The Thunderbolt-3 adapter guide: how to connect an iPhone, display, hard drive and more to a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air

The Thunderbolt-3 adapter guide: how to connect an iPhone, display, hard drive and more to a MacBook, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air

The new MacBook Pro comes with two or four external ports, depending on the model you choose. And the new MacBook Air has a couple of connections. But the ports are only of the a type: Thunderbolt 3, which is compatible with USB-C.

But probably you have devices with a USB, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, DisplayPort, HDMI, or something else. How do you connect these devices? With the use of an adapter.

If you are planning to buy a new MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, make sure that you set aside a significant amount of cash for the Adapter you need. Apple are not in the box, except for a power supply.

your best bet is a combination of dock, like the Satechi Slim aluminum type-C Multi-Port Adapter ($60 on Amazon). It connects via USB-C, and includes a USB-to support C pass-through port, two USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI port with 4K (30Hz). With this, you will not have to carry around multiple adapters.

If you don’t want a dock, or you can’t find a dock with the mixture of compounds you need, Apple, or another company, probably has an adapter for you. We have to help with this guide, you will have to sort out what you need, and we link to the appropriate adapter in the Apple online Store or on Amazon. You can also the bottom of the quick-link list to jump to the information you need.

How to connect:


  • USB-C devices
  • the

  • USB devices
  • the

  • Micro-B-SuperSpeed-USB
  • the

  • iPhone or iPad
  • the

  • Lightning, Earpods
  • the

  • headphone with a 3.5 mm headset plug
  • the

  • Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 devices
  • the

  • DisplayPort and mini-DisplayPort
  • the

  • HDMI
  • the

  • DVI
  • the

  • VGA
  • the

  • ethernet
  • the

  • SD card
  • the

  • FireWire devices
  • the

  • – the printer with a USB-B
  • the

  • MagSafe

be careful not to check the return policy; sometimes third party adapters will work. Read user-reviews, if possible, and read the specifications to make sure the adapter can do, what you need to do it.

[ read More: Learn more about macOS Catalina ]

If there is a connection we have missed, or do you have any tips, what to buy the Adapter, please let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

How do you connect the USB-C devices

The Thunderbolt 3 ports in the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air with the USB-C devices, which have the same plug shape. If you want to use a USB-C device, you can just plug it into one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports. No adapter is necessary. Uff.

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to connect USB devices

USB-A-USB-port that you will probably be familiar to most. It is the USB port was on the previous MacBooks, and it is the plug that comes on your iOS device, the sync cable in the box. (Terms such as USB 3 and USB 2 refer to the speed of the data traveling through the connection.)

The first problem came when the Apple 12 released-inch MacBook has a single USB-C port. You can dock, like the aforementioned Satechi. Or you can Apple’s $19 USB-C-to-USB Adapter.

apple-usb-c usb-adapter Apple

Apple-USB-C USB-Adapter

If you need multiple USB devices, get a USB-C USB-hub. Anchor sells a USB-C 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub ($18 at Amazon), offers four USB-A ports. 

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to connect micro-B SuperSpeed devices

This connector is often associated with external storage media. You need a new cable, as the $15 StarTech USB-C-to-Micro-USB-cable

The name of the cable is confusing, because it could be confused with micro-USB. But if you check the product page on the StarTech website, you can see a clear shot of the micro-B SuperSpeed connector on the cable, which is so very different micro-USB.

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to connect an iPhone or iPad

If you are still using the USB A to Lightning or 30-pin if you are using an older iOS device) cable that came with the device, You can use the USB-C USB-Adapter mentioned above, in the USB-A field.

don’t want an adapter? A  buy;$19 USB-C to Lightning cable (1 m) of Apple. You can/with a 2-meter version for $ 35 from Apple.

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to close the EarPods Lightning

There is now a USB-C to Lightning adapter, thanks to the folks at anchor. It is $30 on Amazon. This adapter has a women, Lightning-connector on one end, so you can plug in your Lightning headphones. The other side is a standard USB-C connector, which you plug into your MacBook.

anchor usbc lightning audio

anchor USB-C to Lightning Audio Adapter

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to connect a headphone with 3,5 mm headphones-connector

you’re in luck. The MacBook Pro and MacBook Air comes with a 3.5 mm headphone Jack. Just plug it in and you are good to go. That was easy.

macbookpro 13 tbolt3 ports Apple

The MacBook Pro actually has a headphone Jack. Really, It power.

Now, you say, you need a second headphone Jack. You can use a splitter like the Belkin speaker and headphone-3.5 mm-AUX-Audio-cable-Splitter ($5 on Amazon). Or you can use a USB-C-to-headphone adapter like the Motorola one on Amazon for $9, or you can use the $12 Google USB-C Digital-to-3.5 mm headphone adapter. If you are connecting multiple headphones, the $15 Belkin RockStar 5-Jack Multi-Headphone Splitter-plug into the headphone Jack and adds five boys.

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this is how you connect a Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 devices

Older versions of Thunderbolt will have a different port than the Thunderbolt-3. The adapter you need is Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter.

apple adapter Apple

Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter

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How to connect an external display,

up a piece from your budget, because there are so many different types of display connector. Be prepared to buy multiple adapters.

