5 must-have MacBook Pro (2017) accessories

I’ve been working with some of the software and accessories for the latest MacBook Pro. Here are five items I think you’ll find useful.

Apple, Mac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, USB-C
Apple

I’ve been using a MacBook Pro with touch bar for a few months — you can read about my experiences with it here and pick up a few usage hints here. I’ve also been working with some of the software and accessories you can pick up for these systems. Here are five items I think you’ll find useful.

Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock

I love the convenience of portability when I’m using my MacBook Pro on the road, but when I’m back at base I like to hook it up to a decent monitor and my existing accessories.

Apple took a certain amount of criticism when it decided to move to USB-C (which it calls "Thunderbolt 3") on its new Macs, but this clever docking station lets you add a whole bunch of older accessories to your system using just one cable.

In my case, I have Ethernet, a display and an older high-capacity USB 3 storage drive permanently hooked up to my Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock. I just connect my MacBook Pro to my office arsenal using a single cable when I’m around, and use it independently when I’m not.

I do like that this system will power up my Mac (over the same cable as everything else) and will continue to power up any connected devices when the Mac is no longer present. It costs around $300.

SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive USB Type-C

Flash drives are one of the easiest ways to securely share data with people in the same room: plug them in and take the data off. The problem is the MacBook Pro uses USB-C, while most everyone else is still on USB 3. That’s no problem at all with SanDisk’s handy little flash drive, which hosts both a USB-C and USB-3 connection that you set with a slider on the device. This dual connectivity makes it really easy to swap files with others as and when you want to do so. It costs around $20 on Amazon.

Twelve South ParcSlope Stand

If you do lots of work on your notebook, you may want to invest in a stand to hold the system up at a more appropriate working angle. That’s what Twelve South ParcSlope stand does, angling your computer to around 18-degrees.

This angle makes it a little easier for you to reach the right keys and also makes it a little easier to see the display without tilting your neck quite so much. The other advantage of stands like these is that they increase airflow around the base of your Mac. ($49.99).

A card reader

If you use a digital camera, then you’ll want a portable SD/microSD card reader. Satechi’s Aluminum Type-C Micro/SD Card Reader costs just $25 and accepts both SD and microSD cards. Plug it into your Mac, and you can easily grab your images to edit immediately on your computer.

Software essentials

Finally, a couple of software recommendations. While there are many alternatives, including Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote, for most knowledge workers, the productivity market continues to be defined by Microsoft’s Office products. The latest Office 365 version of Microsoft’s productivity suite (from $99.95/year) integrates a range of touch bar-friendly features, which should help you get things done faster.

The second recommendation is a little controversial, but I do feel that any Mac user working in a cross-platform environment may be able to make a little use of Parallels Desktop 13.

Equipped with these two items (Office and — effectively — Windows) any Mac user can operate on an equal footing in even the most dyed-in-the-wool Microsoft-dominated environments. Parallels Desktop 13 costs $79.99, plus the cost of the operating system(s) you wish to use on your machine.

One more thing

I’ve chosen to avoid discussing cables, dongles, keyboards and displays in this short report — partly because the Elgato dock means you should be able to use anything you like with your Mac and partly because you probably already have a display and older Apple Bluetooth keyboard around that will work just fine with your Mac.  

What are the MacBook Pro accessories you can’t live without? Let me know via Twitter.

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