In Step One, we explored what to order and how to get the best deal for college students on the best laptop computer for must users, Apple’s MacBook or MacBook Pro. Step Two took us through recommended software options.  Here in Step Three, we will look at my recommendations for accessorizing these laptops. The fun begins . . .

A MacBook and any other Mac for a student can be an investment in that student’s future.  Most Windows computer users are accustomed to replacing them more frequently than do most Mac users.  The fact is that Macs can reasonably and realistically function for more years in a satisfying way than can the average Windows PC.  Daily use is less frustrating over time.

With this in mind, here are steps I take to keep the long-term experience a happy one.

Macs are consistent. That is, there are few models and the outside design of those models tends to hang around for three years or more. The guts get updated with faster processors and other innards are modernized.  However, the designs for cases and keyboards tend to remain a constant for years.  The same cannot be said for the Windows world.  Apple’s consistency has created an atmosphere in which third party companies can thrive.

Keyboard Covers

It is never a good practice to bring liquids or solid food near a computer.  It’s just not.  Many users ignore this rule.  This has led to the availability of high quality keyboard covers for ALL Macs, including MacBooks.  I’ve tested several brands and come upon a distinctively superior keyboard cover maker –  It’s too bad KBCovers products are not carried by Apple in their Apple stores. The reasons are strictly political – Apple insists on too much of a wholesale discount price, which would drive the KBCovers keyboard covers prices beyond competitive ranges that are present with the inferior quality products in this category found in the Apple Stores. It’s not about what is best.  It IS about what Apple can make more money selling, so KBCovers is out. Get the only ones I use and recommend. You will be pleased with your decision.

The products from KBCovers are amazing, all of them. All are of the highest quality silicone or other material. All fit exceptionally well and all are pliable over the entire surface of the cover. All have proven to me that they are durable, having lasted over a year with no discernable wear.  They continue to innovate with more designs, more specialty covers and more colors to meet the interests of all Mac users.  Click the link above and order with complete confidence from this excellent company.


Why get a keyboard cover for your Mac in the first place?  Even if the student decides to strictly adhere to the plan that no liquids will be nearby and no food will be within range of the MacBook or other Mac, things happen beyond the control of the student.  Others may come by and not be so careful.  Nature delivers dust and particles of dander and other things you’d rather NOT have in the keyboard mechanism, especially when preventing it is so easy and inexpensive.

Get the cover from that is designed for the Apple product and is of the type needed for the Mac application.  Priced from $25 to about $49, find them in clear or clear with colors, checkerboard design or with large lettering, foreign language keyboards, or specialty covers designed to make Photoshop or Final Cut easier to use.  They even have new ones that are all black with NO lettering to aid in keyboarding skills (you can’t cheat by looking at the keys!  Not yet for MacBook.).  They’ve got keyboard covers for MacBook and MacBook Pro as well as for old and new full-size external keyboards from Apple.  I simply would not use a Mac without my KBCover. They do not interfere with keyboarding accuracy or speed in any way.


My advice is to remove the KBCover regularly and take it to the sink.  Wet it and apply a couple of drops of liquid soap, such as mild dish soak.  Wash it with your hands.  Lay out two or three paper towels. DO NOT use cotton dishtowels to dry a KBCover, only paper towels that do not introduce lint to the cover.  Now press the clean but wet keyboard cover between the paper towel sheets.  Roll over it with a rolled-up fist to get into the nooks and crannies on the underside of the keyboard cover.  After the first attempt it becomes easier.  You’ll see. Once dry, put the cover back in place and repeat as needed.

MacBook Covers

This is about not only form but also function.  Nearly every laptop computer is a bit on the delicate side, with the exception of products including Panasonic’s ToughBook PCs.  But, they’re not running the Macintosh OS.  Too bad.  MacBooks are not more or less delicate than the rest.


A complete cover is a way of individualizing a MacBook’s white or black exterior and making it stand out in a sea of those colors.  It’s also a way of providing some exterior protection not only against some bumps but also as a way to preserve the external case in like-new condition and appearance.  I’ve tried snap on, snug-fitting plastic covers.  I’m just not thrilled with them.  And then I was introduced Uniea U-Suit Napa leather covers for MacBook.  These are fine products!


Just $60, you can purchase a snug-fitting leather hard case in black, white, red and purple.  Find a US supplier here.  They fit perfectly and have held up with little wear on our MacBooks and old MacBook Pro for about a year.  A highly recommended accessory.

I am still investigating new hard covers for the new MacBook Pro.  Among the top candidates I’ve seen are what’s new from Speck Products, a reliable brand that’s been around for several years. What do you think?



If a U-Suit is not to your liking and you still want to afford your MacBook or Mac Pro or MacBook Air some real protection, how about a sleeve?  The Trek Sleeve laptop case from Brenthaven is ideal for MacBooks and MacBook Air and at only $30, it’s not going to break the bank.  Mr. Gadget® tested and approved, too!  They feature six-sided protection and an outside pocket to fit MacBook power supplies and small accessories as well as a deep-well outer pocket designed to allow the user to carry a small file of needed paperwork.  This sleeve fits well inside backpacks and messenger bags and they’re ideal for short visits away from base when added protection is not warranted.  So easy to love and to use, there should be no reason to venture outside a dorm room or student’s room at home without at least grabbing the sleeve with MacBook inside.  For the MacBook Pro user, get one of these Eclipse Sleeves from Brenthaven.  I really like all of these!  However, they are NOT hard cases, which I also favor, even if the computer is also going into a sleeve.

Backpacks and bags

In this product area, I like Brenthaven, too.  This company makes only GREAT products, way above average.  They are as well made as can be found anywhere and this is an American company with thoughtful and caring, passionate founders and employees.  Their Sling 1 for MacBook, $80 is their messenger bag that I like.

In the backpack line, I like and recommend their $100 Expandable Trek BP series in any of three colors. Have a look.

Flash Drives

Any student would benefit from one of these little indispensables.  You’re probably seen them and maybe have one. I recommend capless designs – so there is no cap to lose.  In capacities now even beyond 8GB, these things are so inexpensive!


These are all examples of excellent and affordable capless-designed flash drives from Kingston – DataTraveler 100, DataTraveler Style, Data Traveler 110 and DataTraveler 101 (l-r).  The “sweet spot” in capacity and price is currently the 8GB capacity.  I just searched for the products above and found 8GB drives for under $20. I suggest ONLY capless drives for most users as there is nothing to lose!

Armed with one of these capless wonders, computer users can also save most projects with room to spare as another backup solution until the data is secured safely away elsewhere.

And let us not forget the other uses for flash drives – shuttling data from here to there.  The user can load that paper-in-progress and take it on the flash drive to the computer lab or to a friend’s computer, plug in the flash drive to one of their computers, open the paper to do more work, save changes to the work on the flash drive and leave the computer behind.  How about moving photos, videos and music from there to here?  Use the flash drive.  These really are indispensable gadgets.

I’m not recommending this, but I know these drives are quite durable.  I’ve run them through the washing machine and dryer and they’ve come out clean and dry and completely operational without losing files!


On to Step Four; Back Up or Risk Losing Everything 2008 – Step Four – Advise for All Computer Users.


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