Mac video cables

Mac video cables DEFAULT

About the video ports on Mac

Your Mac includes one or more video ports, which you can use to connect to a display, TV, or projector.

If your Mac has a USB-C port, you can use USB-C adapter cables to connect your Mac to displays and other devices.

Note: There may be an identifying icon near each video port, depending on your Mac.

Video port



Thunderbolt port
Thunderbolt Label

Thunderbolt: Connect to a Thunderbolt device, Mini DisplayPort display, or to a DVI, HDMI, or VGA display using an adapter.

Mini DisplayPort
Mini DisplayPort label

Mini DisplayPort: Connect to a Mini DisplayPort using an adapter.

HDMI port
HDMI Port label

HDMI: Connect to an HDTV with an HDMI port. This port lets you play your computer’s audio as well as its video on an HDTV.

If your display and your Mac have different ports, use an adapter. You can purchase an Apple display adapter from or an Apple Store.

See alsoConnect a display, TV, or projector to MacUse AirPlay to stream what’s on your Mac to an HDTVUse multiple displays with your MacAbout the audio ports on MacApple Support article: About the Apple Mini DisplayPort adapters

  • We’ve removed a discontinued adapter and updated some links throughout.

September 10, 2021

Many modern laptops use small, versatile USB-C ports to connect to everything from chargers to monitors to hard drives, but most monitors, TVs, and projectors still have only older, more common ports like HDMI or DisplayPort. We’ve found the best USB-C–to–HDMI, USB-C–to–DisplayPort, USB-C–to–DVI, and USB-C–to–VGA cables and adapters to help you use your new computer with the video display you prefer. Most of the cables and adapters we tested worked identically, so we’ve examined the small details to figure out what sets the best models apart from the rest.

Why you should trust me

As Wirecutter’s accessory writer, I’ve tested hundreds of accessories across a wide swath of categories over the past several years. I’ve been deeply immersed in the confusing world that is USB-C since the standard launched. Before that, for a little more than three years, I was the accessories editor at iLounge, where I reviewed more than 1,000 products, including dozens of adapters.

The best USB-C–to–HDMI cable

The best USB-C–to–HDMI adapter

A compact Uni USB-C to HDMI Adapter, one of our picks for the best USB-C video cables.

Uni’s USB-C to HDMI Adapter is the best way to connect a USB-C computer to a high-definition TV or monitor if you already have an HDMI cable you like. The Uni adapter is our pick because it is made of the same high-end nylon and aluminum materials as our HDMI cable pick, it doesn’t take up much room in a bag and comes with a carrying pouch, and it works properly with both Windows PCs and Macs.

The best USB-C–to–DisplayPort cable

A Uni USB-C to DisplayPort Cable laying unwound on a flat surface.

Most USB-C–to–DisplayPort cables we tested worked flawlessly, offering a pixel-perfect image and full 60 Hz performance, even at 4K. That said, we recommend the Uni USB-C to DisplayPort Cable because, like the HDMI models the company makes, its cable and housing materials are top-notch, and it comes in 3-, 6,- and 10-foot options, offering more lengths than any comparable model.

The best USB-C–to–DisplayPort adapter

The best USB-C–to–DVI cable

The best USB-C–to–DVI adapter

The best USB-C–to–DVI adapter, the Kanex USB-C to DVI Adapter, shown connected to a laptop.

Kanex’s USB-C to DVI Adapter performs as well as every other DVI adapter we tested. The main advantage it has over the competition is that it offers just a bit more length, 9¾ inches from end to end, for the same price. That’s enough of a difference to give you more options for positioning the adapter on your desk, but not so much that the extra length will get in the way or make the adapter less portable.

The best USB-C–to–VGA cable

How we picked and tested

We focused our research on simple, inexpensive cables and adapters from reputable companies. You can find more expensive options that provide extra features, such as passthrough power or USB-A ports, but this guide is specifically about video accessories.

