A Guide to Apple’s Adapters and Ports for Mac and iPhone

MakeUseOf | 4/15/2019 | Tim Chawaga
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If you check out Apple’s Cables and Adapters page, you’ll be greeted with a lot of funny cables featuring a lot of indecipherable acronyms. What’s DVI? And how are Thunderbolt and Lightning different from each other?

Here’s a full breakdown of what adapter accessories are available on Apple’s website at the time of writing.

Cable - Types

First, let’s dive into what the different cable types are and what they’re used for.

MagSafe and MagSafe 2: MagSafe power adapters work by holding the power connection in place magnetically. The benefit to this is that if you trip over or yank a cable out, the computer doesn’t come with it.

Apple - MagSafe - Favor - USB-C - Port

Apple is phasing out MagSafe in favor of USB-C, which allows for charging from any port.

5K DisplayPort: Some high-powered third-party monitors use this display standard to connect. They also require an adapter of some kind to connect to your Mac.

Mini - DisplayPort - Apple - Standard - Display

Mini DisplayPort: An older Apple standard for connecting a display. Though it’s exactly the same shape as Thunderbolt 2, it cannot transfer data. You can tell the difference between the two by the symbol above the port.

Thunderbolt 2: A super-fast data transfer and display connection standard, Thunderbolt 2 is as fast as a PCI Express connection. This means that hard drives that connect via Thunderbolt 2 theoretically have the same transfer speeds as internal hard drives. As a result, having these ports greatly enhances the future upgradability of your Mac.

Standard - Macs - Improvement - Thunderbolt - Ports

Thunderbolt 3: The latest standard on Macs, and an improvement on Thunderbolt 2, although the ports are not the same. You can use Thunderbolt 3 to transfer data, connect a display, and charge your device.

Though Thunderbolt 3 ports use USB-C cables, not all USB-C ports support the Thunderbolt 3 standard. For example, the 12-inch MacBook has a USB-C port, but it doesn’t work with Thunderbolt 3. Check out our breakdown...
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