11 Things You Should Do Before Buying a Second-Hand MacBook
So you want to buy a MacBook, but perhaps you do not want to burn a hole in your pocket. Maybe you’re upgrading from an ancient version, or you finally want to make the switch from Windows to a MacBook.
Buying a second-hand MacBook is a good way to buy a MacBook that works and is well within your budget.
But, as with buying other second-hand consumer tech, it can be pretty confusing.
So, What to check before buying a used MacBook?
#1. Inspect the hardware
You want to look out for any scratches, loose screws, and bends in the screen or the case. If you see something that was not on the listing, negotiate to get a better offer.
If you do see loose screws, it can indicate that the laptop was serviced at a third-party repair service which voids the warranty.
Also, pick up the laptop by the screen and see if it holds its own. If you notice a loose hinge, avoid buying the computer or have the seller repair it before you take ownership.
#2. Verify the age of the MacBook
The listing may claim that the MacBook is new, and the condition might point to that too, but it is entirely possible you are being sold a MacBook that was gently used but is very old. Older MacBooks are nowhere near as fast as the current versions, so if speed is one of your requirements, make sure you check the age of the Mac.
To check when the MacBook was released, click on the Menu Bar available on the top of the screen. Next, click on the Apple icon and choose ‘About this Mac.’ This will tell you the specifications as well as the year it was launched.
If macOS is not installed on the Mac, use the serial number to investigate the age on Apple’s website.
#3. Turn on the computer
The main reason someone may want to purchase a MacBook is to use it, so a functional Mac goes a long way.
Hit the power button on the keyboard. You should hear Apple’s chime and a desktop when it completely loads.
If you notice that the computer doesn’t boot, this may be a cause for concern. Now, if you are an existing Apple user, you can wipe out the laptop and reinstall macOS. But if the Apple environment is new to you, it’s best to consult someone that knows how to do this or step away from the deal.
#4. Turn off the firmware password
A firmware password does not allow you to use a bootable USB drive to install macOS. If you run into this issue, have the seller disable it.
When you turn on the Mac, press the Option key. If you are being asked for a firmware password, then it is enabled on the device.
#5. Check the performance
Again in the interest of buying a functional Apple computer, it is essential that you try to run it as you usually would. Try opening up some apps, using them, some tabs on the browser, and playing audio or video files or open files in the Preview.
It is not the end of the world if you see that it is not ultra-fast. You can run fixes to speed up your Mac. You may want to consider doing this to improve the performance at the time of the purchase rather than after.
#6: Check for defective pixels
Use a dead pixels checker to highlight dead pixels. One or two are okay, but a group of these signals a bigger problem.
#7. Test the keyboard
Open a document and test out each keyboard in lowercase and with Caps Lock on. Again, one dead key is not the end of the world, but if you mainly need the laptop for writing, you do not want to plug in an external board.
#8. Test the optical drive
Put in a CD to see if that works. This is only available on older devices, so if the used MacBook you want to purchase does not have it, do not panic.
#9. Try all the ports
Connect devices to all the ports to make sure they are working, and the laptop recognizes different devices.
#10. Test WiFi and Bluetooth
Connect to your phone’s hotspot to make sure WiFi works. Use a Bluetooth speaker or headset to test the Bluetooth connection and range.
#11. Examine the hard drive
Use the in-built feature called Disk Utility to check if the hard drive is doing okay.
Press Command + Space Bar to open up Spotlight (MacBook’s search tool) and type Disk Utility. Here, look for the option ‘First Aid’ and run it.
This will take a while, so you can get this going first while you check the device for physical damage and such. If messages appear in red, there is something wrong with the device.
This can be used as a bargaining chip, or if you don’t want to deal with fixing it, a sign that this is not the computer for you.
The ultimate step is to run the Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics to determine any other issues. If you see a problem arise here, it may be worth looking at other devices on sale.
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