Best MacBook Accessories 2021: External Monitor, SSD, Speakers, Mouse - Rolling Stone
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From Sleeves to Screens, We Found 15 MacBook Accessories That Help Boost Productivity

Your Mac is great on its own, but these accessories help to upgrade your experience

Oakywood-Vertical-laptop-stand

Oakywood

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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.

1. Oakywood Vertical Stand

Oakeywood Vertical Stand

Oakeywood

If you want to maximize your desk space while your MacBook is connected to an external monitor, we recommend Oakywood’s Vertical Stand.

The wooden stand has felt pads on the inside that keep your laptop snugly in place while it’s elevated. One of the biggest benefits to using this stand is that you can position your MacBook behind your monitor. Another plus is that Oakywood’s stand keeps all of your computer’s ports completely accessible.

I’ve been able to test this stand out, and it’s one of the nicest MacBook accessories I’ve ever used. The wood looks and feels premium, and the felt pads are soft enough that I never worry about the laptop getting scratched. I personally like having a minimalist desk, so Oakywood’s Vertical Stand has become one of my most frequently used accessories.

Buy: Oakywood Vertical Stand at $59

2. Plugable Thunderbolt Doc

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Dock

Amazon

Plugable’s latest Thunderbolt 3 Dock solves the MacBook’s biggest issue: A lack of ports.

Connect this accessory to your laptop and you’ll have access to a wide variety of commonly used inputs. The dock has a USB-A port and a headphone jack on its front side for easy access. Around the back you’ll find four additional USB-A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and one DisplayPort.

Plugable’s dock allows you to connect nine accessories to your Mac at once. If you like using external displays, or don’t want to fuss with single-purpose dongles, this will quickly become your favorite MacBook Accessory. As a bonus, the dock will also charge your MacBook at full speed when it’s connected.

The main reason I’m recommending Plugable’s Thunderbolt 3 dock is its raw functionality, but it has nice aesthetic touches, too. The aluminum frame matches the look and feel of Apple’s hardware, and it comes with a stand, so you can position it vertically. This dock looks and feels professional while providing the functionality I need to get my daily work done.

Buy: Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Dock at $229.00

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.

3. LG UltraFine 27-Inch 5K Monitor

LG UltraFine 5K

Amazon

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.

Buy: LG UltraFine 5K at $1,299.95

4. Twelve South MagicBridge

Twleve South MagicBridge

Amazon

If you use Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, Twelve South’s MagicBridge is an indispensable accessory.

It works like a shell that connects both of Apple’s accessories together, holding them in place with durable plastic tabs. Using the MagicBridge will clean up your desk, and allow you to use Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad on your lap. This is great if you want to control your MacBook while it’s connected to a TV or external display.

I’ve gotten a chance to use the MagicBridge, and it works very well. I had no problem getting my accessories into and out of Twelve South’s shell, and was impressed at how sturdy it felt once everything was in place.

Twelve South’s attention to detail is also present: cutouts on the back of the MagicBridge give you easy access to the keyboard and trackpad’s power switches and Lightning charging ports. This is true whether you have the keyboard on the left and trackpad on the right, or vice versa.

If you use Apple’s Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, Twelve South’s MagicBridge makes it possible to use them in new and interesting ways.

Buy: Twelve South MagicBridge at $46.88

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.

5. Moft Z Invisible Thin Sit-Stand Desk

MOFT Z Invisible Thin Sit-Stand Desk

Moft

Moft’s Invisible Thin Sit-Stand Desk is the most innovative MacBook stand I have ever used.

By folding it in different ways, you can use the Moft Z in five  configurations, which range from holding your laptop at a 25 degree angle to transforming into a stand that’s nearly a foot tall. It takes a few minutes to master the Z’s folding technique, but once you do, you’ll be all set.

I mostly used the Moft Z in its standing position, so I could take breaks from sitting all day without interrupting my work. Moft says this stand can hold up to 18 pounds of gear without tipping over, but the MacBook Pro I use weighs just over three, so I didn’t get to put that claim to the test.

The Moft Z is ultra thin when it’s completely folded up, which is one of the reasons I can recommend it so highly. It’s portable enough to take with you on any trip (just slip it into a backpack beside your MacBook), but performs the same tasks as a bulky standing desk riser.

If you like to switch up how you work throughout the day, Moft’s Z Invisible Thin Sit-Stand Desk is a must-have accessory.

Buy: Moft Z at $59.99

6. Nomad Leather Sleeve

Nomad Leather Sleeve

Nomad

The MacBook Pro is a premium laptop, so it deserves to be kept in a premium case. Our top pick is Nomad’s Leather Sleeve, which is made from Horween leather that patinas over time. Instead of looking worn out, Nomad’s sleeve becomes distinguished.

One of this sleeve’s best features is the 48 magnet array built into its top lip, which keeps the sleeve shut while it’s in transit. We’ve used the 13-inch version of Nomad’s sleeve, and our MacBook Pro never popped out. Another nice touch is the notch in the upper-righthand corner of the sleeve, which leaves the MacBook Pro’s USB-C ports uncovered. That way, you can charge your laptop without keeping out.

A MacBook Pro is a serious investment, and if you’d like a case that’ll last as long as your computer does without getting dirty or damaged, Nomad’s Leather Sleeve is the right choice.

Buy: Nomad Leather Sleeve at From $199.95

7. Satechi 108W 3-Port Wall Charger

Satechi 108W 3-Port Wall Charger

Amazon

 

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), Satechi’s 108W 3-Port Wall Charger is an improvement in a couple of big ways.

