The best accessories for your new 16-inch MacBook Pro

By

WaterField Designs Executive Leather Laptop Briefcase
Bag 'em! It's time to accessorize that monster laptop.
Photo: WaterField Designs

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.

Get your MacBook Pro’s Escape key back without spending $3,000

By

Escape the Touch Bar's tyranny by restoring your MacBook Pro Escape key.
Find out how to escape the Touch Bar's tyranny.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Escape key is pretty essential to the Mac. You can use it to, well, escape from the current window/view/text field. You can use it to dismiss some dialog boxes. It can even be used to force-quit an unresponsive app. And that’s before we get to the Vim text editor, which is as dependent on the Escape key as Jony Ive is on new kinds of aluminum. So why did Apple remove the physical MacBook Pro Escape key when it introduced the Touch Bar?

Apple made that move, much to the despair of some users, back in 2016. Now, in the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, the Escape key is back. But what if you have a perfectly good previous-gen MacBook Pro? Are you really going to spend close to $3,000 just to get your Escape key back? No, you are not. Instead, you are going to repurpose the Caps Lock key, and turn it into an Escape key.

The MacBook is a disaster. Can Apple fix it?

By

Macbook problems
The Mac is in serious trouble. Can Apple fix things before it’s too late?
Photo: Ales Nesetril/Unsplash

Despite the endless disappointments with iPadOS 13, there’s still no way I’d switch to a MacBook right now. MacBooks (and MacBook Pros) were always the gold (or aluminum?) standard for laptops — reliable, well-designed and long-lasting. Reviewers would even recommend that PC users buy a Mac and install Windows on it via Boot Camp. But today, MacBooks problems abound.

Apple’s laptops are a sorry bunch. And it’s not just the troublesome butterfly keyboard. Every week, I read tweets and blog posts about freelancers and employees of big companies alike losing valuable time as their MacBooks go back for repair for the third or fourth time. So what is happening? What are the biggest problems with today’s MacBooks? And can these MacBook problems be fixed?

This cute, rubberized keyboard packs proper piano-style keys

By

Arturia MicroLab
Looks small, feels big.
Photo: Arturia

This is the new MicroLab from Arturia. It’s a USB MIDI keyboard you can hook up to your Mac, your iPad or your iPhone. It’s tiny — but how does it differ from the zillion other portable MIDI keyboards littering the pages of Amazon? Two ways.

One is that it has a bunch of clever design features that make it great for travel or small desktop setups. The other is that it has big, proper, velocity-sensitive keys, instead of the stupid junky keys on almost every similar MIDI keyboard.

Patterning’s new shortcuts transform iPad keyboard into drum kit

By

Street drummer with buckets
This guy makes better music with buckets than I can manage with any app.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Patterning is probably the best drum machine app on the iPad, and one of the best iOS music apps, period. Which makes it criminal that we’ve never written a dedicated post about it. That can change today, because the developer, Olympia Noise Co., just added keyboard shortcuts.

Wait, come back! These aren’t just any keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts let you use your iPad’s Smart Folio Keyboard, or any Bluetooth keyboard, to fingerdrum on the iPad.

Learners will love Roli’s colorful, light-up piano keyboard

By

musician playing roli lumi
Look at how much fun it is to play. Just look.
Photo: Roli

Roli is best known for its squishy, multitouch, pressure-sensitive music keyboards and controllers. Those are great. But the new Roli Lumi goes in a different direction. It’s a small portable keyboard with light-up keys. And not the kind of light-up keys you might see in a movie set during the 1970s disco scene: These light up keys help you learn to play the piano.

Piano lessons will never be the same.

Apple Pencil and QuickPath floating keyboard revolutionize iPad typing

By

What can't the iPad do in iPadOS?
What can't the iPad do in iPadOS?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Were you ever drawing a diagram in the Notes app, and then realized you needed to type a note? Did you then find yourself frustrated at having to drop the Apple Pencil and type on the huge, half-screen QWERTY keyboard?

With iPadOS 13, Apple has removed that frustration. You still can’t do Newton-style handwriting and have it turn into text. But you can shrink the keyboard to a tiny floating panel, and use the Apple Pencil to swipe-type on it.

Wildly customizable keyboard unleashes iPad creativity

By

The new Buchla Thunder layout for the Sensel Morph.
The new Buchla Thunder layout for the Sensel Morph.
Photo: Sensel

The Sensel Morph is a different kind of “keyboard” for the iPad or Mac. It’s a pressure-sensitive panel onto which you can slap various silicone overlays, turning it from a QWERTY keyboard into a piano, a movie-editing controller or many other specialized interfaces.

It’s a customizable, wildly imaginative input device designed for musicians, video editors, illustrators, writers and other creative types.