Can a Stolen MacBook Be Used?

Can a Stolen MacBook Be Used

It can be quite uncertain when your MacBook gets stolen. What happens next? Does it still function, or does it pose issues for both the thief and unsuspecting users? Can the thief access your accounts? These questions can be vexing, but fear not!

In this article, we will elucidate the steps to take when your MacBook is stolen and delve into the actions a thief can take upon acquiring your MacBook.

We will also shed light on ways to steer clear of purchasing a stolen MacBook, along with other vital information you should be aware of.

Is it possible to use a stolen MacBook?

If someone takes a MacBook that doesn’t belong to them, they might use it, but it won’t be simple. If the person who took it knows your Apple ID password, they can get into your iCloud account and see all your stuff. They could also do things like buy stuff or send spam using your MacBook. If the person keeps trying to log in your Apple ID you would be getting random Apple ID codes on your iPhone.

But if they don’t know your Apple ID password, they can still use the MacBook for basic things like going on the internet or checking email. But they can’t get at your files or buy things they’re not supposed to.

Apple has a thing called “Find My Mac” that can help you find a lost or stolen MacBook. If you’ve turned on Find My Mac, you can lock your MacBook from far away, erase all your stuff on it, or make it make noise so you can find it.

If you buy a MacBook and you think it might be stolen, you should tell Apple. Apple will help get the stolen MacBook back to the person who owns it.

Using a stolen MacBook can get you in trouble with the law. You could be charged with having stolen stuff, or the rightful owner of the MacBook could sue you for money. You might also have to pay for any stuff that’s bought or done on the MacBook without permission.

It’s not a good idea to mess with a stolen MacBook. If you find one and think it’s stolen, it’s better to call the police and let them deal with it.

What to do if your Mac is stolen

Here are some tips to keep in mind if your Mac is ever lost, as well as some good preventative best practices to take before that happens.

Locate your device using Find My

If your device happens to go missing or is stolen, your initial step should be to attempt to locate it using the Find My app.

You can access the Find My app by logging into your Apple ID account on an iPhone or iPad. Alternatively, you can also sign in on another person’s device.

Additionally, there’s a cloud-based version of the Find My app accessible through a web browser on

Within the Find My app, you’ll have the ability to determine if your Mac is in close proximity or simply misplaced. In such a scenario, you can employ Find My to emit a sound from your Mac, facilitating its retrieval.

Put your Mac into Lost Mode

Once you’ve determined that your Mac is truly lost or stolen, the next step is to put it into Lost Mode.

Lost Mode prevents unauthorized access to your Mac by locking it. Additionally, it allows you to display a customizable message on the Lock Screen — a handy feature for placing contact information.

How to put your Mac into Lost Mode

  • Open the Find My app on one of your Apple devices or use
  • Tap or click on Devices
  • Find and Tap your missing Mac
  • Scroll down and tap Mark As Lost
  • Follow the instructions and enter a custom message
  • Finally, hit Activate

Police Report

Report the theft right away to your local law enforcement agency. Give them all pertinent information, including the MacBook’s serial number and any identifying characteristics. A police report on file may be useful for legal and insurance claims.

Apple Support

Contact Apple Support and let them know about the theft. They can help you blacklist the stolen MacBook, making it more difficult for the thief to use or sell the computer.

Community Forums and Social Media

Inform people about the stolen MacBook in the appropriate community forums and social media sites. There is a rare possibility that someone will find your device being sold or offered online, which could result in its retrieval.

Third-Party Tracking Software

Consider employing third-party tracking software if you want to prevent theft. Some programs come with further capabilities, including taking pictures of the thief using the MacBook’s camera, taking screenshots, or recording keystrokes to provide proof to law enforcement.

What if I didn’t set up Find My?

In such unfortunate cases, it’s advisable to prepare for the worst when it comes to your personal data that was stored on it.

Regrettably, there’s limited recourse concerning your documents, photos, and other file types. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to consider changing the passwords for your online accounts.

