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So you just got a MacBook -- now what?

A couple days before Christmas a year ago, I walked into a local Apple reseller and without hesitation told the salesperson I wanted a MacBook. It was my first brand-new Mac ever, and I couldn't be prouder of my little machine. While I was sitting in Barnes and Noble writing this post, an older lady sitting next to me leaned across the table to her companion. "I got my grandson one of those for Christmas," she said, pointing at my MacBook.

If you're reading this, you've also just received a MacBook for Christmas or Hannukah, or have recently purchased one. So, what do you do with it now? You need accessories, of course! Some of the best ones to get are:

A case
There's all different cases for the MacBook, from simple sleeves that you can use to cushion your MacBook when you place it in another bag to hardshell cases to roller cases and backpacks. My current pack is the InCase Nylon Backpack ($99.95 USD), which has more pockets than you will know what to do with and is extremely comfortable. InCase also manufactures a number of sleeves and smaller cases. Other respected brands include TimBuk2, Brenthaven, and many more.

An extra power adapter
After an incident where I accidentally left my MacBook power adapter at a friend's house 100 miles away and had to purchase an extra, I've found that having two power adapters has been one of the best decisions I ever made. I keep one adapter at home, and the other stays in my backpack. I'm never caught anywhere without a power supply.

Security lock
Because I bought my MacBook at Christmas last year, the Apple reseller included about $100 worth of accessories with the purchase - and the most valuable and useful is the security lock. These locks are usually made from steel cable. You wrap one end around a table leg or another anchor that can't be easily removed, then insert the other end into the security slot on your MacBook. Some locks have a combination, others have keys; Kensington makes popular models with both lock types. They usually run between $25 and $40, and it is worth the investment especially if you frequently use your MacBook outside the home.

Cleaner
Another product in my accessory gift pack was a trial package of iKlear, which included several portable iKlear wipes, two cloths, and a small bottle of iKlear solution. I quickly discovered that my MacBook gets dirty easily -- from the glossy screen down to where my not-always clean hands touch the keyboard. Without wiping down the MacBook once a week or so, it'll easily start looking rather dingy and somehow fingerprints get on the monitor even though you try your hardest not to. The trial package of iKlear starts around $19.95 and contains enough to let you get a feel for the product line.

AppleCare
Last, and certainly not least, for portable users I can't stress enough the need to purchase AppleCare -- especially if you plan to have your MacBook for the full three years that you can have it. I've already used my AppleCare to get a new case for the MacBook after plastic began flaking off the front nine months after I bought it. Along with AppleCare, make sure you take the steps needed to get your MacBook listed as one of your valuables in your homeowner's or renter's insurance. In case something happens, you'll be covered on all sides.

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