Remotely wiping (kind of) a Macbook without OS

So, here’s my question of the day, let’s see if anybody can help! :slight_smile:
I wanted to take my 2012 Macbook running High Sierra for hardware maintenance (fan spinning like crazy), so I restarted it in recovery mode, reformatted the SSD (not the the recovery partition) BUT DID NOT REINSTALL THE OS. I was in a bit of a rush and I somehow assumed it wouldn’t be a problem. I had been through that whole process before when I was testing whether the fan spinning was a software or a hardware problem and I knew it would take a while.
When I wanted to start it again to check if my data were gone, it showed the “forbidden” sign (no OS). The guys at the repair store say they cannot install any OS because they do not have my iCloud password. Now this is the part I do not understand: is my Macbook still logged into iCloud even after reformatting the SSD? I have it in my iCloud list of devices and I see it as offline, but with the possibility to wipe it remotely should it come online again or disconnect it from my iCloud account. I could just physically go to to the store and type in my password for the OS to be downloaded again, but I’m puzzled and here are my questions: 1. should I attempt a remote wipe to “free” it and 2. can it really be blocked because of lack of access to my iCloud account? The guys at the store maintain I cannot do anything with it remotely, but I’m not 100% convinced.

I hope I’ve been clear enough in my explanation.


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interesting case. Here’s what I think will happen:

If you haven’t logged out of iCloud before wiping the device will still be tied to your account and ask for your iCloud password to install. Remote wipe will only work if MacOS is installed and the MacBook is connected online after you have given the “remote wipe” instruction.

What you can try is remove the device from you iCloud account in Find My Device (as it was already wiped) as this will likely allow the new install without restricitions. Once new install is done you can setup as a new machine and use available backups to restore settings and files.

you should be able to remove the device from the “find my” app, and the store should then be able to reinstall an OS. It would only reappear in your device list if it is then reconnected to your account and “Find my mac” is enabled on your account.

Problem is I’m not 100% sure…

Thanks to both for your inputs. Here’s the follow-up to this story: the repair store people managed to restore my Macbook to factory settings, which means the only OS I could install is Lion (10.8). I do not know how they have managed, since the new SSD I had installed is supposed to support High Sierra (10.13) minimum. I did not need my password, it was an option, but it could be ignored, so that part of the info wasn’t right. I do not think these guys were expert enough… All I would have needed was a clean install on High Sierra. I will have to jump through hoops now, since Mountain Lion (10.9) is a paid upgrade and it is required to download Catalina (from which I could then go back to High Sierra from a clone). Lion does not see my High Sierra disk as bootable, so I can’t choose it as a startup disk.

Conclusion: 1. the whole iCloud lock and password story was not accurate 2. Is there a quick and painless way for me to install High Sierra onto this Macbook now? I do have another Macbook and I have both a clone and a Time Machine backup, but I don’t have a thunderbolt-thunderbolt cable, otherwise I suppose I could start the Macbook in question in target mode and copy my clone onto it, or would that even work? Any other solutions?

Thanks a lot once again!

Btw, the thermal paste has been changed (was very thin), but the Macbook still gets hot and the fan spins… if you have any ideas about this too they would be greatly appreciated.

Now you got the Mac back you can always download High Sierra from the appstore and create a bootable usb. There are enough manuals out there. Erase theMac, boot via USB and take it from there. Should work!.

fan could be a logic board issue. happens on older boards. I had a Mini doing the same and decided to sunset it after 9 years :wink: There is a fan control application which you could use to manually override and keeping an eye on the temps. That could give you an extension of life.

Thanks Simon. I have a High Sierra installer on an external disk, along with other stuff (so not bootable). No big enough USB drive at hand right now, will try to get one tomorrow. Lion doesn’t allow me to use the installer (“forbidden” sign), should it see it as usable? And it can’t install El Capitan, for mysterious reasons (I had that before in my experiments, but then I could use a High Sierra clone as a startup disk, now that doesn’t work).

Thanks for the fans tip too. I’m a bit wary of tampering with the fans, I actually would like to remove the reason for the Macbook to get so hot. Yes, it’s old, but it has such a handy format and processor+RAM are more than sufficient for my needs.

Update for those interested or in a similar situation: when you’re on Lion in Catalina times (or even much earlier) and you want to upgrade you are stuck in the Lion loop of death: El Capitan won’t install (I have read somewhere that the recovery partition was broken in El Capitan and I can confirm that) and the Sierras aren’t available straight from Lion (Mountain Lion was a paid upgrade, which I had before, but did not want to pay for again - if available at all). Luckily my bootable High Sierra clone was finally recognised (not the bootable El Capitain clone for some reason - I had both), so I could choose that as startup disk, clone it back onto the Macbook and do a clean install of High Sierra in recovery mode after erasing the disk from disk utility (from recovery mode). Now I’ll run a few experiments again with only a few apps to see if the fan problem has been solved, but I hear it already - albeit a little only - with only the OS on it. My 2015 Macbook 13" running High Sierra is full and with lots of apps running and no fan noise.

Thanks all for your help! :slight_smile:

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