Owning a MacBook comes at a price, and sometimes it may not be within your budget. So if you are not sure about making a considerable investment or just want to switch to a Mac after owning Windows, a second-hand MacBook is a good idea.
As with other electronics, buying a second-hand device does need to be weighed carefully. There is no servicing option or customer support in most cases (if you are buying it from an individual), so you do need to look out for certain things before making a purchase.
So, here are the nine most important parameters you should definitely check.
Second-Hand MacBook: 9 Things to Check Before Buying
#1. Scan for physical damages
Pictures in an ad can be deceiving. Make sure you give the device a once-over to look out for glaring damages. Some wear and tear are always going to be there given the age of the device, but you should avoid purchasing a device with a pronounced problem.
Check for scratches on the body of the laptop and on the screen by powering it on. Check all the ports and make sure it is not rusted. Connect the charger and check if it is charging.
Check all the screws on the device. A screw that seems loose can indicate that it was serviced by a third-party provider, which voids the warranty.
Also, check for any bends in the screen and close the lid to make sure the laptop shuts down properly. You also want to check the hinges of the laptop. The hinges should not be loose, and you should be able to lift the computer from the screen.
If you come across damage that was not explicitly listed in the ad, you can use this as a bargaining chip and knock off a few dollars on the price.
#2: Check the age of the MacBook
On Windows, checking the age of the device is not straightforward. But on a Mac, you can go to the Menu Bar, click on the Apple icon, and then About this Mac. This will show you the age of the Mac.
You can also grab the MacBook serial number and check Apple’s website to see what kind of coverage and support is offered for the device. If there have been claims about support, you will find out quickly if it is true.
In case the device you are purchasing does not have macOS, you can still use the serial number given on the back to find out the age.
#3. Turn on the MacBook
You want the device you are purchasing to be in fair working condition. If the device does not start, then it indicates a software or a hardware issue. The seller should ideally fix this.
If you are looking to buy a MacBook and fix it up yourself, then this is not a huge problem, but you should get a considerable discount for a non-functional laptop.
#4. Check the pixel condition on the screen
You can use a dead pixel checker to make sure there are no defective pixels on the screen. You should turn on the brightness all the way up, browse a few websites or videos to make sure the colors are correct.
One dead pixel is forgivable, but a bunch of them point to a more significant problem. You should avoid buying the used MacBook in this case.
#5. Test the keyboard
macOS has an in-built feature that allows testing the keyboard called TextEdit. Type in all the characters and make sure the keys are functioning. Next try, everything with Caps Lock.
You can also try a bunch of keyboard shortcuts to make sure they work well together.
#6. Test all the ports
Ideally, you should bring a bunch of peripheral devices like a keyboard, mouse, headphones, HDMI cable, and memory card to test out all the ports. Plug these in and check if the laptop recognizes these devices.
#7. Check the speakers
Even if the sound is dull, you do not want a speaker that has distortion. If you like the MacBook otherwise, you can ideally use it with an external speaker to resolve the poor audio quality issue.
#8. Try the webcam
You might need the webcam for meetings and such, so it is a good idea to test it out. Try the Photo Booth and Facetime app and see if you can see yourself.
#9. Examine the hard drive
The Disk Utility is another inbuilt tool on the MacBook that allows you to make sure the hard drive functions well. For example, the problem might be with the drive lacking free storage.
Go to ‘Disk Utility’ and click on ‘First Aid’ and then hit ‘Run.’ This will take some time to complete, so it is a good idea to get this running while you check the other stuff. If you see a message in red, it means that there is a problem with the hard drive.
Your options are to either get it serviced or get it replaced. You can put the onus on the seller or get a discount if you want to take on the job.
If portability is important to you, you should also check the battery’s health. Most importantly, run the Apple Hardware test to figure out any uncovered issues.
Buying a refurbished MacBook from online sellers can be a cumbersome process, but if you run all these checks, you should be in a position to make a wise decision.