If you want to trade in your Apple product – be it a MacBook, iMac, Mac desktop, iPhone or iPad – you’ll get a pretty good return. Apple’s technology has a reputation in the second-hand market for retaining value long after release. This speaks to the build quality, but mostly to Apple’s long-term software support for its older products. The trend is positive for both buyers, who end up with a product that can work for years to come, and sellers, who will recoup a good percentage of their original purchase price.
There are plenty of ways to trade in your old Apple products for cash. You can easily make an extra $50 to $100 off a sale if you’ve taken care of your technology, as buyers will pay more for products that look better than new. So it pays to make sure your hardware is in good working order.
Clean your equipment
How you clean your Apple product depends on what you are selling. You want to apply some screen cleaner to your iPhone, MacBook, iMac or iPad before putting it up for sale. Pay attention to any scratches or other defects in the screen or case, and be sure to report them accurately during the sales process, otherwise you will likely end up with a dissatisfied buyer and no sale.
Remove all stickers from your technology and if you have a canister of compressed air, clean all ports and grilles. There’s no more immediate reminder that your device is second-hand than forgetting to clean up port gunk.
If you’re selling a macOS desktop, like a Mac Pro or Mac mini, open it up and carefully remove any dust that has accumulated inside, and if you want to add some RAM to make the deal more attractive to buyers, this is your chance.
Disconnect your services
You are about to perform a factory reset, which should take care of everything you have associated with your computer or iPhone, but just in case…
- Make sure you have a full backup on iCloud (or your preferred backup solution).
- Sign out of services like Messages, Find My, and iCloud.
- Unplug devices such as an Apple Watch and any headsets or earbuds.
Perform a factory reset
Ensuring that your computer, phone or watch is wiped properly is mutually beneficial for both the buyer and the seller. What good is hardware that you can’t access due to an unknown passcode? Depending on which product you are dealing with, the process of initiating a factory reset will be different, but most of the time it is simple.
MacBook or macOS desktop
On your MacBook or macOS desktop, first make sure you have backed up all your personal files to your cloud storage service of choice or to an external hard drive. Once you’ve made sure everything is duplicated and safe in a location other than your hard drive, you can wipe the computer.
If you have a system with macOS Ventura:
- Go to System Settings > General.
- You will see Migration Assistant on the right side. Click Erase All Content and Settings and follow the prompts from there.
If you have macOS Monterey:
- Go to System Settings > System Preferences.
- Click Erase All Content and Settings and follow the prompts from there.
If you have an older system that hasn’t been updated, or if the above directions don’t work, try this:
- Click on the Apple logo at the top and press Restarting.
- Once you hear the startup chime, hold down the Command + R keys until the Apple logo appears on your screen. This will load you into the recovery partition of your hard drive so you can destroy your personal data once and for all.
- From the listed applications, open Disk Utilityand then click the first option under your hard drive name. If you haven’t renamed it, it’s probably called “Macintosh HD.”
- Navigate to To clear and confirm the selection. If you choose to securely erase your computer, it will take several hours for the operation to be written across your drive multiple times.
- Now that this step is complete, you are ready to reinstall the operating system. Click the red x, and you will be returned to the recovery menu. Make sure your machine is connected to the Internet, then press Reinstall macOS to reset it to factory settings.
iPhone or iPad
Before you wipe your phone or tablet, turn on iCloud to sync all the information you want to keep. Than:
- Open the Institutions app and navigate to General.
- When you’re there, scroll down to Transfer or reset phonethen hit Erase all content and settings bottom of the screen. (If you’re moving to a new iPhone and you’re not sure you’re ready, tap Get started under the cup Get ready for a new iPhone First.)
- If prompted, enter your passcode or Apple ID password.
We’ve got directions here on how to factory reset your Apple Watch.
Exchange or sell your Apple hardware
You can simply trade in your hardware through Apple itself, or you can go to a number of sites that offer you the chance to sell your stuff.
Apple Trade In gives you Apple Store credit in exchange for your computer, iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. (It’ll even do a trade-in for an Android phone.) You can see how much you can get for your device on Apple’s site – click the blue Find your trade-in value knob. You just need to answer a few questions to find the value. You can send in or trade in your device at Apple Stores in the US and Canada. Apple might not pay you as much for your device as it would in the public market, but it’s a good option if you just want to flip your tech without the hassle.
If Apple doesn’t offer enough for your tech, or if you prefer cash, you can sell it instead. You’ll find passionate people everywhere who are likely to be interested in your gear if it’s well priced and in good condition (and even if it’s not, as long as the price is accordingly).
There are several services you can turn to to sell your hardware. These are just a few:
- You can start with sites like Flipsy and SellCell, which offer comparisons of a number of different buyback sites.
- If you’re selling a tablet, phone, laptop, or certain types of desktops, you might want to try Swappa, which lets you list your device on the site for sale or sell it immediately for less to one of Swappa’s trade-in partners (but a presumably faster response ).
- Decluttr buys and sells a variety of refurbished technology. It works like many similar trade-in sites: you go through a questionnaire and get a quote on your device; if you accept the quote, you send the device. If they find the device to be in the stated condition, you will be paid via direct deposit or PayPal. Decluttr also says it will recycle the original box and charger that came with your device if you choose to send them in.
- If you’re a frequent Best Buy customer, it might be worth trying that store’s trade-in service; you will receive a Best Buy gift card for the amount of your trade-in.
- By comparison, Craigslist doesn’t limit what you want to sell or charge you for listing your items. In fact, it doesn’t hold your hand at all. It’s up to you to arrange the meeting point, negotiate a price, and finally decide how money will be exchanged. This can be stressful, but it can also be super easy and quick. Make sure to meet in public places and don’t fall for an offer that seems too good to be true.
Update June 29, 2023, 10:18 AM ET: This article was originally published on January 14, 2020 and has been updated to reflect some changes to the trade-in policy and operating system features.