MacBook Air Overview Updated March 26, 2021

MacBook Air

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506 'MacBook Air' stories

October 2010 - April 2021

MacBook Air

The MacBook Air is “the default Mac” – the one you should buy if you’re not sure which model you need.

History

The MacBook Air was launched in 2008 as a premium 13-inch model, billed as the world’s thinnest laptop. It was dramatically revealed by Steve Jobs sliding it out of an office envelope.

In 2010, it was joined by an 11-inch model. By 2011, that had become the entry-level MacBook, replacing the plain MacBook in the lineup. Its combination of affordability, portability, cuteness, and suitability for most people’s computer usage saw it become a hugely popular machine with everyone from students to senior business execs.

The 11-inch MacBook Air was discontinued in 2016, leaving only the 13-inch models.

In 2018, we saw the first major update to the then-elderly design. This gave the machine a Retina display, Touch ID, USB-C ports along with a design refresh with smaller bezels, a slimmer form factor, and lighter weight.

In 2020, the MacBook Air was one of the first three machines to make the switch from Intel processors to Apple Silicon in the form of the M1 chip.

MacBook Air Specs

The 2020 MacBook Air is powered by an 8-core Apple M1 chip, comprising four performance cores and four efficiency cores. It’s available in two almost-identical versions, one with an 8-core GPU, the other with a (chip-binned) 7-core one.

The machine is available with either 8GB or 16GB of unified memory. SSD storage options are 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB.

The machine supports 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 as well as 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. It can drive one external monitor of up to 6K resolution at 60Hz.

The MacBook Air has two USB-C ports that support USB 3.1 Gen 2, USB 4, and Thunderbolt 3.

Battery life is described as up to 15 hours of web browsing or 18 hours of movie viewing, and reviews suggest that real-life usage approaches the claimed life.

Pricing

MacBook Air (2020) pricing starts at $999 for the 7-core GPU with 8GB unified memory and 256GB SSD. The 8-core GPU model comes with the same 8GB unified memory, but a 512GB SSD, at $1,249.

The machine can be specced up as far as 16GB unified memory and 2TB SSD for $2,049.

Lower prices may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.

MacBook Air Review

In our video review of the machine, we described it as game-changing.

There is very little negative to say about these MacBooks. Apple has taken a design like the MacBook Air, which it more or less perfected with the early 2020 refresh, and made it 10 times better. This is no hyperbole. These M1-powered MacBooks are such a huge improvement in performance and battery life with virtually no negative baggage. I can’t see myself ever wanting to go back to an Intel-based laptop […]

If I was using an Intel-based MacBook Air, I wouldn’t even consider using a machine with such little memory to handle my day-to-day creative workflow, but Apple’s implementation of unified memory cannot be compared 1:1 with typical RAM configurations.

Basic day-to-day usage is relatively unaffected by the amount of RAM, or lack thereof. The MacBook Air is competent with only 8GB of RAM even when running lots of apps simultaneously, even with a dozen Safari windows, and even when swapping out to the SSD […]

I can attest to the fact that these MacBooks have incredibly long battery life, so much so that it was honestly hard to believe initially. I was able to use my MacBook Air for a full workday, writing, browsing the web, chatting on zoom, and editing video and photos, and the machine was only at 50% by the end of the day. I woke up the next day, and did several hours of zoom video calls and web browsing, and the machine finally gave me a warning to plug in when it reached 10%

Deals

Over at 9to5Toys, you can find the best deals on the MacBook Air and other Apple products. Download the 9to5Toys iPhone app to receive push notifications for new deals as well.

MacBook Air Stories April 9, 2021

Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock review
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The Brydge MacBook Vertical Dock is the latest incarnation of what used to be Henge Docks. Brydge acquired the company back in 2019 and has continued to develop new models since then.

The concept of a laptop dock has been around for decades now. The basic idea is that you use the laptop as a standalone machine when mobile, then snap it into a dock when you return to your desk, to effectively turn it into a desktop computer. There are, though, two different takes on the idea …

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MacBook Air Stories March 30, 2021

Apple patent describes configurable solid-state keyboard
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An Apple patent granted today describes a MacBook with a solid-state keyboard using an all-touch surface which can be reconfigured as the user desires.

