May 27, 2024


Unlimited Technology

From Sleeves to Screens, We Found 8 MacBook Accessories That Help Boost Productivity

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Apple has been making Macs since 1984, and while they’re known for their durability, longevity, and world class designs, the right accessories make them even better. That can mean expanding their capabilities, covering their flaws, or improving the experience of using your computer. The accessories below tick one (or more!) of those boxes, and deserve a place on your desk, in your bag, or any place you take your Mac.

Some of the accessories we’ve recommended can only be used with Apple’s MacBook laptops, but most of them work with every computer Apple makes. We’ve also made sure to make alternate recommendations that work with older systems when possible, since Macs tend to last quite a few years. Regardless of which machine you use, or when it was made, these accessories can help you get the most out of it.

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1. Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro

Apple’s insistence on making modern Macs thinner and lighter led to the removal of many ports, the parts of the computer that let you plug in accessories. This is especially true on MacBooks, which only have Thunderbolt 3 Ports. If you don’t want to upgrade all of your accessories after getting your new computer, you’ll need a dock.

Belkin’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro contains 12 different ports: two Thunderbolt 3, four USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.1, one USB-C 3.1, one Gigabit Ethernet, one DisplayPort, one SD card slot, and a 3.5mm audio input. For reference, these are all ports Apple used to have on its Macs, but has slowly taken away over time.

To give you an example of what’s possible: This dock would allow you to connect your Mac to two 4K monitors, three external hard drives, a USB microphone, DSLR memory card, wired headphones, and your WiFi router at the same time.

I’ve been testing this dock for the past few weeks, and its performance has been rock solid. Multiple accessories could be connected simultaneously, and I never experienced any flakiness. My devices even stayed connected when I woke my computer from sleep, or restarted it, which I can’t say for other docks I’ve tested. If you can only get one accessory for your Mac, this Swiss Army Knife-like dock is what I recommend.

Note: If you’re using a Mac that doesn’t have Thunderbolt 3 ports, we recommend Satechi’s USB-A hub, which has three USB 3.0 ports, an SD Card slot, and a MicroSD Card slot. It’s available on Amazon for $29.99.

2. LG UltraFine 27-Inch 5K Monitor

There are dozens of excellent external monitor options, but LG’s UltraFine 5K display was made specifically to work with the Mac. In fact, it uses the same display tech Apple does in its iMac desktop computers.

The LG UltraFine has one Thunderbolt 3 port, and three USB-C ports on the back. Your Mac needs to be connected to its Thunderbolt 3 port, but you can attach other accessories to its USB-C ports. This functionality allows you to use the display as a hub, and connect to multiple accessories by plugging in a single cable.

Because it was made with the Mac in mind, the UltraFine works in sync with the computer. Instead of physical control buttons, its brightness, contrast, sharpness, and volume can all be adjusted via settings in the Mac’s System Preference application, or by pressing your computer’s brightness and volume keys (or touch bar).

The monitor automatically turns on when a Mac is connected, turns off when it’s disconnected, and can charge a MacBook Pro at full speed without needing an extra cable.

If you need some extra screen space, and want the best external monitor experience available, the LG UltraFine 27-Inch 5K Monitor is the right pick.

Note: If your computer doesn’t have Thunderbolt 3 ports, we have an entire guide to both flatscreen and curved monitors of various sizes and prices. These monitors can work with any computer, not just a Mac.

3. ProCase Laptop Sleeve Case

ProCase Laptop Sleeve

If your Mac of choice is a laptop, you need a case that prevents damage while you’re carrying it around. ProCase’s Laptop Sleeve Case has a simple design, and nice extras, which is why it’s earned our recommendation.

The canvas exterior is made out of a textured water-resistant fabric, that should be soft to the touch. The inside features a soft lining to prevent scratches in transit. This case won’t totally protect your MacBook from getting damaged, but it’s a good first and second line of defense. One of this case’s best features is its front zippered pocket, which can be used to hold accessories like chargers and cables. It’s a neat way to keep all of your gear in one place.

ProCase’s Laptop Sleeve Case is available in several different sizes, which will accommodate every laptop from the 12-inch Macbook to the 16-inch MacBook Pro. If you’re currently carrying your laptop around in your backpack without a case, this is a good upgrade.

4. AUKEY Omnia USB C Charger

AUKEY MacBook Pro Charger

Until recently, the only way to get an additional charger for your MacBook or MacBook Pro was settling for an official one from Apple. If you’ve bought one in the past four years (any model with Thunderbolt 3 ports), you’re better served getting this one from AUKEY.

