How To Safely Buy A Used Macbook
Let's cut to the chase: Buying used gear can save you money but can be risky as heck. That certainly applies to eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace purchases. With eBay purchases, you generally won't be able to see the unit (or units) until they arrive at your door. The potential for outright scams is high.
how to safely buy a used macbook
One of the more interesting challenges in buying used MacBook Pro machines is understanding which model year you're buying. When buying a used car, you always want to know its model year, but oddly enough, many Mac resellers (both the commercial ones and private ones) seem to gloss over the production year in favor of specs.
That said, you need to do a certain amount of OS calculus. According to Apple, the new version of macOS (called Monterey), which was released in October 2021, supports MacBook Pros and Airs going back to 2015, as well as iMacs and Mac Minis going back to 2014. If you're looking to buy a used MacBook or iMac from these years, chances are they're running macOS Mojave. If that's the case, be warned: Apple's support for Mojave ended on October 22, 2021. This means that while you can still use your MacBook or iMac for everyday tasks, you won't be able to receive software, firmware, or security updates. Big Sur supports MacBooks and iMacs going as far back as 2013, so if you're ok with using a slightly older version of macOS, you can pick up an older Mac on-the-cheap and still get regular software and security updates.
While Apple has never officially published their timetable policy for ending support for older Mac devices, the general rule has been a maximum lifespan of about 7 years post-release. So, you can assume that certain models will drop off the OS support list each year. You can check if the used Mac you've got your eye on is supported with the Big Sur and Monterey compatibility lists. This way, you can get a better idea of how long you'll be able to use your older Mac and plan for when you'll need to buy another one.
As mentioned above (and as you should know if you're braving buying a used Mac locally), About This Mac is a small screen located under the Apple menu. Have the seller take a photo of that screen and text it to you. That should give you model, serial number, amount of RAM, OS currently running, and type of storage. If any of those specs bother you, stop right here.
It used to be that you could check the S.M.A.R.T. status of hard drives. With Apple's new APFS and SSDs, S.M.A.R.T. is pretty much obsolete. I prefer to use Disk Utility to run First Aid on a drive to see if any errors show up. Errors on the drive could be caused by a bad drive (which is replaceable) or bad drive controller chips (which are not). I'd recommend walking away from any machine that fails the First Aid scan. If the seller doesn't want you to run a scan, run away.
My recommendation is to only buy a used machine from a commercial seller who you know will honor returns. These include Amazon's Renewed program, OWC, and Apple Certified Refurbished machines. When you get your machine, you'll have seven to 30 days to fully test it out. Make sure you know your return period. Once you get your machine (or machines), load them up fully and test them rigorously.
When it comes to Amazon, you can do a search for used MacBook Pros by model year, but the company doesn't list them that way. Instead, it lists the model number of the Mac, which makes it harder to know what you're looking at.
Now, let's compare these used/refurbished models with a new 2020 purchase. A 2019 i5 13-inch MacBook Pro with 256GB and 8GB of RAM is $1,299. A more ideal, longer-lasting configuration with 16GB RAM takes the machine up to $1,499.
For a professional like me, used is probably not worth it. As we've seen, there's about a three hundred dollar savings buying used from a reputable dealer, but your selection of configurations is less than you'd have if you bought new, straight from Apple.
Every Mac, regardless of model or age, will eventually become obsolete. That means it will no longer be supported by Apple, and you won't be able to install OS updates and security patches. For a used Mac to be a good value, you want one that puts that obsolescence date as far in the future as possible. It's a good idea to not invest in a used Mac that is more than three years old, because Apple tends to support its computers for about six years. Also, keep in mind that Apple is moving away from Intel processors. As Macs with Intel chips are phased out in favor of Apple's own silicon, your used Intel-based Mac may start to encounter obsolescence sooner than you expect.
There's an old saying: If something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is too good to be true. There's another saying: Buyer Beware. If you are looking to purchase a used iPad, iPhone or Apple Watch or you have already bought one, this is for you. Chances are if you're reading this you've bought a used device which is Activation Locked. Read below to learn why this was not a very good purchase.