Take a moment to recall all the accounts you may have accessed on your Mac. Proceed to update those passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and keep a vigilant eye on your online accounts for any suspicious activities.

In the absence of Find My setup, it’s especially prudent to file a report with the police, including your Mac’s serial number. While it may be a long shot, there remains a slim possibility that your Mac might resurface in the future.

How Can You Tell if A Macbook You Want to Buy is Stolen?

If you are in the process of searching for and buying a new Macbook, inquire about a serial number from the seller. If they refuse to share the serial number with you, they are more than likely not the original owner of the Macbook, and the device itself may be stolen.

You can also check Apple Care eligibility if you have the serial number of your Macbook readily available. A professional Apple specialist can help verify the ownership and sale record(s) of your Macbook if you have a valid serial number.

If you believe you have a Macbook that is stolen in your possession, it is also advisable to contact your local police department. Your local police department can crosscheck records that may indicate your laptop was recently stolen and is being searched for by its original owner.

While this is not always a foolproof method of determining if a laptop is stolen or not, it can provide you with peace of mind. 

How can I increase the security of my Macbook?

Keeping your Macbook safe and protected at all times is always a goal, but any computer can be stolen given the right circumstances. Increasing the security of your Macbook and all of your electronic devices can significantly reduce the risk of having your information stolen, leaked, or exposed.

Use the following tips to increase the security of your Macbook: 

  • Only connect to safe and secured internet connections that are encrypted and private. Avoid using public internet connections if you are using your Macbook to store and share sensitive information.
  • Always use the Find My app with all of your Apple devices, including any Macbook you use, for work or for personal reasons. Having the Find My application connected to your devices can help alleviate stress and worry if you misplace your Macbook or if it is stolen by another person. 
  • Utilize passwords, pins, and encrypted connections, including two-factor authentication solutions for logging into your accounts as well as your Apple devices, including your Apple Macbook. 
  • Update all of your passwords including your email, social media, bank, and other preferred website passwords. Never use the same password for your computer log in as you do for other websites, especially with the increase in online phishing scams, hacking attempts, and data theft on the internet today. 

Is the serial number of my MacBook important?

Yes, it can be, especially in instances where your Macbook is lost or you believe it has been stolen by someone else. A MacBook’s serial number can be reported to police to help with tracking potentially lost electronics or devices.

Additionally, if an individual is unwilling to share serial information about a Macbook during a sale, they may not be the original owner of the Macbook themselves. Having the original Macbook serial number can help to prove you are the original owner of the laptop.

How can I lock my Macbook if I believe it has been stolen? 

If you believe your Macbook has been stolen, you can lock your Macbook using the Find My app on your preferred Apple smartphone or connected device. Launch the Find My app and complete the following steps:

  • Tap ‘Activate’ under the ‘Mark as Lost’ section of the app once you launch the app and navigate to your current Apple devices. 
  • You can also visit and select ‘Lock’ once you have successfully logged into your iCloud Apple account. 

Can I erase my Mac remotely?

Yes, it is possible to erase the hard drive of your Macbook remotely if you believe it has been stolen and you are unable to recover the computer or the data yourself.

To erase the contents of your Macbook permanently, you can do so by removing your lost or stolen computer from your current list of trusted and connected Apple devices. Read our comprehensive article on How to factory reset a MacBook Pro, the guide works for all MacOS.

What if I can’t unlock my Macbook? 

Attempting to gain access to your Macbook only to be denied can be frustrating. If you’re locked out of your Macbook and you can’t seem to unlock it, you have three viable options available, including:

  • Using iCloud: Sign in to your iCloud account to view all of your connected Mac devices. From iCloud, you can choose to manually unlock your Macbook remotely as long as you have a working wireless internet connection.
  • Use your passcode: Use your Apple Watch, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to remotely unlock your device using a passcode you have set up via the Find My app from the Apple store.
  • Visit the Apple store: Visit an Authorized Service Provider for Apple to request assistance with unlocking your Apple Macbook. Keep in mind that you will likely need to provide proof of purchase or proof of ownership which may require your Macbook’s serial number in order to receive service.

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