A user working with numbers might opt for a large numeric keyboard, for example, while an artist might instead choose a large area for drawing …

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MacBook Air Stories March 23, 2021

MacBook retractable keyboard patent
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Apple has long been on a mission to make MacBooks ever thinner, and a new patent granted today describes how a retractable keyboard could help.

Earlier patents suggest that Apple’s long-term goal is a completely solid-state keyboard, which uses electrostatic charges to allow users to “feel” keys so that touch-typing remains possible, and haptic motors to simulate key presses for the feel of a physical keyboard …

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MacBook Air Stories March 8, 2021

M1 MacBook Air vs Pro comparison
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Apple’s M1 MacBooks bring some major performance gains and at first glance, the new MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro seem quite similar. They have the same CPU/GPU, same ports, same FaceTime camera, and more. However, let’s take a closer look at the M1 MacBook Air vs Pro to see what differentiates the two to help you decide which to buy.

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MacBook Air Stories February 25, 2021

macOS custom app icons
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Apple has released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2. to the public today with a fix for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air users. Apple says the update “prevents” certain models from “incurring damage” when they are connected to third-party USB-C hubs and docks.

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MacBook Air Stories February 23, 2021

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One day after it started selling the refurbished M1 MacBook Pro, Apple has also now started selling the M1 MacBook Air via its Certified Refurbished store. The M1 MacBook Air starts at $849 in refurbished condition, a savings of $150.

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MacBook Air Stories February 3, 2021

CalDigit’s new USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 ‘Element Hub’ adds 7 ports to your MacBook

CalDigit is out today with an interesting new compact USB 4/Thunderbolt 4/USB-C dock. The Element Hub adds lots of I/O and bandwidth to connect your MacBook with new and legacy devices and 4K/8K displays.

MacBook Air Stories January 26, 2021

Apple patent describes titanium MacBook
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Apple already makes a titanium Apple Watch, but a patent granted today could pave the way for titanium MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones too.

The patent describes how Apple could overcome the challenge of giving titanium an aesthetically pleasing finish, and follows a patent granted last month regarding a method of making a true matte black MacBook

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MacBook Air Stories December 23, 2020

check Universal macOS apps M1 support
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On the whole, Apple’s M1 MacBooks and Mac mini have been a hit with big improvements across the board. However, the improvements never end and Apple has been asking early M1 MacBook customers a list of questions in a new survey including what they would change about the new generation of computers. How about you, what would like to see with the next iteration of M1 MacBooks?

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MacBook Air Stories December 4, 2020

A true matte black MacBook is hard to achieve
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If you’ve ever wished Apple made matte black MacBooks, a new patent shows that the company is at least considering the idea.

Apple begins by explaining the likely reason it hasn’t yet done it: it’s really hard to get a true black, rather than a dark grey …

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MacBook Air Stories December 2, 2020

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Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is out with a new investor note today in which he focuses on Apple’s planned transition to mini LED display technology, as well as the possibility that Apple will release “2 or 3 new chargers in 2021.” Kuo reports today that the mini LED transition will happen faster than initially expected.

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MacBook Air Stories December 1, 2020

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Has the transition from Intel to Apple silicon on the Mac surpassed all expectations? Watch our hands-on video as we discuss what makes Apple’s M1 MacBooks so special in our MacBook Air and MacBook Pro review.

Read more

MacBook Air Stories November 23, 2020

Exterior design of M1 Macs
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Apple’s switch from Intel processors to Apple Silicon is the most significant change to the Mac lineup in many years, and yet the exterior design of M1 Macs has been left almost completely unchanged. A few function keys aside on the new MacBook Air, there is no clue that the new machines are radically different from the old ones.

Some believe this is a very deliberate move by the Cupertino company. I agree, but not for the reason that has mostly been suggested …

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MacBook Air Stories November 20, 2020

128GB M1 MacBook Air for education
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Apple has quietly included a 128GB M1 MacBook Air in the Apple Store for Education, priced at $799. This is $100 cheaper than the education deal on the standard entry-level 256GB model. It is not, however, available in the higher education store aimed at students.