The first is that it can charge three devices at once, which makes it handy if you travel often. Instead of taking three separate high-power chargers, you can take this one. The second is that its maximum power output of 108W is more than enough to charge most gadgets at their highest possible speed. The exception is Apple’s newly-released 16-inch MacBook Pro.

The second difference is that Satechi’s charger is smaller, which makes it easy to carry around in your laptop case or bag. This makes it easier to take with you to and from an office or school with a hybrid working environment. If you’re picking up a second charger for your MacBook Pro, or replacing the one that came with your laptop, this is the one we recommend.

Buy: Satechi 108W 3-Port Wall Charger at $84.99

8. Anker PowerCore III Elite

Anker PowerCore III Elite

Anker

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.

Anker’s PowerCore III Elite 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.

Buy: Anker PowerCore III Elite at $97.99

9. Logitech M557 Bluetooth Mouse

Logitech M557

Logitech

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.

Buy: Logitech M557 Bluetooth Mouse at $30.99

10. Fluance Ai61

Fluance Ai61

Amazon

Fluance’s latest powered computer speakers are a natural complement to the MacBook.

They look great, with classy, wooden cabinets and big, bold-looking drivers. Aesthetics are great, but its the Ai61’s sound that makes this such a great set of speakers. You’ll hear seep, rich bass, smooth midrange, and clear-but-not-crisp treble every time you play a track. These are our favorite bookshelf speakers of 2021, and it’s hard to think about how they could be improved.

You can connect the Ai61s to your computer via a USB-C cable (supplied), or stream to them wirelessly over Bluetooth. These speakers also feature RCA and optical audio inputs, so you can connect them to a TV or turntable alongside your machine.

If you listen to music while you work, or your job involves audio mixing, Fluances’ Ai61s are the upgrade your setup deserves.

Buy: Fluance Ai61 at $299.99

11. Samsung T7 Touch Portable SSD

Samsung T7

Amazon

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.

Buy: Samsung T7 Touch at $89.99

12. Logitech Brio Webcam

Logitech Brio

Logitech

Apple has focused on improving the built-in webcam on its computers, but none of them can hold a candle to Logitech’s Brio.

We’ve tested the 4K webcam for several months, and it’s impressed us with its visual clarity, even in low-light situations. It’s performed perfectly when using Zoom, FaceTime, High Five, and Skype. Our testing has happened exclusively on Macs using the current and previous version of macOS.

One of the best things about the Brio is it’s totally plug and play. Connect it to your Mac’s USB-A or USB-C port, and it’s ready to go. You have the option to download Logitech’s Control app, which gives you access to manual settings if you want to dial in your white balance, or create the perfect crop for video calls.

We depend on Logitech’s Brio several times a week to ensure we look professional during meetings, or crystal clear while catching up with family and friend. It’s never let us down.

Buy: Logitech Brio at $159.08

13. Elevation Hub

Elevation Hub

Amazon

Apple infamously dropped every port except for USB-C with their laptops from 2016 through 2021, but Elevation Labs has a crafty way to get them back.

The Elevation Hub is a multi-port adapter that connects to your MacBook’s power brick. It’ll pass through power, so you can still charge your laptop at its maximum speed, but also contains a full-sized USB-A port and SD Card slot. Most hubs plug into one of your laptop’s USB-C ports, which can feel a little clunky, but the Elevation Hub’s design makes it easy to take with you. Also, you won’t have accessories tethered to your computer cluttering your workspace.

In terms of sheer innovation, Elevation Lab’s Hub is one of the coolest tech accessories we’ve seen lately.

Buy: Elevation Hub at $49.95

14. Native Union Type-C Belt Cable Pro

Native Union Type-C Belt Cable Pro

Amazon

You’re probably going to charge your MacBook every day, so you’ll need a cable that can keep up with those demands without fraying.

Native Union’s Belt Cable Pro has a braided nylon coating, with re-enforced shielding around the connectors to prevent fraying. Native Union says this cable can handle 10,000 bends during its lifetime, which means it should last longer than your machine. This claim is backed up by a limited lifetime warranty.

What really sets Native Union’s cable apart from most other USB-C cables is its maximum charging speed of 100W. Many cables top out at 60W, which means you won’t get a full-speed charge even if you’re plugged into a strong power adapter.

A dead cable can be a major problem if you’re traveling for work, or need a quick charge before heading out for the day. You can avoid that stress by picking up the Belt Cable Pro.

Buy: Native Union Type-C Belt Cable Pro at $29.99

15. Basqi Aluminum microSD Adapter

BaseQi Aluminum microSD Adapter

Amazon

If you own a 2021 MacBook Pro, or any Apple computer with an SD Card Slot, BaseQi’s microSD Adapter is a necessity. This accessory allows you to add more storage to your machine, an upgrade that isn’t possible otherwise. Here’s how it works: You pop a MicroSD card into BaseQi’s adapter (we recommend Samsung’s new Evo Plus cards), then insert the adapter into your computer’s full-sized SD Card slot.

The adapter sits flush inside your computer, so it won’t protrude when you’re carrying your computer around. You can double, triple, or even quadruple your computer’s storage using this method. The caveat is that reading and writing data to a MicroSD card is slower than the SSD inside your computer. It’s best to use the BaseQi to store smaller files like your music or video library, which won’t be transferred to and from your machine very often.

Buy: BaseQi Aluminum microSD Adapter at $70.27

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