DisplayPort and mini-DisplayPort

a connection To a DisplayPort display, you will need a USB-C-DisplayPort cable or adapter. Amazon sells the Cable Matters USB-C-DisplayPort-Adapter-cable for $17, and it supports 4K video at 60 Hz).

connect one display with mini DisplayPort, you need an adapter like the USB-Belinda-C-type-to-Mini DisplayPort/Mini-DP Adapter cable ($19 on Amazon).

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Apple, the USB offers-C-Digital-AV-multi-port Adapter, a $69 device also offers a USB-A port, and a USB-C port is only for charging. Be warned: Apple released a new version of this adapter (model number A2119) in August 2019, HDMI 2.0 supports. The older version (model number A1621) supports HDMI 1.4. If you are shopping in person, you can select the check boxes for the model number in a Apple store, they will be very likely the new model will get. But if you buy elsewhere, you could end up with the old model. Apple has a support document that details the differences between the two adapters.

apple usb-c-digital-av-multi port adapter Apple
Apple USB-C-Digital-AV-Multiport-Adapter

to spend, If you want a lot of, you can an adapter, only a USB-C to HDMI adapter, such as UGreen USB-C to HDMI Adapter ($16 on Amazon). We really like the Nonda USB-C to HDMI Adapter ($19 on Amazon). When shopping for such adapters, the views of the 1080p support. The Nonda adapter 4K video support.

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Kanex USB-C-to-DVI-Adapter ($24 on Amazon). There are also other USB C-video adapters including a VGA adapter, a HDMI adapter and a DisplayPort adapter.

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connect a VGA display, Apple has a USB-C VGA multi-port Adapter ($64 on Amazon). In addition to a VGA-USB-C connector, it also has a USB-A port for USB to connect devices, and a USB-C charging port you can keep your laptop battery happy.

On the cheaper side, but without the USB port, is Easy.To fly USB-C-to-VGA Adapter, which is available on Amazon for $14. 

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as you close the MacBook Pro to the ethernet,

you are likely to be ethernet, Wi-Fi use-most of the time, but with a wired connection also has its advantages. A connection to an ethernet network, you need an adapter such as the Belkin USB-C–Gigabit-Ethernet-Adapter, which is available on Amazon for $24.

belkin usbc ethernet adapter Belkin

Belkin USB-C-to-Gigabit-Ethernet-Adapter

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to connect SD cards

If you have a DLSR or some other type of stand-alone camera, it might still be a way to transfer your files wirelessly. If not, you need an adapter to access the SD card, such as the Cable Matters Dual-Slot USB C-Card Reader ($10 on Amazon).

cable matters dual-slot usb c-card reader Amazon

Cable Matters Dual-Slot USB C-Card Reader

If you have a USB card reader, you can try using Apple’s $19 USB-C-to-USB Adapter, or a USB-C dock.

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to connect FireWire devices

Oh, this could be a problem. Apple has a Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter for $29, but it has an older Thunderbolt port that does not plug into the Thunderbolt 3-port on a new MacBook Pro.

apple thunderbolt to firewire adapter Apple

Apple-Thunderbolt-to-FireWire Adapter

you could try daisy-chaining adapters, but that is always risky and can’t work. On to plug in the Thunderbolt-to-FireWire Adapter from Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter, and then plug in the MacBook Pro.

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to connect a printer with USB-B

Many of the printer Wi-Fi nowadays have support, so there is no need for a cable. But maybe you have an older printer, or you can find wireless printing is unreliable. Most of the consumer printers have a USB B port. It is a square socket, not much different than the USB-A or USB-C.

you will need a cable such as the Cable Matters USB-C printer cable, a USB-C USB-B port. A 1-meter cable $7; other lengths are available.

cable matters usbc usbb cable Amazon

Cable Matters USB-C printer cable

If you already have a USB-C-to-USB Adapter, you can use the USB-A to USB-B cable that came with the printer, and then plug it into the adapter. Then plug the adapter into the laptop.

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How to use a MagSafe power connector on the 13-inch MacBook Pro

The AC adapter that comes with the new MacBook Pro to plug in a Thunderbolt 3 port. Unfortunately, there is no breakaway MagSafe connector. If you’ve ever had to plug in your MacBook in a CafĂ© and had someone stumble over the cable of the power supply, you know, how much can be a life saver MagSafe.

But you can still have a MagSafe connector, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro. Griffin Break-proof Magnetic USB C cable ($16 at Amazon) is a power-only cable to charge the laptop. It includes an adapter that acts like a MagSafe plug. Our review of the shatter-proof covers how it works with a 12-inch MacBook, but the breakaway connector should work the same way for the new MacBook Pro.

But, Griffin explicitly States that the cable works with the 13-inch laptop; the company does not say it is compatible with the 15-inch MacBook Pro. This is because the cable rating is 60 watts, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro has a 61 watt power supply. The 15-inch MacBook Pro has designed a 87-watt power supply is more wattage than the Griffin-cable to deal with.

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Released on Mon, 11 Nov 2019 22:30:00 +0000

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