In general, we recommend USB-C–to–video cables that plug directly into your computer and your monitor rather than adapters to make older cables USB-C-compatible, because cables cost around the same price and you have one fewer thing to disconnect accidentally. But if you have a cable you’d like to keep using—because it’s already wired into your setup, say, or it’s a specific length—an adapter may be better.

To ensure compatibility across platforms, we tested each cable and adapter with both a MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) and an early-2018 USB-C–only Dell XPS 13. For the male-to-male cables, we connected directly to the monitor we were using, and we used cables we knew to be good to connect the male-to-female adapters. We used a Philips 272P7VUBNB/27 monitor for HDMI and DisplayPort testing and an older Dell monitor with DVI and VGA inputs for those connector types. To measure the refresh rate, we relied on the Blur Busters Motion Tests.

The competition

Unless specified below, almost all of the cables and adapters we tested worked the way they were supposed to, and in many cases the difference between a pick and a non-pick came down to a few Amazon reviews, a price difference, or better shipping options.


Nonda’s USB-C to HDMI Cable works well, but the company’s website shows that it has pivoted to car accessories, and our emails to confirm whether this cable would continue to be sold and supported went unanswered.

The Kimwood USB C to HDMI Adapter performed well and tended to be a little cheaper than our pick at the time of our tests, but it also felt cheaper in terms of materials and build quality.

The adapters we tested from Amazon Basics, Monoprice, and Kanex were plastic, though they still seemed well made. We prefer our pick, but if it’s out of stock any of these adapters would do.

Nonda’s USB-C to HDMI Adapter performed fine and had a cute fold-up design, but we found it hard to unfasten (a drawback that outweighed the cuteness of said design).

We liked USB-C–to–HDMI cables from Cable Matters, but none compared to our pick in build quality.



StarTech’s USB-C to DVI Cable usually costs more than our pick but doesn’t perform any differently, and it has a large plastic collar that makes it less convenient to take with you.


Even though the CableCreation USB-C to VGA Adapter worked well in our testing, we’ve seen enough customer reviews citing failure over time that we don’t feel comfortable recommending this adapter.

About your guide

Nick Guy

Nick Guy is a senior staff writer covering Apple and accessories at Wirecutter. He has been reviewing iPhones, iPads, and related tech since 2011—and stopped counting after he tested his 1,000th case. It’s impossible for him not to mentally catalog any case he sees. He once had the bright idea to build and burn down a room to test fireproof safes.

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  2. Rz 480
  3. Circular mosaic patterns

Mini DisplayPort

Not to be confused with Mini-DVI.

Mini DisplayPort on Apple MacBook.jpg

Mini DisplayPort on a MacBook Pro

Type Digital and analog (via DAC) computer video connector
DesignerApple Inc.
Designed October 2008
ManufacturerApple Inc.
Produced 2008–present
SupersededMicro-DVI, Mini-DVI, DVI
Width 7.4 mm male (8.3 mm female)[1]
Height 4.5 mm male (5.4 mm female)
Hot pluggable Yes
External Yes
Video signal Same as DisplayPort
Pins 20
Mini DisplayPort (connector).PNG
External Mini DisplayPort Connector
Pin 1 GND Ground
Pin 2 Hot Plug Detect Hot Plug Detect
Pin 3 ML_Lane 0 (p) Lane 0 (positive)
Pin 5 ML_Lane 0 (n) Lane 0 (negative)
Pin 7 GND Ground
Pin 8 GND Ground
Pin 9 ML_Lane 1 (p) Lane 1 (positive)
Pin 10 ML_Lane 3 (p) Lane 3 (positive)
Pin 11 ML_Lane 1 (n) Lane 1 (negative)
Pin 12 ML_Lane 3 (n) Lane 3 (negative)
Pin 13 GND Ground
Pin 14 GND Ground
Pin 15 ML_Lane 2 (p) Lane 2 (positive)
Pin 16 AUX_CH (p) Auxiliary Channel (positive)
Pin 17 ML_Lane 2 (n) Lane 2 (negative)
Pin 18 AUX_CH (n) Auxiliary Channel (negative)
Pin 19 GND Ground
Pin 20 DP_PWR Power for connector
This is the pinout for the source-side connector; the sink-side connector pinout will have lanes 0–3 reversed in order, i.e. lane 3 will be on pin 3(n) and 5(p) while lane 0 will be on pin 10(n) and 12(p).
Mini DisplayPort connector