The company’s 100W Omnia USB-C Charger (it’s confusing, but Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports share the same shape), is my go-to recommendation for MacBook owners. Not only will it charge your laptop as quickly (or more quickly) than Apple’s official charger, it’s significantly smaller (50% according to AUKEY).

I’ve been using this adapter to charge my iPhone, iPad Pro, and ASUS’ Zephyrus laptop for over a month, and it’s done a phenomenal job. All of my devices have recharged quickly, and haven’t felt warm to the touch afterward, which can happen with some fast chargers.

Having a full-powered charger that can fit in your pocket is incredibly convenient; just remember to get an additional USB-C cable with it.

5. RAVPower 20100 USB-C Charger

RAVPower USB-C Battery Pack

Another power-related benefit to using a MacBook with Thunderbolt 3 ports is the ability to recharge it on the go by plugging it into a high-powered external battery pack.

RAVPower’s 20100 power bank has a USB-C PD (Power Delivery) port, which can output enough electricity to extend the life your MacBook or MacBook Pro by several hours. If you connect the battery pack to your laptop while it’s asleep, it’ll actually charge the machine; if you connect it while you’re actually using your laptop, it’ll keep the MacBook’s battery level from going down. The result in both cases is the same, but don’t get worried if you don’t notice your battery percentage going up while you’re using it.

If you find yourself in situations without access to an outlet (international travel is a big one), this is an accessory that can keep you productive and connected for a lot longer. Better yet, you can use its regular USB-A port to charge an additional accessory (a phone, tablet, etc.) while it’s connected to your computer.

6. Logitech M557 Bluetooth Mouse

Logitech’s M557 Bluetooth Mouse is one of the few tech accessories I’ve liked enough to get twice: One for home use, one for the office. The M557 has three features that have made it my go-to for several years.

First, it’s Bluetooth, which means you don’t need to connect a receiver to your computer to use it. Bluetooth is a universal standard, so you can connect this mouse to any Mac you own or upgrade to. Second, it’s pretty small, but very comfortable to hold. Ergonomics matter a lot with an accessory you’ll be physically touching several hours a day, and the M557 passes the test.

Finally, this mouse stands out because it has several programmable buttons. By pushing the Windows button (yes, this works on a Mac), pressing on the scroll wheel, or clicking the scroll wheel left and right, you can evoke certain actions.

For instance, I have the right and left scroll click programmed to go back and forward between web pages, scroll click brings up Launchpad, and the Windows button brings up Mission Control. All of these features are fairly accessible, but having them a click away saves me a few seconds every single time I need them.

Logitech has an app available for the Mac that allows you to program each individual button, so you can play around with different combinations to find which ones work best for you. The good news is that if you never fuss around with these techy features, the M557 still stands up as an excellent Bluetooth Mouse.

7. Edifier R1700BT Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers

If you listen to a lot of music on your Mac, its built-in speakers aren’t going to cut it. Apple doesn’t make official Mac speakers, but Edifer’s R1700BT matches the company’s high bar for aesthetics, and insistence on performance.

Each speaker has two drivers (the part of the speaker that creates sound), a four-inch woofer that handles low and midrange frequencies, and a .75 inch tweeter to handle high ones. By distributing the bass, midrange, and treble across two drivers, you get better, more balanced sound. While the speakers should sound good out of the box, you can adjust the treble, bass, and volume by turning knobs on the side of the right speaker.

You can connect the R1700BTs to your Mac by connecting a cable from your headphone jack to RCA (red and white) inputs on the back, or wirelessly via Bluetooth. By supporting Bluetooth and two sets of RCA inputs, Edifier allows you to connect these speakers to multiple gadgets simultaneously. If you need a great looking, great sounding pair of Mac speakers that can be repurposed in your home theater or living room, the R1700BTs are a great choice.

8. Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD

Storing your data in the cloud is incredibly convenient, but it comes with a major drawback: It’s entirely dependent on the internet.

If your connection is slow, you’ll have a hard time moving large files on and off your computer; if your internet goes down, those files will be completely inaccessible. To avoid that issue, it’s best to keep your most important files (or total system backups) on an external SSD (Solid State Drive.)

We’re recommending Samsung’s T7 Touch because it’s small, light, and allows you to unlock an encrypted backup using its fingerprint reader. You should still come up with an extremely tough password in case the reader fails, but the option to use your finger makes it a lot more convenient to use. Samsung includes a USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A cable with this drive, so you can use it with any Mac.

SSDs have a couple of big advantages over traditional external hard drives. They have no moving parts, which makes them a lot more durable, and they’re a lot faster at transferring data. Your real world results may vary, but an SSD will read and write data roughly eight times faster than an external hard drive.

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