I’ve been using an old mid-2012 MacBook Pro for years and it still performs okay, except that the battery starts to drain quickly.
I only made one major upgrade: replaced the internal hard drive with a new solid-state drive (Crucial MX500 SSD), which boosted my MacBook performance drastically. I also purchased a ton of accessories along my Mac journey.
My partner Lorena proposed creating a page featuring a list of the best accessories for MacBook Pro, which was a great idea. And here we are!
In this list (updated 2021), we’re going to show you the best hardware and software upgrades you should consider for both new and old Macbook Pro, and the best accessories you can add to your shopping list to get the best out of your Mac machine.
Note: we’ve personally bought and used many of the items below, and recommend them because they are useful. You don’t need to get all of them, obviously — they might break the bank! 🙂
Some accessories are for specific models only. Just select those that fit your needs at the moment and don’t overspend on things you think you’ll use but leave in a corner somewhere after using them once (sound familiar?)
Reading tip: use the Table of Contents below to help navigate to the right categories.
Now that you’ve bought a MacBook Pro and are used to the Apple macOS system, what’s next? Get some basic accessories other Mac fans are also using! Below is a long list that you may consider, depending on whether you own an old MacBook or a new one.
Cases & Protection
If you’re new to MacBook Pro, the first thing you should do is get some protection for your laptop. You’ll need at a backpack or bag, or a hard case or sleeve. Choose the item(s) that best fit your need as well as your personal taste and sense of style.
A backpack is best for those who travel or work with a MacBook. They can also carry other digital gears like a tablet, a camera, or an iPhone. Incase ICON Lite Pack is one of the best out there. It’s sleek, clean-looking, and comfortable to wear with the padded shoulder straps. You may consider The North Face Unisex Jester and eBags Professional Flight Laptop Backpack. More options here.
A messenger or brief bag is another great way to protect your MacBook Pro for everyday commuting and traveling. AmazonBasics Shoulder Bag is the best choice. You may also like Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag or this briefcase bag from ProCase.
Hard Shell Cases
If you want to protect your MacBook Pro from scratches or personalize it with your favorite colors or stickers, you should get a shell. We recommend this one from ProCase as it also comes with a keyboard skin cover. The Se7enline MacBook Pro Soft-Touch Plastic Hard Case is also a good choice.
If you want to protect your MacBook against drops or cracks, get a sleeve made with sufficient padding to offset normal drop damage. tomtoc 360° Protective Laptop Sleeve is our favorite. You may also like Incase Classic Sleeve, and this water-resistant one from Mosiso.
We also have a review of the best MacBook sleeves here.
Power, Adapters & Cables
If you’re using an old MacBook Pro, you know the battery charge doesn’t last as long. Adapters or cables wear out with time. You may want to replace them. If you’re using a new generation MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, your MacBook has either two or four USB-C ports (depending on the model) that support Thunderbolt 3.
You’ll face problems connecting your old peripherals. Thankfully, Apple offers a number of adapters and converting cables to take care of it. Some of the items come with your Mac when you purchase it; you may want to get an extra one just in case.
Over time, your MacBook battery will wear down, meaning you’ll need to charge it more often. In some cases (e.g. traveling or commuting), you are unable to do so. That’s why a portable power bank is awesome. It will help extend the battery life of your laptop and allow you to get more work done.
USB-C to USB Adapter
If your devices are not USB-C compatible, then you would need to get an adapter to connect standard USB enabled devices such as keyboards, flash drives, or mouses to your MacBook Pro. Get this one from AmazonBasics.
USB‑C Power Adapter
Getting an extra power adapter saves a lot hassle when you often forget to bring it home, to the office, or wherever you go. Apple’s USB-C Power Adapter offers fast and efficient charging. Apple also recommends pairing it with your 13-inch MacBook Pro with USB-C ports for optimal charging performance.
USB-C to Lightning Cable
This adapter lets you connect your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) to the latest USB-C MacBook for data transfer or charging your Apple Magic Mouse 2. You can get an original from Apple Online Store, or this one made by Anker.
USB-C Memory Card Reader
The new MacBook Pro comes with no SD card slot, meaning if you are a photographer who uses SD or other camera cards, you’ll need a card reader compatible with USB-C ports on your MacBook Pro. Cable Matters USB 3.1 Type-C Dual Slot Card Reader is a nice one that fits all kinds of SD cards.