The Mini DisplayPort (MiniDP or mDP) is a miniaturized and less common version of the DisplayPortaudio-visual digital interface.

It was announced by Apple in October 2008, and by early 2013 all new Apple Macintosh computers had the port,[2] as did the LED Cinema Display.[3][4] However, in 2016 Apple began phasing out the port and replacing it with the new USB-C connector. The Mini DisplayPort is also fitted to some PC motherboards, video cards, and some PC notebooks from Asus, Microsoft, MSI, Lenovo, Toshiba, HP, Dell, and other manufacturers.

Apple offers a free license for the Mini DisplayPort[5] but they reserve the right to cancel the license should the licensee "commence an action for patent infringement against Apple".[6]


Unlike its Mini-DVI and Micro-DVI predecessors, the Mini DisplayPort can drive display devices with resolutions up to 2560×1600 (WQXGA) in its DisplayPort 1.1a implementation, and 4096×2160 (4K) in its DisplayPort 1.2 implementation. With an adapter, the Mini DisplayPort can drive display devices with VGA, DVI, or HDMI interfaces.[7][8][9]


Apple replaced the DVI port from the MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Mini, and the Mac Pro with the Mini DisplayPort. Its use as the video connector for the 24-inch Cinema Display may complicate compatibility:

  • Mini DisplayPort's HDCP extension disables playback of certain DRM-encrypted content on any display not designed for it. This includes some content from the iTunes Store[10] which has no such restrictions if played on a Mac without Mini DisplayPort.[11][12]
  • Apple's Dual-Link DVI or VGA adapters are relatively large and expensive compared to past adapters, and customers have reported problems with them, such as being unable to connect to an external display. Monitors connected to a Mini DisplayPort via these adaptors may have resolution problems or not "wake up" from sleep.[13][14][15]
  • While the DisplayPort specification can support digital audio, the older 2009 line of MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and Mac Minis cannot provide an audio signal through the Mini DisplayPort, and only do so over USB, Firewire, or the audio line out port. (The April 2010 line of MacBook Pro, and July 2010 iMac and later do support this[16]). This can be a problem for users who want to connect their computers to HDTVs using a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. To work around this issue, some third-party manufacturers have created dual or triple-headed adapters that get power for the adapter from a USB port, video from the Mini DisplayPort, and audio from either the USB port or the optical-out port. Either option terminates with a single female HDMI connector, thus allowing both video and audio to be channeled over the single HDMI cable.[17]


