Mac Stocking Stuffers: 10 Cool Apps and Hardware for the Mac

Holiday Gifts for Your Favorite Mac User

If you haven’t already hung your Christmas stocking on the fireplace mantel, then you better get cracking. It can't get filled up until it's hung up.

Here's our list of Mac stocking stuffers that will delight any Mac user. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, or you have a hard-to-please recipient, consider our eleventh suggestion: Apple gift cards. Apple gift cards come in two forms: the Apple Store card, which can be used at any Apple retail store or Apple’s online store; or the iTunes gift card, which can be used to purchase apps, music, books, TV shows, and more from the iTunes Store, App Store, iBook Store, or the Mac App Store.

You can grab your gift card from the Apple website.

Magic Mouse 2
Courtesy of Apple

The newest rodent in the Mac family is the Magic Mouse 2. This update to the original Magic Mouse is best thought of as an evolutionary change. You won’t find many new capabilities, such as new gestures or a force-based mouse surface to allow you to define multiple click types.

What you will find is a new battery and charging system that really does eliminate the chief complaint about the older Magic Mouse: that it went through batteries faster than users could buy them. The Magic Mouse 2 also has a new Bluetooth system that allows for the easiest pairing between devices that I've ever seen. It also seems to have eliminated Bluetooth connectivity issues, which were probably the second biggest complaint about the Magic Mouse.

All in all, the Magic Mouse 2 is a must-have peripheral for Mac users, or at least those who use mice. It offers an added benefit for the holidays: it will actually fit into a stocking hung from the fireplace mantel… More »

Magic Trackpad 2
Courtesy of Apple

If you've never used a separate trackpad with your Mac, you’re in for a treat. The new Magic Trackpad 2 is an improvement over the original Magic Trackpad, which was already pretty darn good.

New features include the same rechargeable battery and charging system that is part of the Magic Mouse 2, but the new trackpad doesn’t stop there. It adds Force Touch technology that allows you to easily register a click anywhere on the trackpad’s surface. The Magic Trackpad 2 can also detect how hard or soft your click is, allowing you to produce multiple click types depending on the amount of pressure you exert.

If you’re a trackpad user, the Magic Trackpad 2 is a must-have peripheral. The only downside is the box it comes in is too big for most stockings… More »

Apple TV 4
Courtesy of Apple

The fourth generation of the Apple TV has a lot going for it. New features including the ability to use Siri to search through all supported online video services to find the show you want to watch. No more checking iTunes, then Netflix, then Hulu, etc. Search once and you’re done.

The Apple TV 4 also brings games to your TV screen, along with an Apple TV version of the iTunes Store, where there's an ever-growing collection of games from which to choose.

The Apple TV 4 may be just what you've been looking for to stream TV shows, movies, music, and games to your big-screen TV. Oh, and did I mention you can use AirPlay to stream content from your Mac directly to your TV?… More »

Drive Genius 4 User Interface
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Drive Genius 4 is one of my go-to utility apps for working with, troubleshooting, and repairing drives connected to a Mac. Drive Genius packs so many must-have capabilities for managing drives into one app that it can pay for itself the first time it fixes a drive that Disk Utility was unable to repair.

Drive Genius can find issues before they become major problems; it can also repair most problems involving file and folder data and structure. If your data is important to you, Drive Genius may be just the tool you need to keep your information safe.

Also, if you need to defragment your Mac’s drives, Drive Genius has got you covered… More »

Stellarium planetarium app
Courtesy of Stellarium.org

Used to project a three-dimensional image representing a map of the night sky, a stellarium is the key component of most planetariums.

Stellarium, the app from the developer team at Stellarium.org, brings a planetarium home to your Mac, and allows you to see a realistic view of the sky, just as if you had stepped into your backyard.

Stellarium isn't limited to a backyard view; you can use it to see the nighttime sky from anywhere in the world, at any time of day, as well as at any time in history.

If there's a budding astronomer in your household, or you would like to look up at the sky and know the names of a few of the nighttime objects, then give Stellarium a try. Did I mention it's free?... More »

Scrivener Long Form Editor
Courtesy of Literature and Latte

Have any writers, budding writers, or students who need an advanced writing environment to help them get their projects done? Scrivener is often suggested as one of the better long-form writing tools available for the Mac, but it's so much more. Scrivener can help with the research, organization, and documentation of a writing project.

Scrivener works for just about any writing environment, from very structured documents to free-form ramblings, and everything in-between… More »

Parallels Desktop for Mac
Courtesy of Parallels

Parallels Desktop for Mac 12 is the latest version of the virtualization software that allows you to run Windows and Linux concurrently with OS X. You can even run multiple versions of OS X simultaneously, a great way to access older apps that may not work in the current version of OS X.

Parallels, unlike Apple’s Boot Camp, doesn't require you to boot your Mac into a specific OS; instead, you can select the operating system you need at any time, without restarting or curtailing the currently running version of OS X. Now that’s one versatile virtualization system… More »

Affinity Photo
Courtesy of Serif, Ltd.

Affinity Photo is a new entry in the Mac photo editing market. It provides many of the same capabilities and features as Photoshop, with an interface that's much easier to use. Additionally, Affinity Photo isn't offered as a subscription service, like many of the Adobe apps; instead, it's an old-fashioned buy it once and use it as long as you like the app, with no forced upgrades.

If you're looking for a photo editing app that can meet a professional photographer's needs on a hobbyist’s budget, check out Affinity Photo… More »

SoftRAID Lite
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

This stocking stuffer is for those of you who upgraded to OS X El Capitan and then discovered that Apple had removed Disk Utility's support for basic RAID storage systems.

SoftRAID Lite 5 brings back all of the RAID capabilities that used to be in Disk Utility, and does so with a better user interface, more robust monitoring of RAID arrays, and a much easier way to repair and update your RAID systems… More »

Carbon Copy Cloner User Interface
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Bombich Software has been making backup/cloning software for the Mac since 2002. Carbon Copy Cloner has a large following that it well deserves; it's also one of our own go-to apps for creating clones of our Mac startup drives.

We’re pretty big on the importance of backups here at About: Macs, and I use both Carbon Copy Cloner and Apple’s Time Machine to create a one-two backup punch.

With Time Machine, I can recover individual files from just about any date I choose. With Carbon Copy Cloner, I can recover from a catastrophic drive failure within minutes by simply restarting my Mac using a current clone of my startup drive… More »