Let's Look Back at the Best Mac Accessories

From chin straps to carrying cases

Key Takeaways

  • Desktop Macs love accessories as much as MacBooks do.
  • You don’t have to live with the lame pastel chin.
  • Plenty of old iMac accessories work fine with the new machine.
New M1 iMac next to older iMacs on a white background

The new 2021 M1 iMac isn’t even shipping yet, but you already can buy a black chin strap accessory to hide its pastel chin.

Compared to portable and mobile computers, the iMac has been relatively less accessorized, but that doesn’t mean it’s been left out. You can buy shelves, stands, even dongles that move the awkwardly placed USB ports to the front.

If you can imagine an accessory for the iMac, it probably already exists. And with the new slimline, iPad-on-a-stick design of the M1 iMac, we can expect a slew of revamped and brand-new accessories. But even with such a radical redesign, an iMac is still an iMac, and a lot of the old accessories still work just fine. Let’s take a look at some of the best ones.

The iMac Chin Strap

Check out this beauty: It’s a stick-on skin for the face of Apple’s M1 iMac. These Macs have beautiful, bright colors around back, but up front they turn into weak pastels. That’s fine if you work in a fancy hotel, since your guests all get to see the bright anodized rear. But you’re left staring at a washed-out colored panel that only reminds you how hot things look around back.

Dbrand’s 3M vinyl skins fix that, by hiding it. Available only in black, the skins can cover the chin, the bezel, or the entire computer.

"If you can imagine an accessory for the iMac, it probably already exists."

The Handle

The original G3 iMac came with a handle to make it easy to pick up and move around the home or office. This was a statement as much as a practical accommodation. The iMac was sold as an easy-to-use computer that needed just a couple of cables to hook up to power and the then-still-young internet. A handle emphasized this flexibility, and distanced the iMac from all those dull beige boxes that would sit in their permanent computer spot.

I couldn’t find a handle for the new Macs, but these things are so light and thin, you don't really need one.

OG Mac Carrying Case

Believe it or not, Apple once made a bag/backpack for the Mac. It, too, was a lot more portable than other computers. It even had a handle, like the later iMac.

Original Mac backpack in beige

But this case was something else, a padded bag that would let you take your computer on the road. It’s no MacBook Air, but it would be fun to lug this into Starbucks and ask them where their dialup telephone/modem socket is.

It can’t be long before we see a bag for the M1 iMacs: You can already pick up a huge padded bag for the 27-inch Intel iMac from Gator.

A Stand

The iMac is a beautiful machine, whichever generation you look at, but only the G4 iMac had a height-adjustable screen. Since all the other iMacs are stuck at one height, the only way to adjust them is to prop them up on something sturdy. One option is a pile of books, but that makes it hard to read those books.

bent-steel Office Stance Monitor Stand

Office Stance

Another great option is a shelf. Search Amazon for “iMac shelf” and you’ll get plenty of hits, but I like this plain, bent-steel Office Stance Monitor Stand.

VESA

On older iMacs, you could swap out the heavy aluminum foot for a VESA mount, which would let you mount the screen on anything from an articulated arm to a simple wall bracket. Recent iMacs, including the new M1 iMacs, require that you specify the VESA mount option at purchase. The VESA page on Apple’s site doesn’t show how the adapter mounts, so third-party options may come later.

The stand on the new iMacs is beautiful, but an articulated arm makes it so much easier to get the screen into just the right spot. You just grab it, move it, let go, and it stays where you leave it.

A Dock

The M1 iMac seems intended for everyday, non-professional use, but in reality, the M1 chip is more than capable for most work. The problem with the iMac is you only get two Thunderbolt ports and two USB-C ports. Even the cheapest M1 Mac, the Mac mini, sports Ethernet and HDMI ports on the back, in addition to Thunderbolt and USB.

CalDigit thunderbolt dock

CalDigit

Adding a Thunderbolt dock expands your connections quite a bit. You could go for a simple 3-4x expander, which adds more Thunderbolt ports, or go for something like the Caldigit TS3+, which adds 14 ports to your Mac, including an SD card slot.

Accessory-wise, the iMac might seem like it doesn't need much, but you could argue that the opposite is true. Because it never really leaves the desk, you can load it up with extras, hide them neatly away, and always have everything ready to go every time you sit down. And because the M1 Macs are silent, and run cool even when working hard, you can really push them. And add-ons are one great way to do that.

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