  • In early 2009, VESA announced that Mini DisplayPort would be included in the upcoming DisplayPort 1.2 specification.[18][19]
  • In the fourth quarter of 2009, VESA announced that the Mini DisplayPort had been adopted. All devices using the Mini DisplayPort must comply with the 1.1a standard.[20]
  • On 7 January 2010, Toshiba introduced Satellite Pro S500, Tecra M11, A11 and S11 notebooks featuring Mini DisplayPort.[21][22][23][24]
  • AMD released a special variant of its Radeon HD 5870 graphics card called the Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition, which features 2GB GDDR5 memory, higher clock speeds than the original card, and six Mini DisplayPort outputs with a maximum resolution of 5760 × 2160 pixels (a 3×2 grid of 1080p displays).
  • On 13 April 2010, Apple added support for audio out using Mini DisplayPort in their MacBook Pro product line. This allows users to easily connect their Macbook Pros to their HDTVs using a cable adapting Mini DisplayPort to HDMI with full audio and video functionality.[16]
  • On 5 May 2010, HP announced Envy 14 and Envy 17 notebooks with Mini DisplayPort.[25]
  • On 20 October 2010, Dell announced XPS 14, 15, and 17 notebooks with Mini DisplayPort.[26]
  • On 24 February 2011, Apple and Intel announced Thunderbolt, a successor to Mini DisplayPort which adds support for PCI Express data connections while maintaining backwards compatibility with Mini DisplayPort-based peripherals.[27]
  • On 17 May 2011, Lenovo announced the ThinkPad X1 notebook with Mini DisplayPort.
  • In May 2011, Dell released the XPS 15z notebook with Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 15 May 2012, Lenovo announced the ThinkPad notebooks X1 Carbon, Helix, X230, L430, L530, T430s, T430, T530, W530 with Mini DisplayPort.
  • In 2012, Intel shipped the second generation Intel NUC of which the top model with an i5 had a Mini DisplayPort and the top i3 model had Thunderbolt through a Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 9 February 2013, Microsoft released the Surface Tablet, Surface Pro, equipped with Windows 8 Pro and Mini DisplayPort.
  • In June 2013, Intel shipped the third-generation Intel NUC with both Mini HDMI and Mini DisplayPort. (The i3 and i5 models, not the Celeron or Atom models)
  • On 5 July 2013, Asus announced new N Series laptops N550 and N750 with both HDMI and Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 25 July 2013, Dell announced the Precision M3800 mobile workstation with Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 8 August 2013, Dell announced the Latitude E7240 and E7440 business notebooks with Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 9 September 2013, Lenovo announced the ThinkPad X240s, L440, L540, T440, T440s, T440p, T540p and W540 with Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 22 October 2013, Microsoft released the Surface Pro 2, equipped with Windows 8.1 Pro and Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 20 June 2014, Microsoft released the Surface Pro 3 with Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 5 May 2015, Microsoft released the Surface 3 with Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 6 October 2015, Microsoft released the Surface Book, equipped with Windows 10 Pro and Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 10 October 2015, Microsoft released the Surface Pro 4, equipped with Windows 10 Pro and Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 2 June 2016, Gigabyte announced the Aero 14 with Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 11 November 2016, ECS Liva released the Liva Z Mini PC with Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 15 December 2016, Microsoft released the Surface Studio with Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 15 June 2017, Microsoft released the Surface Laptop, equipped with Windows 10 Pro, and the fifth-generation Surface Pro, equipped with Windows 10 Pro, both with Mini DisplayPort.
  • On 16 October 2018, Microsoft released the Surface Pro 6, equipped with Mini DisplayPort.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^Apple Mini DisplayPort Connector Dimensions, Apple Inc., 2008
  2. ^"About Apple video adapters and cables". Apple Support. Archived from the original on 28 February 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  3. ^"New MacBook Family Redefines Notebook Design". 2008-10-14. Archived from the original on 2010-03-16. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
  4. ^"LED Cinema Display - Technical Specifications". Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  5. ^"Mini DisplayPort Connector Licensing & Trademark Agreements". Apple Developer Connection. 2008-11-27. Retrieved 2008-11-27.
  6. ^"Apple Mini DisplayPort Connector Implementation License Checklist"(PDF). Apple. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  7. ^"Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter". Apple Store. 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
  8. ^"Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter". Apple Store. 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
  9. ^"Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter". Apple Store. 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
  10. ^David Chartier (November 17, 2008). "Apple brings HDCP to a new aluminum MacBook near you". Ars Technica.
  11. ^"Apple Mini DisplayPort DRM sparks controversy". November 26, 2008.
  12. ^"EFF: Apple DisplayPort DRM will lead to more piracy". November 26, 2008.
  13. ^"Mini DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter". Apple. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
  14. ^"Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter". Apple. Retrieved 2009-02-18.
  15. ^"Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter". Apple. Retrieved 2009-02-18.
  16. ^ abChris Foresman (April 13, 2010). "New MacBook Pros support audio over Mini DisplayPort". Ars Technica. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  17. ^Chris Foresman (July 22, 2009). "Mini DisplayPort no longer a hassle with cables and adapters". Ars Technica.
  18. ^"DisplayPort specification to add Apple's mini connector". MacWorld. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
  19. ^"Apple's mini connector set to be part of DisplayPort standard". AppleInsider. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
  20. ^"Apple's mini connector set to be part of DisplayPort standard". AppleInsider. 2009-10-13. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
  21. ^"Toshiba Introduces New Satellite, Tecra and Qosmio Laptops Equipped With 2010 Intel Core Processors". 7 January 2010. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  22. ^"Toshiba Laptop Computers, Notebooks, Netbooks and Accessories - Toshiba Laptops".
  23. ^"Toshiba Tecra A11 Laptop Computers". Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  24. ^"Toshiba: Leading Innovation". Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  25. ^"HP Envy 14 and 17 officially official, Envy 13 slowly waves goodbye". Engadget. 2010-05-05. Retrieved 2010-05-06.
  26. ^"Dell XPS Series Revamped". infosync. 2010-10-22. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  27. ^"Thunderbolt Technology: The Fastest Data Connection to Your PC Just Arrived" (Press release). Intel. Feb 24, 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
  28. ^"Introducing the New Surface Pro 6 – Ultra-light and Versatile – Microsoft Surface". Microsoft Store. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, VGA, Thunderbolt - Video Port Comparison

