The Best Mac Accessories and Upgrades

Over the past six months, I’ve published quite a few tutorials to help Mac users improve the performance of older computers, as well as some great guides to the best Mac accessories across a variety of categories. Today, I’m tying them all together in this handy, one-stop roundup of the best Mac accessories and upgrades.

This guide walks you through everything: in one place, you can learn about the best Mac hard drives, RAM upgrades, docks, keyboards, trackpads, stands, bags, and travel accessories out there. And you can also get free apps to improve your Mac’s storage and responsiveness, find plain English explanations of your Mac’s technical specs, and learn about the little security screws Apple uses to tamper-proof its machines. There’s a lot inside, so you may want to bookmark this piece for future reference!…

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How-To: Boost your Mac’s speed and prolong its useful life with easy RAM upgrades

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As I’ve spotlighted over the past month, the best way to dramatically speed up an older Mac is to replace its old hard drive with a new solid state drive (SSD). The process is super-easy on MacBooks and Mac Pros, surprisingly manageable on iMacs, and challenging on Mac minis, yielding 3X to 5X speed boosts. But there’s another option that can speed things up with relatively little effort or expertise: upgrading your Mac’s RAM.

RAM upgrades are easy and cheap. You can expect to pay $90 or less for enough (Mac-safe) RAM to run OS X Yosemite without hiccups, or $180 for enough RAM to guarantee you won’t need more for years. Installing RAM generally doesn’t void your Mac’s warranty, and except for several models, the only tool you’ll need is a small screwdriver. Below, I’ll walk you through your best options.

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How-To: Update your old MacBook, Mac mini, or Mac Pro hard drive with a fast SSD

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My Mac is now silent. After installing a solid state drive (SSD) with no moving parts, the drone of my iMac’s hard drive and fans has given way to such an absence of sound that I only hear the high-pitched squeal of my office lights.

My Mac is now fast. Even with 400GB of available space, OS X Yosemite’s constant hard drive accessing had brought my quad-core, 3.4GHz Core i7 machine to its knees. Now I’m seeing five times the hard drive speeds, apps are loading instantly, and my iMac feels as responsive as the MacBooks and iPads that beat it to the SSD game.

Last week, buoyed by (finally!) reasonable SSD prices and a desire to try a DIY project, I walked through the steps to replace a prior-generation iMac’s hard drive with an SSD. Similarly excited readers have pointed out that older MacBooks and certain other Macs are also easy to upgrade… but at least one Mac (surprise: the Mac mini) is not. So below, I’ll show you some great SSD options that you can install yourself, ask a tech-savvy friend/repair shop to handle for you, or choose as external solutions.

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Hyper’s Black Friday: $50 off the world’s only external MacBook battery, $10 battery packs (Reg. $50), $2 iPad cases (Reg. $30), much more

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Hyper, the brand behind a number of popular Mac and iOS products we’ve reviewed in the past, is today offering its best deals ever for Black Friday. The sale includes big deals on external battery packs and other iOS accessories including the world’s only external MacBook battery.

Some of the notables: A $10 3600 mAh battery pack (Reg. $49), a $20 7200mAh battery pack (Reg. $70), and up to $50 off the company’s external battery for MacBooks. Head below for the full list of deals.  Read more

Mac mini teardowns are underway, with good news and bad news

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iFixit and MacminiVault have both completed their teardowns of the new Mac mini, with Macminicolo planning theirs soon.

We already knew the main bad news: soldered RAM means you can’t upgrade the memory later, so you have to decide how much you want and pay Apple’s pricing for it. Both iFixit and MacminiVault described replacing the RAM as “impossible.”

