I am going to be selling my 15″ Aluminum Powerbook G4 soon. I would like to sell it with some of the programs included (Office and Adobe CS2 – I figure I should make a few extra bucks including them) but without exposing any personal information. What’s the best way to do a thorough cleaning of my Mac without actually losing everything. Additionally, will I be able to use these programs if I reinstall them on a new mac? What’s the easiest way to just do a clean sweep of a mac and reinstall applications that I have now – do I need the original software CD/DVDs? Other suggestions?
I have to start by pointing out that what you’re proposing isn’t uncommon but is actually illegal: if you have a single user license for Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite 2, etc., then you either sell the license to the software with the computer, or you need to delete the software from the computer so that you have the license available for your new system. Does that make sense? Heck, with some software, it’s savvy enough that you won’t even be able to install the second copy of the software if the first hasn’t been deauthorized or unlicensed. And that would really stink if you got an additional $20 for including the software just to find you need to drop another $700 to replace it!
That’s the thing of it too: I don’t think that you’re going to be able to sell your Powerbook for much more because of the software included on the unit versus what you’d see if you just scrubbed it clean and sold it “as is” but had unauthorized and deleted the licensed software applications.
One way to find out is to actually do some research on an auction site like eBay: search completed auctions to see winning bid prices for similar hardware, then read through the descriptions to see if they included lots of expensive software or not. I haven’t done the research on a Aluminum Powerbook (though I do own one, as it happens) but I think you’re going to find that there’s only a minimal incremental value to the unit in the marketplace, if any.
Okay, I’ve said my piece. If you really want to scrub your computer clean and keep this software on then you should seriously consider reformatting the disk, reinstalling Leopard or whatever other version of Mac OS X you have available, installing all the system updates through the Mac Software Update utility (accessible from the Apple menu), and then reinstalling whatever you want to include with the system.
If you don’t want to reformat your drive and start from scratch, you could remove your user account completely (though I’d recommend you created a new “demo” account first so that the system has something) but at a minimum I would recommend you delete everything in the /Library/Preferences and /Users/accountname /Library/Preferences directories.
When you delete files, remember that you need to use “secure delete” to empty the trash too. This is accessible in the Finder with Finder –> Secure Empty Trash, and it’s well worth knowing about even for your own computer usage, just in case…
Also make sure that you deauthorize iTunes on your Powerbook so that they don’t gain either access to your iTunes account or any music / movies you’ve bought through the iTunes Store, not to mention wiping all bookmarks, cookies, and other data in your web browsers (Safari, Firefox, Camino, Flock, etc).
Finally, you might want to check out AppTrap. I haven’t tried it myself, but have read that it’s a nice application uninstaller: You probably have quite a few apps on your system that should be deleted before you hand your computer on to someone else.
I realize this sounds like a big burden, but I just think about what I would and wouldn’t want accessible to someone who stole my own laptop, and it’s a chilling feeling! There are a lot of places where personal information, from documents to photos, a music library to account names tucked into cookie files, that are easily overlooked and can be real trouble if found by someone with dishonorable intentions.
Good luck on your transaction. Come back and let us know what you decided vis-a-vis including Microsoft Office and Adobe CS2 too.