Apple offers discounted prices to educational institutions like schools and colleges, but sometimes also adds in lower-specced models at even cheaper prices …

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MacBook Air Stories November 19, 2020

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We continue to learn more about Apple’s new M1-powered MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. This afternoon, the folks over at iFixit have published their full teardowns of the new MacBooks, and things are incredibly similar to the Intel-powered predecessors.

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MacBook Air Stories November 18, 2020

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Last year I picked up a very expensive computer — a top of the line 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro upgraded to an i9, 1TB of storage, and 16GB of RAM. But I just couldn’t wait to see how these M1 chips actually perform, so I decided to pick up the base $999 MacBook Air to see how it would hold up side-by-side with my 16-inch behemoth. The results are incredible.

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MacBook Air Stories November 16, 2020

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Coming off record-breaking earnings for its fiscal Q3, Apple did it again for Q4. At the time, the company highlighted that new all-time records for Mac and Services were big factors in its September quarter success. Now we’ve got a look at how many Macs Apple may have shipped during its Q4 from Strategy Analytics.

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MacBook Air Stories November 11, 2020

New MacBook Air
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Yesterday’s Apple event was the latest in a series of much snappier, more focused, pre-recorded presentations. The new MacBook Air was the undisputed star of the show. If it lives up to the promises Apple made – and there is every reason to believe that it will – it’s all the Mac most people will need.

That’s long been true of the MacBook Air through the generations, of course. When the average Mac user does nothing more demanding than email, web-browsing, and word-processing, they don’t need much of a machine to do it. But the new MacBook Air takes us into whole new territory …

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New MacBook Air specs 7-core versus 8-core GPU
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A number of people commented on what appears to be a comical difference in the new MacBook Air specs, between the $999 base model and the $1249 version.

Both models have an 8-core CPU with 4 perform­ance cores and 4 efficiency cores, along with a 16-core Neural Engine. But while the higher-spec model has an 8-core GPU – also seen in the new MacBook Pro and Mac mini – the base model only has a 7-core GPU …

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Apple's M1 chip
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A detailed analysis by AnandTech says that Apple’s M1 chip can indeed credibly claim to be the fastest laptop CPU in the world. Apple made the claim during yesterday’s Mac event.

While the piece does level a couple of criticisms at Apple’s presentation, it says that a comparison of A-series and Intel chip trajectories tell a very clear story: Apple has long been on-track to overtake the PC chipmaker, and has now done so …

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MacBook Air Stories November 10, 2020

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Today Apple released its M1 chip for the 13-inch MacBook Air and Pro and Mac mini. Currently, for the MacBook Air, Apple is only offering the M1 chip starting at $999. But for the MacBook Pro and Mac mini, Intel processor models are still available from Apple for the time being.

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As Apple launched its new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro powered by its M1 custom Apple Silicon, we learned about the big performance gains to expect. Beyond processor and graphics performance, Apple says battery performance is seeing massive improvements giving them the “longest battery life ever in a Mac.” Here’s what Apple is rating battery runtime for the new MacBook Air and Pro.

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Apple has made a small but notable tweak to the MacBook Air keyboard alongside its transition to Apple Silicon processors. The function row on the MacBook Air keyboard now features dedicated keys for Do Not Disturb, Dictation, and Spotlight.

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Apple has unveiled its first Macs with custom M1 chips. For its notebooks, those include the 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro and they come with what looks like some huge performance upgrades thanks to Apple’s custom M1 chip. While they also include improved FaceTime cameras, unfortunately, they’re still 720p.

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Here are all the best MacBook trade in values following Apple Silicon launch

The new MacBooks are here, and that means it’s time to trade in your old, clunky, slow computer! While we’re always keeping you in the loop on the best MacBook trade in deals in our roundups every month, here’s what we’re finding for trade in values for Macs all the way from older MacBook Air models to the new-ish 16-inch MacBook Pro…

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During its “One more thing” event today, Apple officially announced an all-new MacBook Air powered by Apple Silicon. The new MacBook Air is Apple’s first laptop to be powered by in-house processors rather than Intel. Head below for live updates on the new MacBook Air.

