Best MacBook Accessories 2021: External Monitor, SSD, Speakers, Mouse - Rolling Stone
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From Sleeves to Screens, We Found 12 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 $199.00

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 $1,279.99

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 $46.07

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. ProCase Laptop Sleeve Case

ProCase Laptop Sleeve

Amazon

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.

Buy: ProCase Laptop Sleeve at $17.99

7. AUKEY Omnia USB C Charger

AUKEY Omnia 100W 2-Port PD 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), 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.

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 $139.99

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 $35.99

10. Edifier R1280DBs Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers

Edifier R1280DBs

Edifier

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

They look sharp, and you can connect to them with a cable, or wirelessly over Bluetooth if you prefer to keep your work area clean. The R1280SBs’ other inputs, a coaxial in, optical audio in, and Line in, allow you to use them as part of your home theater, too.

I’ve had the opportunity to check the speakers out, and they sound pretty good. If you really like bass I recommend connecting them to a subwoofer, but they sounded pretty good overall. They sound especially good when listening to acoustic instruments, but can get a little murky sounding if you’re listening to a track with a lot of distortion.

You can adjust the speakers’ bass and treble by twisting knobs built into the left cabinet. This feature makes it easy to tweak the speakers’ sound to your liking, and is especially welcome if you like listening to music from different genres. The option to add some low or high end on the fly can come in handy.

The MacBook isn’t known for having exquisite speakers, so if you want a pair that do your favorite songs justice, this is the pair we recommend.

Buy: Edifier R1280DBs at $139.99

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. AUKEY PC-W3 Webcam

AUKEY Webcam

Amazon

One of the only downsides to using a laptop as your main computer is its so-so webcam, and that problem even extends to MacBooks. Looking blurry on video calls to colleagues is unprofessional, but you can fix that problem with Aukey’s newest webcam.

It can stream video at full, 1080P HD, so you’ll look ultra crisp. Its light sensors will make sure you’re always well lit, and its auto color-correction will make you look even more detailed. Auto brightness and color correction aren’t features you typically find in a webcam under $50.

While this webcam is primarily designed to make you look better, it’ll also make you sound better thanks to a pair of stereo microphones built into the camera itself. These mics automatically reduce noise, so people hear you instead of your environment.

If you’ve been spending a lot of time on web chat apps lately, and are ready to improve your video setup, Aukey’s webcam is a great, affordable solution.

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