Clean install of macOS on M1 MacBook

I was listening to the latest MPU today and David mentioned that he was advised to not “nuke and repave” his ailing M1 Air. Does that mean that a clean install isn’t possible on these machines right now?

It may be not that 11.1 is out. On 11.0 and 11.0.1 it was a pain.


Gotcha. Can I quote you on that when trying it bricks my (hopefully arriving tomorrow) new Air? :wink:

the machine will come clean - why would you need to nuke & pave?

It will be undergoing some experimentation that will likely involve reinstalls. It would also be good to know that I could wipe it and hand it off in working order to someone else, should the need arise.

Update: I found these instructions on MacRumors. I suspect that I’ll have occasion to try them sometime soonish :slight_smile:

  1. Power off the M1
  2. Press and hold the power button to enter recovery mode
  3. Click the Options icon and then press continue
  4. In the upper left corner select Recovery Assistant
  5. In that drop down menu, select Erase Mac
  6. Follow the on-screen steps from there
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A technique I’ve used many years with brand new machines (both Windows & macOS) – as soon as they’re out of the box, boot with Clonezilla and make a full disk image.

Then, if there is a problem, I reverse the process to restore the machine to factory-fresh, out-of-the-box status.

(But I will add that I’ve rarely had to use the images.)

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I think that things have changed substantially with Big Sur and the M1 Macs and such tactics may not work anymore. Even just reformatting the drive and reinstalling the OS creates an unusable system, it seems.

I ran into this issue with my M1 Mac mini. I forget what the message was, but I got an error message when trying to follow the old “nuke and pave” process. It took some digging for information, but I eventually was able to get it done, but not without some worry that I might have bricked my Mac.


Do you see compatibility with Mac APFS disks? (aka M1 Macs?) I don’t get any hits when searching for “apfs” on various Clonezilla webpages. Thanks