All-in-one USB-C Hub
If you have a number of external peripherals to connect to your MacBook Pro and feel the built-in ports aren’t enough, this USB-C Hub from HooToo allows you to charge your Mac, connect keyboards or memory cards, stream videos to TV via HDMI, and much more.
You can also take a look at our best docking station review for more.
Cleaning & Cooling
MacBooks, like other tech gadgets, are prone to dust and dirt build-up. When the heat sink gets stuffed, your computer may overheat very quickly. There are other situations when your Mac can overheat – for example, improper placement and runaway apps. That’s why you should keep your laptop clean and cool by putting it in an air-conditioned area. But there are other tools you can use to protect your MacBook Pro from overheating as well.
You might have heard this before, but there are a lot of considerations for choosing the best cooling pad for your MacBook Pro: size, weight, how quiet the fans are, turbo boost, etc. At the current market, most cool pads are based on USB and I recommend TeckNet Portable Ultra-Slima, and The Kootek Laptop Cooling Pad. Do note that you would need a USB to USB-C adapter for it to work.
All computers and digital devices are bound to get a bit dirty here and there, and they are not as resilient as they may seem. Cleaning your MacBook Pro screen and keyboard using a paper towel (or your finger) can damage the device. That’s why you need professional cleaning tools like EcoMoist Natural Organic Screen Cleaner and Dust-Off Disposable Compressed Gas Duster. Learn more from this best screen cleaner roundup we curated.
Note: when you’re cleaning, it’s best to shut down your Mac and unplug the power adapter just in case.
For Productivity & Health
Machines are machines. They help you do more only when you know how to use them properly. What do we mean by “properly”? That means without affecting your health and productivity! That’s why you may find some of the following accessories worth checking out.
Display & Mounts
An external monitor or screen is extremely useful when you use a MacBook Pro for work and need to communicate with colleagues in the same office. Meanwhile, a mount or stand allows you adjust the screen to eye level so you can improve working comfort and reduce strain — all good for your health.
Depending on your MacBook Pro model, you may want to check whether your MacBook supports Ultra HD resolution before buying a 4K/5K display (see this Apple support article for more). Also, if your new MacBook has Thunderbolt 3.0, you may want to get a monitor that supports USB Type-C. That said, here’s a great list of options to choose from:
- LG 27UK850-W 27″ 4K UHD IPS Monitor with HDR10 with USB Type-C Connectivity and FreeSync
- Dell U3417W FR3PK 34-Inch Screen Led-Lit Monitor
- Philips BDM4350UC 43″ Brilliance Monitor
A stand can elevate your MacBook and help you view the screen more comfortably, as well as enhance venting to avoid overheating. See this article to learn more about whether or not you’ll need a laptop stand. As for the best stand that fits your notebook and personal style, consider those options:
Note: If you also decide to purchase an external display for your MacBook, you may be interested in getting a vertical laptop stand like VOGEK Vertical Laptop Stand to save space.
Mice & Keyboards
All laptops, including MacBook Pro, don’t come with a mouse or external keyboard–but there are times you may find yourself needing those devices to work more efficiently. For many, a mouse especially is important–it’s much easier and more comfortable to use than the built-in trackpad.
If you’re used to an external mouse, it’s definitely worth it to buy one for your MacBook Pro so you’re not banging your head when the trackpad is too slow. We love Apple Magic Mouse 2 because we’ve never had issues like freezing, disconnecting, etc. You may want to take a look at VicTsing Wireless Mouse, or AmazonBasics Wireless Mouse that comes with a mouse pad for wrist rest. You can also read our favorite mouse roundup review here.
Note: Although the mouse are wireless, charging requires compatible ports and most non-Apple mouse are based on USB port. That means would need to use a USB to USB-C adapter.
If you don’t want to limit yourself with the small built-in keyboard on your MacBook Pro, or if you’ve elevated your Mac with a stand, you probably need an external keyboard. If the Apple style fits you, consider Magic Keyboard or Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad. If you prefer a PC-style keyboard, consider Logitech K750 Wireless Solar Keyboard and Azio Retro USB Mechanical Keyboard. See more options here.
Note: For non-Apple keyboard you may need to use a USB to USB-C adapter.
Headphones & Speakers
Are you used to having headphones or speakers whenever you’re at work or leisure? Below are some of our favorites.
There’s a lot to consider while choosing headphones that fit your style. Color, weight, sound quality, in-ear or around-ear, wireless or not, etc. all matter. We can’t recommend which ones you should use, but Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H6 Over-Ear Headphones, Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones, and of course, Apple AirPods are all worth considering.