Here on Apple Support Communities (ASC) we rarely see questions from people asking what to look for if they are considering the purchase of a used iOS device. Sadly however, every single day here on ASC we field questions from multiple people who already purchased a used iOS Device. They get them from many sources, such as eBay, Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook, Pawn Shops, even charitable donation centers like Salvation Army or Goodwill Industries. I'm sure I could list more sources, but that's enough to get my point across.
People are completely unaware of what or how important Activation Lock is. Activation Lock is a Theft Deterrent System. The best Anti Theft Deterrent system available. One even the FBI could not bypass. Personally, I find it remarkable people do so little research before parting with their money, but then I also understand not everyone can afford a new iPhone/iPad/Apple Watch and purchasing a used one can be a way to get one for themselves they can afford.
Phones which were purchased on contract, are usually carrier locked. This means the phone will only operate on that carrier's network. Even if you manage to purchase a phone which is not Activation Locked, you need to know if the phone is Carrier Locked. It is important to note that ONLY the carrier can unlock a phone to be used with another carrier. Apple can't do this for you.
My company sells used iPhones and iPads on eBay that have had the Activation Lock removed. We mention this in the listing and guarantee that the device has no Activation Lock on it. If you should buy a device from eBay, look for this in the listing. If it doesn't guarantee this, DO NOT BUY IT! Also look at how long the seller has been with eBay and read their feedback! We have a 100% seller rating because of this and this way, we can keep our customers happy with devices they can use.
Extremely well written and very thorough. This will help a great amount of people. I will be sure to refer to this article when users of this forum ask about purchasing a used Apple Device. Thanks for this.
Just came across this very good User Tip but I have a question/comment. I thought that the "3 iCloud per device" pertained to the number or accounts that can be created on a device, not the number that can be used on a device. While it is true that one can only create 3 accounts on one iDevice I thought that one can use an account created on a different device (another iDevice or a Mac for instance) and use that account on the device that is limited for new account creation. This has been discussed on various ASC threads before, some old, for instance:
"If the phone has already been used to create three iCloud accounts it will never be able to create any more, no matter what you do to it. If you are going to sell it you you can sign out of the iCloud account currently on it (you must do this or the next owner will find himself locked out sooner or later), and you will need to explain to the purchaser that if he doesn't already have an iCloud account he will have to create an iCloud account on another device (iOS or Mac, not Windows or Android) and then sign into that account on the phone."
The hardware check on a used MacBook also includes carefully inspecting the ports. Make sure that at least the ports you need are in good shape and not misaligned. If the ports are bend beyond redemption, you can also take it as a sign of careless usage.
To check the display on an old or used MacBook, run the EIZO monitor test. This will let you check the Mac for defective/dead pixels. Next up, conduct a speaker test online or simply play a YouTube video to check if the speakers work to your liking. Open FaceTime or Photo Booth to check the webcam.
Buying a used Macbook is very different than the purchase of a used Windows PC. While many people refresh their PCs and Windows-based laptops on a regular basis, Mac Fans are typically slow with their upgrades. Macs and particularly, MacBooks, are built sturdier, and the high quality of these machines is hardly a point that needs discussion or debate.
The other online retailer with a strong reputation in the Mac business is Powermax. Check their site out for some good deals. They carry a pretty decent inventory when it comes to used Macs and Macbook. There is also Mac Mall and Mac of All Trades. We have also tried Small Dog Electronics in the past and like their customer service.
We hope that the pointers provided in this article serve as a good starting point for you to explore before you get yourself that sweet deal on a used Macbook. And remember, if the seller can not furnish you with the original receipt or the packaging of the MacBook with the serial number on it, that speaks volumes of the condition of the MacBook.
When buying a used MacBook from a 3rd party, does the serial number need to be transferred? How can I make sure that the purchase is tracked by Apple in case I run into any future issues and need to take it in for service? 041b061a72