Your shiny new 16-inch MacBook Pro arrives this week, and of course you want to deck it out with all the latest accessories. What you need will depend on what you use your computer for, but almost everyone will want a case, a keyboard and a mouse. And there are plenty of other MacBook Pro accessories you might need to get the job done.
Check out our guide for dongles, cables and even battery packs that will help you get the most out of your new MacBook Pro.
Great MacBook Pro accessories
This won’t be the usual supposedly authoritative list of junk, either ripped off from somebody else’s list or cobbled together from a hasty Google search in answer to an editor’s request. In fact, these may not even be the best accessories available. What follows is a list of my own favorites. I’ve either used these, used versions of these1, or — in the case of the MacBook sleeve — know the people who make them. Let’s get started.
The 16-inch MBP’s new/old Magic Keyboard is great, but using a notebook computer on a desk, while peering down at the screen, is ergonomically bad. You can’t lift up the screen only, so you’ll have to put the whole MacBook up on a stand, bringing it to eye level, and use an external keyboard and mouse/trackpad.
I like the Roost stand. It’s not cheap, but I still have the first-gen version and it’s as good as it was when new. The Roost is like a folding scaffold for your MacBook, and is light, stable and cool-looking.
Buy from: Amazon — $74.95
Mouse and keyboard
If you use a stand, you’ll need a mouse and keyboard. I used to recommend the Logitech K811, but that’s no longer inn production. So instead, I’d go for either Apple’s own Magic Keyboard, after which the new MacBook Pro’s keyboard is modeled, or the Keychron K2, a clicky, mechanical Bluetooth keyboard with switchable Mac layout, Mac-specific buttons and iOS compatibility.
Buy from: Amazon — $74.99
As for mice, I like the little Logitech MX Anywhere 2S, which is super-portable and can switch between up to three devices (it works with the iPad, too). But you may also consider Apple’s own Magic Trackpad 2, so you don’t lose macOS’ great gesture support.
Buy from: Amazon — $59.99
Most backpacks include a notebook compartment, and most of those will fit your new machine. The old previous-generation-but-one MacBook Pro was comparable in size to the new 16-incher, so it should fit in any case marked for a 15-inch notebook.
Buy from: WaterField Designs — various prices
Best cables for MacBook Pro
If this is your first USB-C device, you may need lots of new cables. For these, I always buy Anker. The cables are cheaper than Apple’s, tougher and better than Apple’s, and they look super-cool, with their braided covers. As for specifics, consider a 6-foot USB-C cable for charging. (USB-C data cables should be shorter, for maximum data speed.) You also might want a USB-C-to-micro-USB cable to connect older gadgets — like a Kindle — to your Mac (and charge them). The great part of USB-C is that all the accessories are also compatible with the iPad Pro.
Buy from: Amazon — $15.97
Finally, make sure you grab Anker’s USB-C to USB-A dongle, a tiny connector that lets you keep using all your old gear with the new MacBook.
Buy from: Amazon — $9.99
MacBook Pro hub/dock
No list of best MacBook Pro accessories would be complete without a USB-C hub or dock. However, there are two ways to go here. You can get a powered, desktop version, or a portable version that requires a separate power supply. If you mainly use the MacBook in one place, then hooking up all your accessories to a powered dock makes lots of sense. With one USB-C connection to your MacBook Pro, you can connect a monitor, keyboard, external drives and so on, as well as powering the Mac. I have used an i-Tec hub that works very well, and matches the Mac.
Smaller hubs usually come with a stubby, integrated cable, plus a USB-C PD — power-delivery — port, to which you hook up an external power supply if needed. For this type, I like the Kingston Nucleum for ultimate USB compatibility. You could also try Anker hubs, which are all nicely built. (For more on these hubs, check out our dedicated article.)
Buy from: Amazon — $49.98
Best MacBook Pro charger
The charger that comes with your MacBook Pro is fine, but what about a more portable version? Or a charger that can juice several other devices at the same time? For my iPad, I use the Anker 5-port USB-C charger, which offers one 30-watt USB-C port, but that’s not really enough to charge the MacBook. For that, you want at least 60 watts, and preferably 80 watts or more.
I’ve never needed such a charger before, so I will defer to Wirecutter on this. The most suitable charger seems to be the Nekteck 5-Port 111W USB Wall Charger, which puts out 87 watts through the USB-C port. That’s enough to power the large MacBook Pro, and up to four other devices via USB-A ports. It’s listed as a “desktop” charger, but it’s still more portable than a standard MacBook Pro charger plus sundry phone and gadget chargers carried together.
Buy from: Amazon — $49.99
Thanks to USB-C, it’s possible to buy a battery power pack that can charge a notebook computer. The ZMI PowerPack 20000 can put out 40 watts via USB-C, as well as charging other gadgets via USB-A. Unusually, it also works as a USB hub, so you can use it to connect to SSD drives and other devices while powering them. This is another Wirecutter pick, but I have owned one for quite some time now and I recommend it.ZMI PowerPack 20000
Unless you’re already set up with Time Machine, or some other local backup, you’re going to need a backup drive. It should be at least as big as the SSD in your MacBook Pro, and for speed, silence and small size, you might prefer an external SSD. The universally popular choice is Samsung’s T5 series, which are small, affordable (as SSDs go), and reliable. They’re also on sale much of the time, which helps. (If you need Mac backup software, choose between Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper. Both are excellent.)
Buy from: Amazon — $89.99
SD card reader
Folks who wish Apple added an SD card reader to its latest laptop might include a separate dongle on a list of best MacBook Pro accessories. But if you want an SD card reader, just buy a hub with one included. My picks — the Anker and the Kingston — both include one.
Bonus tip: If you own a hub with an SD card reader that you never use, stick one of those flush-mounted microSD adapters into the slot, stick in a high-capacity microSD card, and you have just turned the hub into a small external USB-C backup drive.
iPad and Apple Pencil!
Yes, the iPad and Apple Pencil can now be classed as Mac accessories. Thanks to macOS Catalina’s Sidecar feature, you can use an iPad as a secondary display for your MacBook. And if you own an Apple Pencil, you can use that, too. This lets you use the Pencil to draw in Photoshop, sign contracts, and so on. It also lets you sit on the couch and use Mac apps wirelessly on the iPad. It’s probably not worth buying an iPad and Pencil just for this, but then again, it’s still cheaper and more useful than a Wacom Cintiq.
Buy from: Amazon — $729.00
Do you need MacBook Pro accessories?
Of course, you can just boot up your new 16-inch MacBook Pro and get going without any of these accessories. That’s kind of the point of a notebook computer. But if you do need something, then everything on the list above is a great choice. Have fun!
- With one exception: I’ve never needed or used a third-party USB-C notebook power brick, so I took Wirecutter’s advice. Because Wirecutter is awesome. ↩