Getting access to the inside of the new Mac mini is more difficult than it used to be …  Read more

Recap: Everything you need to know about iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, and iMac with Retina 5K display (Video)

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Apple’s latest keynote was full of announcements for iPad and Mac enthusiasts. Apple has finally unveiled its second generation iPad Air, a slightly revised iPad mini, and the long rumored iMac with Retina display. Apple’s keynote went on for about 90 minutes, but in case you didn’t have time to sit through the entire thing, we’ve put together a recap to get you up to speed…

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Apple removes Mac mini server from sale, drops 2 TB storage option with new models

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With today’s updates to the Mac mini, Apple has made the decision to stop selling the “server” version of the computer. In doing so, the company has also lowered the maximum storage available in the machine from 2 TB to just 1 TB. The server model was also the first version of the Mac mini to forego the optical drive, though the change was soon carried over to the rest of the line.

The server model was created to supplant the Xserve, which was discontinued in 2010. It originally shipped with OS X Server preinstalled, but was later loaded instead with the consumer version of OS X. OS X Server was transitioned to the Mac App Store as a $19.99 purchase and the new Mac mini was moved to a more consumer-oriented setup.

If you’re looking to expand your Mac mini’s storage, you can always take advantage of those new Thunderbolt 2 ports.

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Apple updates Mac mini with all-new internals, drops starting price to $499, available today

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Apple has just announced an update to it’s Mac mini desktop PC that features all-new internals and a lower starting price. The CPU has been bumped to the current fourth-generation of Intel’s Core processors paired with Intel Iris and HD Graphics 5000 graphics processors. It now sports PCIe-based flash storage, though the exact amount of storage wasn’t mentioned.

The computer’s connectivity has also gotten a bump with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and the addition of two Thunderbolt 2 i/o ports. The tweaked internals have also afforded the new Mac mini the title of “world’s most energy efficient desktop.”

The upgraded machine will be available today at a reduced starting price of only $499.

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‘It’s been way too long': Apple sends out invites for Thursday, October 16th iPad & Mac event

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It’s happening: Apple has just announced a keynote address for Thursday, October 16th to take place at the Town Hall auditorium on its Infinite Loop Campus in Cupertino, California. Invitations to select members of the media and special guests indicate that the event will, as always, begin at 10 AM Pacific time/1 PM Eastern Time. News of the October 16th date broke last week. We’ll be providing full, live coverage on 9to5Mac.com of the event’s proceedings. Here’s everything we’re expecting Apple to discuss at the event:

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Report claims rumored refreshed Mac mini could launch next month

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Following rumors of a possible Mac mini refresh earlier this year and references on Apple’s own website, a new report says Apple could introduce an update to the product as early as next month. MacRumors cites a source that has provided accurate tips in the past claiming the new Mac mini could launch alongside new iPads and OS X Yosemite expected at an event in October. Read more

Mid-2014 Mac mini listed on Apple Support page, but no 2014 Mac mini in sight

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Apple seems to have inadvertently referenced a new model of Mac mini on an Apple Support page. The page was last modified yesterday, presumably to include information on the new MacBook Pro’s but instead lists “Mac mini (Mid 2014)” as a supported machine. There is a possibility that this is simply a human error on Apple’s part, of course, confusing the MacBook Pro and the Mac mini updates. There haven’t really been rumors of a new Mac mini being in the works, but due to the relative unimportance of the product in the Mac lineup, it is not of the question for it to have slid under the radar.

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Apple launches 2014 Back to School promotion: $100 Apple Store gift cards with Macs, $50 with iPad/iPhone

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As we reported two weeks ago and again yesterday, Apple has today launched its Back to School promotion for this school season. Like previous years, qualifying student customers will get a free gift card alongside any purchase of a Mac, iPad or iPhone. While last year Apple gave out Mac App Store/iTunes cards, this year’s cards are for Apple Retail Stores.

Buying any Mac makes the buyer eligible for a $100 Apple Store gift card and $50 cards will be distributed alongside iPads and iPhones.

Interested students can buy any Mac (except for the Mac Mini), or any iPad or iPhone currently on sale at the Apple Store, to be eligible for the promotion. Students can also receive education discount pricing where applicable, alongside the gift card giveaway.

Back to School runs from today until September 9th and available in many regions, including the United States, Canada, the UK and many other countries in Europe. Read more