If they aren’t in a position to create an account as a consequence of Activation Lock already being enabled, or the Mac presents a “Lost Mode” error then you must stroll away. A real vendor will perceive that that you must see the Mac in totally working order.

Is the Mac Enrolled in a Device Management Program?

Businesses and academic institutions typically purchase Macs wholesale from Apple, and use a tool administration program referred to as Automated Device Enrollment (ADE)—beforehand referred to as Device Enrollment Program (DEP)—to handle units. This can current all types of issues, because the program is linked to the Mac’s serial quantity.

On setup of macOS, the Setup Assistant will test the gadget’s enrollment standing and obtain any configurations that exist. This can cease an end-user from utilizing the Mac in any respect because it requires the unique proprietor’s intervention to take away the profile from the system for use as a “normal” Mac.

You can test a tool’s ADE/DEP enrolment standing utilizing a Terminal command, however you’ll want admin entry (so the proprietor might want to enter the admin password for the command to run). Open Terminal and kind:

sudo profiles present -type enrollment

If you see “null” or an error like “Client is not DEP enabled.” then the gadget is probably going not enrolled. This means it’s most likely not stolen from a earlier employer or college.

macOS check for ADE/DEP with Terminal

Be conscious that there are some methods of stopping macOS from checking for DEP/ADE standing on setup, so there’s a small quantity of threat assumed when shopping for any Mac.

How Does it Run?

You ought to spend a while with the Mac to see the way it runs. Test out a number of widespread workflows like opening Safari and visiting some web sites, shopping the Mac App Store, checking processes in Activity Monitor, and looking for objects in Spotlight. You also can take this chance to ensure video and audio performs again easily, which may also affirm that the audio system are in working order.

An older Mac that hasn’t been formatted just lately might have a number of bloat working within the background which will have an effect on efficiency, however issues ought to nonetheless tick alongside with out many issues. Web pages that scroll or carry out poorly, freezes and stutters, and the machine producing a number of warmth might point out that issues aren’t all they appear.

Excessive warmth could be brought on by mud build-up inside the machine and if you happen to’re comfortable to clear a MacE book out for your self then you might need to take the chance. This is one thing you’ll must “feel out” by hand, however it stands to cause {that a} MacE book shouldn’t be too scorching to the touch or blaring the followers whereas idle or beneath little or no load.

Be conscious that older Intel Macs might run a lot hotter than newer Apple Silicon fashions with an M1 or comparable processor. A Mac with an Apple Silicon processor ought to stay cool and quiet even beneath a medium load.

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

Are the Keyboard and Trackpad in Good Order?

If you’re shopping for a MacE book or desktop Mac that features peripherals, take a look at the keyboard totally and ensure every part feels and behaves because it ought to. Make positive all the keys work, together with the facility button and fingerprint sensor if current. If you’re shopping for a MacE book Pro with a Touch Bar, be certain that it registers contact inputs and reveals contextual controls for no matter app you’re utilizing.

This is very essential on MacBooks made between 2015 and 2020, which used Apple’s dreaded “Butterfly” keyboard for which there’s an official service program now in place. While Apple will restore any issues free of charge, you must nonetheless draw any points to the vendor’s consideration since it will have an effect on the worth of the machine.

Don’t neglect to check trackpads and mice too. Older trackpads with bodily transferring elements are extra vulnerable to points than the newer “Force Touch” fashions which simulate the “click” utilizing haptics. On a MacE book changing the trackpad can typically be very tough with out changing different rather more costly elements contained in the machine.

Do the Ports All Work?

Obvious injury to ports ought to ring alarm bells, and if you happen to can you must take a look at these ports. Desktop fashions just like the Mac mini might should be attached by way of HDMI so ensure that the show output works as anticipated. Most MacBooks launched within the final 5 or so years will solely have USB-C (Thunderbolt) ports, so maintain this in thoughts if you wish to carry a flash drive or USB cable for this objective.

USB-C to USB-C Cable (Apple)

Does the Display Have Dead Pixels or Other Problems?

Nobody likes lifeless pixels, however many shows endure from them in time. The older the show, the extra doubtless you’ll have caught or lifeless pixels. Sometimes these pixels are situated in areas that you simply’ll barely discover, and different instances they’re in the course of the display screen the place you’re trying 90% of the time.

The solely approach to inform is to stand up shut and private and use a web site like DeadPixelTest.org. Make the net browser full display screen and cycle by the varied colours obtainable. You might not reject a sale purely as a result of presence of lifeless pixels, however it might offer you some leverage to get the vendor to decrease the worth.

What Condition Is the Battery In?

If you’re shopping for a MacE book that you simply’re planning to make use of on battery energy, figuring out the situation of the battery could also be essential. Learn the right way to test the battery situation of a MacE book earlier than you arrive. The older the machine the extra cycles the battery is more likely to have on it, and the more severe the efficiency.

macOS System Report

Like lifeless pixels, this will not make or break your buy however if you wish to substitute the battery within the MacE book you must issue this value into the sale.

Does It Come With a Charger?

If you’re shopping for a MacE book you must count on to see a first-party, Apple-branded charger. These have the Apple emblem recessed into the facet and are available within the firm’s signature white. Third-party chargers aren’t completely ineffective, however they’re considerably cheaper than Apple’s choices.

MagSafe 3 MacBook Pro charger
Tim Brookes

Be very cautious of any sellers that don’t embody the charger within the sale. This might recommend that the machine has been stolen, and it might restrict your skill to conduct exams on the machine. Like a battery alternative, you must think about the price of a charger if you happen to’re contemplating shopping for a machine that doesn’t embody a charger.

Finally, Consider Running Apple Diagnostics

Apple Diagnostics is a built-in utility that Apple contains with its computer systems to check for any {hardware} errors that could be current. The function doesn’t present notably detailed suggestions, however it does typically flag among the extra widespread points.

Learn the right way to run Apple Diagnostics on a Mac before you purchase it.

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