Re-run the Setup Assistant on OS X Mavericks

I recently needed to install OS X Mavericks on an old iMac. To make sure that everything was fine I ran the machine through the full Setup Assistant — setting up a user with my name in the process. Rather than reloading Mavericks on the iMac to clean it off, I did a quick Google search on how to get Mavericks to re-run the Setup Assistant, and I was lucky to find a post on the now defunct TUAW that describes the process.

If you hate using the command line it might be easier to reload OS X. If you’re feeling brave or do understand the CLI here’s how you can clean up your Mac and start back at the Setup Assistant:

Boot into single-user mode by holding down Command-S on the keyboard during startup

At the command-line prompt,

type mount -uw /
 rm -R /Library/Preferences
 rm -R /Users/YOURUSERNAME/  cd /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default
 ls (to list the files)

Delete the file that is named after your user account with a .plist extension. For example, for user name “joe” you’d type rm joe.plist

rm /private/var/db/.AppleSetupDone

At this point, OS X restarts and the Setup Assistant launches automatically, initially asking you what language you want to set up the Mac in. Since you’re going through this entire dog-and-pony show to set up the Mac for a new user, you don’t want to run Setup Assistant again, so just press Command-Q at the language screen, then click the Shut Down button.

When the new owner boots up their shiny “new to them” Mac, they’re greeted with the Setup Assistant just as if they’d picked up the device at their local Apple Store.

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