How to Remotely Wipe a Mac
In an extreme situation, say a Mac is lost or stolen, you can remotely wipe the Mac of all its data and contents with the help of iCloud. Remotely wiping a Mac goes a step further though and not only removes all data from the computer, but locks it down so that it’s unusable without a set passcode, plus displays a message you provide. This is excellent anti-theft protection, and even if you never end up using it, it’s good to know how to do.
- iCloud configured on the Mac in question
- OS X Lion 10.7.2 or later installed on the Mac
- Access to a web browser and iCloud.com, or the Find My iPhone iOS app (free)
If you meet the requirements, here is how to use the remote wipe feature.
Remote Wipe a Mac with iCloud
- Go to iCloud.com and click on “Find My iPhone”, or launch the Find My iPhone app in iOS
- Locate the Mac on the map, and click the “i” next to the computers name
- At the Info screen, click on “Remote Wipe”
- Enter a passcode twice for recovery, this will be necessary to know if the Mac is recovered so that it can be unlocked
- Enter a message to be shown on the Mac after it has been wiped, putting a “Property of Bill Gates, if found please contact 1-888-555-1212” message is a good idea
- Click on “Wipe” and confirm
The Mac will be wiped clear of personal data and become essentially useless until the passcode has been entered. This rates up there with some of the best anti-theft software available, and considering that iCloud and Find My Mac is completely free to use, there is no reason to not have this setup in case of emergency.
It should be noted this is not a reasonable approach to simply formatting a Mac hard drive, which is best done locally with the Disk Utility application.
For more remote control fun, remember that you can sleep a Mac remotely through email or SSH too. It’s less dramatic, but perhaps more practical on a day to day basis.