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Macbook Air
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After a long history of Intel-based Macs, top-tier computers from Apple running on Apple Silicon are finally coming. Regardless of which old Mac you have, moving to an Apple Silicon model will have its benefits — and if you are coming from an older model, it’s certain to be a huge performance upgrade. But what should you do about that aging Mac now that you’re planning to upgrade? Here’s how to trade in and recycle your old computer…

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MacBook maker Compal hit by ransom attack
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MacBook maker Compal has reportedly been hit by a ransomware attack over the weekend, the hackers claiming to have encrypted files and stolen unencrypted data.

It comes just ahead of today’s event to announce the first Apple Silicon MacBooks, and at a time when Apple has reportedly placed very large orders for the next-generation MacBooks …

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MacBook Air Stories November 2, 2020

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Apple just announced its next special event for November 10 with the tagline “One more thing.” The event is likely to focus on the Apple Silicon transition for the Mac lineup, and now a reliable source has just provided a cryptic hint at what to expect.

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MacBook Air Stories June 21, 2020

Video tests MacBook Air thermal and CPU performance with improved cooling design

A new video from Linus Tech Tips today sheds light on the MacBook Air’s thermal design and how various different tweaks can affect performance and heat dissipation. The results show an increase in performance, but not quite as you would expect.

MacBook Air Stories June 17, 2020

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Some users of the latest MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models available are complaining about a compatibility issue with USB 2.0 accessories, which causes the computer to freeze. According to the reports shared on the web, the problem seems to affect only the MacBook models introduced in 2020.

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MacBook Air Stories June 3, 2020

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Although I love using the 16-inch MacBook Pro as my primary workhorse, one of the most frustrating things about using an Apple laptop is how easily the display gets dirty. For years I used to struggle with cleaning my MacBook Pro display, but over the past few years I like to think I’ve finally perfected the screen-cleaning technique.

If you’re looking for the best way to clean your MacBook display, then look no further than this tutorial. In the end, I think you’ll agree, there’s simply no reason to tolerate using a MacBook with a dirty screen.

In this hands-on video walkthrough, I’ll show you my go-to method for keeping my MacBook Pro screen clean, and the products involved to make it happen.

Update: I updated this tutorial to remove the part about spraying cleaner directly on the display. Several commenters (rightly) called this out, and I adjusted the video and post accordingly. Thank you for your feedback.

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MacBook Air Stories May 11, 2020

Hyper HyperDrive Duo 7-in-2- USB-C Hub MacBook Pro MacBook Air
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Hyper is out today with an update to one of its most popular I/O products, the HyperDrive Duo 7-in-2 USB-C Hub. The new hub features HDMI video output of 4K @ 60Hz, a removable grip to work with MacBook cases and a more secure connection to your MacBook, 2 USB-C ports with up to 100W charging and 40Gbps data transfer, microSD card reader, and more.

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MacBook Air Stories May 6, 2020

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As I noted in my initial hands-on impressions with the $999 MacBook Air, this base model MacBook Air is a good option for Mac users in search of a no-frills laptop experience. If you’re the type who primarily uses a laptop for everyday tasks like web browsing, writing, spreadsheets, and other things of that ilk, then the MacBook Air is more than capable of handling such needs.

Should you consider the 2020 MacBook Air? Should you upgrade if you’re coming from one of the last two updates? Watch our hands-on video walkthrough for the details. expand full story

MacBook Air Stories May 4, 2020

2020 13-inch MacBook Pro comparison vs MacBook Air
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After launching an updated MacBook Air with the new Magic Keyboard back in March, Apple released its new 13-inch MacBook Pro today with the same improved keyboard and a few other updates. Not sure which MacBook to pick up? Read on for a detailed MacBook Pro vs MacBook Air comparison to make the right decision.

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MacBook Air Stories April 23, 2020

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We’ve been wondering for years when we might see the first ARM-powered Mac, and a Bloomberg report today suggests that it will be next year.

