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In context: Apple opened its Worldwide Developers Conference Monday with a keynote of what's coming in all of its operating systems. The team covered many new features like Live Text for macOS and iOS and Universal Control for macOS and iPadOS. However, the team did not have time to cover all the changes in every system.
Even as WWDC 2021 begins to wind down to Friday's conclusion, we are still learning things from the various developer seminars that Apple has held throughout the week and combing through release notes. A new feature for macOS Monterey that the crew didn't cover on Monday is the ability to reset a Mac to factory condition without having to format the drive or reinstall macOS.
In System Preferences, users will find a new option labeled "Erase all contents and settings." This option deletes user profiles, data, and all apps. It will also revert all settings to factory default. It eliminates the time-consuming process of formatting the HDD/SDD and reinstalling macOS.
But how secure is it? Data never disappears from a drive unless zeroed. So Monterey's method typically would not be preferred for those wanting to sell their device. However, since Apple began using the T2 security chip (and now baked into the M1), data on a Mac drive is encrypted, and the process of erasing all user data destroys the keys as well. Apple claims it is entirely secure with no possibility for data recovery.
The feature does not have the wow factor of, say, the Universal Control demo, which is why Craig Federighi didn't mention it in the keynote. However, system admins who sometimes have to reset multiple computers monthly for new employees are probably applauding the option, which should significantly speed up their workflow.