A set of external speakers can make your favorite songs, podcasts, and movies come to life, turning your MacBook Pro into the ultimate entertainment rig. Check out these great options below or this article for more.
- Audioengine A2 Plus 60W Powered Desktop Speakers
- Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers
- Bose Soundwear Companion Wireless Wearable Speaker
For Data Security
These days, data stored on your Mac are probably much more valuable than the computer itself. You can’t afford to lose data or “share” it unexpectedly. However, like every other kind of technology, storage media (i.e. the internal hard drive or solid state drive) can be used up or die any day. What do you do? Back it up and protect it. Don’t forget to get a laptop lock as well. The following accessories are great for data protection.
Storage & Backup
We all know the importance of data backup, and there are a variety of ways to do this, such as via online backup services and external drives. Most of us prefer the latter for privacy and convenience, and we recommend them as well. If you’re into Apple products, consider AirPort Time Capsule.
If you’re on a budget, consider buying an external drive and choose to back up selected individual files or the whole Mac system via Time Machine (see this official guide from Apple). Consider these (New and Old MacBook): Samsung T5 Portable SSD USB 3.1 and WD 2TB My Passport for Mac Portable.
Also LaCie Rugged USB-C 2TB External Hard Drive if you are okay with USB-C port only for your new MacBook.
A privacy screen protector is particularly useful when you use your MacBook Pro in public, or at work, and display sensitive information you want to protect. The best filters mount to your MacBook screen so that only people right in front of your MacBook display can see the content, while strangers or coworkers will only see a black screen. If you’ve decided a privacy screen is needed, consider Kensington MP13 MacBook Magnetic Privacy Screen or PYS MacBook Pro 13 Screen Privacy.
If you’ve got an old MacBook Pro (any model between 2008 to 2012), you can boost its performance by simply adding or replacing the old components like RAM and hard drive. I use a mid-2012 MacBook Pro (with 8GB memory and a 512 GB Hitachi hard drive), and I managed to improve its performance by upgrading the hard drive to a new SSD which is faster and more reliable.
Add Extra RAM
Adding extra memory will help your Mac run applications faster, so consider doing this if your old MacBook is slow in responding to commonly used apps like Photos, iMovie, etc. Depending on your MacBook Pro model and its configuration, you may be able to add an extra 2GB or 4GB RAM. See this post Best RAM for MacBook Pro for more information.
Upgrade to SSD
There are many advantages to SSDs (solid state drives) over HDDs (hard disk drives). In general, SSDs are speedy, faster, and quieter. Most old MacBook Pros (prior to 2012) are loaded with a spinning hard drive (2.5-inch), but you can replace it with an SSD. As for the best SSDs, consider:
- Crucial MX500
- Samsung SSD 860 EVO
- Samsung 860 PRO (recommended for power users)
- WD Blue 3D NAND (recommended for power users)
Software & Apps
Unlike hardware or real accessories you can touch, software is sort of “invisible”. But don’t underestimate the power of software or apps, because you literally can’t live without them. There are plenty of well-developed apps that can help increase productivity or protect your MacBook. Here is a list of great ones:
Microsoft Office for Mac
If you just switched from a PC to Mac, you probably used Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more back in the PC age. Luckily, Microsoft also offers the Office suite for macOS, cutting out the learning curve for Apple iWork.
Setapp is an app subscription service for the Mac, like “Netflix for software”. It includes a collection of the best Mac apps in a single folder, saving you time and money.
Parallels Desktop for Mac
This virtual machine app allows you to run Windows 10 on your Mac. How cool is that? If you need to work with programs that are specifically for PCs, get this app immediately.
Running out of disk space on your Mac? CleanMyMac is the best storage cleaning app. It can help you reclaim tons of storage so you can save your most important stuff like photos and videos.
Bitdefender for Mac
Did you fear viruses and malware attacks back in the PC days? Get this program installed on your Mac. Though Apple macOS has built-in features to keep Macs safe and is generally considered more secure than Windows, Macs are still vulnerable. It’s best to have a powerful antivirus software on your Mac!
Adobe Creative Cloud
A must-have for professional photographers. Creative Cloud is packed with apps like Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere, etc. for graphic design, video editing, and much more.
Intuit QuickBooks Desktop For Mac
If you are a small- or medium-sized business owner dealing with payroll, sales and tax stuff is boring. But with Quickbooks, your life will be much easier.
Last updated: Mar. 9, 2021