I’m sure we would all love to have Jony Ive slide down the chimney and leave us a Macbook Pro. If you do not have the budget of a rich English designer, we have some more sensible choices to give this year.
Here are ten gift ideas for the Mac users in your life.
1. Magic Trackpad 2 ($130/C$160/£115)
The improved Magic Trackpad brought Force Touch to the external trackpad. This feature allows your trackpad to stay useful even if it is not sitting flat. The pressure-sensitive Force Click shortcut lets you do more on your Mac, just like 3D Touch does on your iPhone.
Even if you are not impressed by Force Touch, there is still a lot to like about the Magic Trackpad. The new version has a bigger workspace, a rechargeable battery, lightning charging, and an off switch. No more searching for batteries or having the trackpad turn on your Mac inside your backpack.
If you have never used a trackpad on the desk, there’s a lot to gain. Over the last few updates, the macOS interface refocused on the trackpad as the central input. Learning the gestures can make you work faster, and allow you to flip between apps like a pro.
2–3. Matias Mac Keyboards
We are not moving far for our next two entries: they sit right next to the trackpad on your desk. If you are looking for a keyboard that feels substantial when typing on it, you have likely already looked into mechanical keyboards. Matias uses custom recreations of the classics ALPS switches, rather than the Cherry MX switches you see in most mechanical keyboards. They have their own feel that many users swear by (myself included). There are two keyboards you might choose based on your needs:
Matias Tactile Pro ($140/£138)
The Matias Tactile Pro is a recreation of the Mac Extended Keyboard, one of the clicky-est of clicky keyboards. Matias has slavishly recreated the keyboard, but with all the modern hotkeys you would get on a stock Apple keyboard. These keyboards have laser etched keys that won’t wear away no matter how many Twitter rants you subject it to. The keyboard has all of the Option and Shift + Option characters printed right on the keycaps, making it easier to use special characters you need to look up.
Matias Ergo Pro Low Force Edition ($210/£192)
Anyone who spends most of their day at a keyboard, and then comes home and spends most of the night at a keyboard should be concerned about RSI/Carpal Tunnel. The problem is, most ergonomic keyboards are not made for the Mac. Matias gives their ergonomic model the same Mac native design that their Tactile Pro does, albeit without the special characters. The switch requires a bit less force and is a lot quieter than the Tactile Pro. There’s an additional row of shortcut keys for Undo, Cut, Copy, and Paste.
You can tent this a few different ways to find what’s most comfortable for your hands. The Ergo Pro is the keyboard I used to write this review; I recommend it highly. I used the aforementioned Tactile Pro for years, and that is a great keyboard as well.
4. Bose Companion 2 Series III Speakers ($100/C$109/£75)
These Bose speakers give you room-filling sound from a couple of shelf speakers. If you use your Mac on a desk as your main stereo, these are perfect to fill a small house or apartment. You do not lose space to a sub-woofer on or below your desk, but they still have a deep sound.
These speakers do not rival a tube amp or home theater setup, but compliment an office set up nicely. There is an additional auxillary input to add a second device to your speakers, maybe a Bluetooth receiver or if you have a TV mounted above your desk. They’re ideal for someone who needs good sound in a compact space.
5. Backblaze One Year Code ($50)
As a MakeUseOf reader, you should know by now that you need a backup. Backblaze is the best of the remote backup services because it has a Mac native client. It also allows you to backup connected USB storage, so even a Mac has limited local storage you can ensure the external drive on your desk gets backed up as well.
If (or when) disaster strikes, you can choose to download your data directly from Backblaze, or you can pay a bit extra to get a USB drive sent to you. The extra cost is refundable if you send the drive back.
If you do not have a cloud backup solution, this is a good candidate to give yourself a gift this year. If anyone on your list has a PC, they can use Backblaze too. Just choose the other code at Amazon.
6. eero Home WiFi System ($334 for Two)
If rumors are true, Apple’s Airport line is on borrowed time. While they are still for sale, they are a few years old and missing newer features. Instead of a monolithic router with limited range, eero uses a series of devices to manage a network across your entire house. Unlike a Wi-Fi extender, you get a single SSID and what’s called a mesh network, making it simpler for both the devices and the end users.
This two-pack should be enough for most small houses. If you have a larger house, you need to grab the three pack for $500. If you later need to expand, you can buy additional units for $200 each. The network can be configured using an iOS or Android app after plugging one of the units into your cable modem. You then plug the other unit in at the other end of the house. Once that is complete, the network should be good to go without any dead spots.
7–8. Beats Wireless Headphones With W1 Chip
The EarPods might be at the top of most Apple fans’ wish lists this year, but alas it was not meant to be. Instead there are Beats headphones, for someone who is itching to get their hands on the W1 chip, or just need Wireless headphones that pass between all their Apple devices.
On-Ear headphones give you bigger sound and are more comfortable than in-ear headphones. If you are not always able to listen wirelessly, the Solo3 headphones also have a 3.5 mm cable with an Apple remote and mic.
These are more portable than the on-ear headphones, as well as sweat and water resistant. If they focus on portability for headphones, these are probably the right choice.
9. Transcend 256 GB JetDrive ($160/C$199/£140)
If you are getting a gift for someone with a brand new MacBook Pro, these are not going to work. If they have one of the older MBP’s with the SD slot, this is a mini drive that can quickly add extra storage. Unlike a traditional SD card, this sits flush with the edge of the laptop. The linked model is 256 GB, but you can get cheaper models with smaller storage.
If they do not have a 15-inch MacBook, you can get one for the 13-inch MacBook Pro for $160. The MacBook Air 13-inch model is also $160. This is an easy way to expand the storage on an older Mac without having to open the case and it’s much cheaper to boot.
10. Wacom Intuos Draw Graphics Tablet ($80/C$83/£55)
If you are getting a gift for someone who does digital art and wants the advanced tools of the Mac, a Wacom tablet can give them a tactile drawing experience. The Draw is an entry level tablet, one that can deliver a basic experience of drawing with a pen on the Mac without a significant investment. If you want the tablet to be wireless, it is an additional $45 (£30).
The face of the tablet has a dot grid on it to aid positioning on the screen. There are programmable shortcut keys. The pen is pressure sensitive, which helps someone used to pen or brush transition to digital art. There’s a free software pack included, meaning that everything is in the box to get drawing immediately. Be careful, you might be on the hook for a Cintiq (UK) next year.
Add Your Mac Gift Ideas
Got any great gift ideas for Mac users and want to share them with us? Maybe you’re looking at buying a whole new MacBook, iMac, or iPhone this year?
Share your gift ideas, big and small, in the comments below!