Apple is set to release its first Mac based on a custom ARM chip next year, according to Bloomberg. This lines up with previous timeline reported from Bloomberg, which cited late 2020/2021 timeframe, and other reports from publications like analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

The different architectures make it difficult to predict the relative power of an ARM-based Mac against an Intel one, but there’s no reason in principle why an ARM-powered Mac couldn’t be more powerful than some of today’s machines …

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MacBook Air Stories March 31, 2020

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Apple has officially debuted a new MacBook Air that brings some of the first major changes to the laptop since Apple revitalized it in 2018. Read on as we compare the new 2020 MacBook Air against its predecessor, with details on performance, the new keyboard, and more.

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MacBook Air Stories March 27, 2020

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Slowly but surely, Apple is migrating its Mac laptops off of the horrendous butterfly keyboard switches, and back to the reliable scissor switches that most people overwhelmingly prefer. Although the keyboard is without a doubt the star of the show for this year’s refresh, there are other top MacBook Air features to talk about in this hands-on video. expand full story

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Ming-Chi Kuo had already predicted that the first ARM Mac will arrive as soon as the fourth quarter of this year. Unsurprisingly, Kuo says that even more Macs will transition to ARM in 2021 and beyond, including desktop machines, with Apple adopting an “aggressive processor-replacement strategy”.

Presumably, Apple will start with a lower-end laptop form factor and slowly work its way up the line. Kuo says that replacing Intel with ARM CPUs of Apple’s own design will bring significant cost savings as well as the expected performance and battery life gains.

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MacBook Air Stories March 25, 2020

MacBook Air iFixit teardown
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iFixit is continuing on with its teardowns even amidst the current global health crisis. With the new MacBook Air comes Apple’s switch to the scissor switch Magic Keyboard and a few other changes making for a more repairable notebook than the last generation.

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Scissor keyboard report suggests good demand for iPads and MacBooks
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A supply chain report indicates that demand for MacBooks and iPads remains positive despite the fact that most stores are closed and many consumers face financial concerns during the coronavirus outbreak.

While it’s just one measure, today’s report says that suppliers of Apple’s scissor-switch keyboard are continuing to ramp up production as per pre-coronavirus plans …

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MacBook Air Stories March 21, 2020

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Apple this week introduced a new version of the MacBook Air, bringing not only internal performance improvements but also a redesigned scissor switch Magic Keyboard. Now that the MacBook Air and 16-inch MacBook Pro feature the new keyboard design, there’s one clear outlier: the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

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MacBook Air Stories March 20, 2020

Here are the external display setups supported by the new MacBook Air

The new 2020 MacBook Air is out with the upgraded Magic Keyboard, new processor options, double the storage, and expanded external display support. Read on for the different external display setups you can run with the latest MacBook Air.

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The new MacBook Air landed this week with the updated Magic Keyboard, double the storage, new processors, and a starting price of $999. We saw the first round of reviews go live today with lots of positive feedback overall for Apple’s affordable notebook and we’ve also got our first look at how the new MacBook Air performs with some initial benchmark results.

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After making its debut earlier this week, the first reviews of the new 2020 MacBook Air have hit the web today. Reviewers praise the new Magic Keyboard, performance improvements, and more.

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MacBook Air Stories March 18, 2020

MacBook Air or iPad Pro Magic Keyboard combo
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There had been much speculation about whether or not we’d see a March event. As it turns out, the coronavirus would have put paid to that anyway, but the new MacBook Air and iPad Pro Magic Keyboard announced today would absolutely have justified one.

Life used to be very simple when friends asked me for recommendations on which laptop to buy…

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MacBook Air Stories March 12, 2020

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Apple is said to be accelerating the product pipeline for new Mac laptops. Following the warm reception to the 16-inch MacBook Pro, reliable Ming-Chi Kuo now expects Apple to deliver new MacBook Air and new MacBook Pro models in the second quarter.

This means the butterfly keyboard will have flown away on all of Apple’s products by June.

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MacBook Air Stories March 5, 2020

New to Force Touch trackpads? Here’s what your Mac can do

Whether you’re new to Mac or have had one for a while but haven’t gotten in the habit of using Apple’s powerful trackpad to the fullest, follow along for all the things you can do with the Force Touch trackpad and how to customize its settings.

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