A new MacBook Pro comes with either two or four external ports, depending on the model you pick. A new MacBook Air has a pair of ports. But those MacBook ports are only of one type: Thunderbolt, which is compatible with USB-C. A 24-inch iMac comes with two Thunderbolt/USB 4 ports; some models also include two USB-C ports. You probably have devices that use USB-A, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, DisplayPort, HDMI, or something else. How do you connect these devices? With an adapter.

If you’re planning to buy a new 24-inch iMac, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, make sure you set aside a considerable amount of cash for the adapters you need. Apple doesn’t include any in the box, except for a power adapter.

Your best bet is to get a combination dock, like the Satechi Slim Aluminum Type-C Multi-Port Adapter ($60 on AmazonEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link). It connects via USB-C, and includes a USB-C pass-through port, two USB 3.0 ports, and an HDMI port with 4K (30Hz) support. With this, you don’t have to carry around multiple adapters.

If you don’t want a dock, or you can’t find a dock with the mix of connections you need, Apple or another company probably has an adapter for you. We’ve come up with this guide to help you sort out what you need, and we link to the appropriate adapter in the online Apple Store or on Amazon.

Be sure to check the return policies; sometimes adapters from third-parties don’t work. Read user reviews whenever possible, and read the specifications to make sure the adapter can do what you need it to do.

If there’s a connection we missed, or you have advice on what adapters to buy, let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

How to connect USB-C devices

The Thunderbolt ports in the current 24-inch iMac, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air work with USB-C devices, which have the same connector shape. If you want to use a USB-C device, you can just plug it into one of the Thunderbolt ports. No adapter necessary. Whew.

How to connect USB-A devices

USB-A is the USB connector with which you’re probably most familiar. It’s the USB connector that was on the previous MacBooks. (Terms like USB 4, USB 3 and USB 2 refer to the speed at which data travels through the connector.)

You can get a dock, like the before-mentioned Satechi. Or you can get Apple’s $19 USB-C to USB AdapterEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link.

Apple USB-C to USB Adapter


If you need to connect multiple USB-A devices, get a USB-C to USB-A hub. Anker sells a USB-C to 4-Port USB 3.0 HubEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link ($25 on Amazon) that provides four USB-A ports. 

How to connect micro B SuperSpeed devices

This connector is often used with external storage devices. You’ll need a new cable, like the $15 StarTech USB C to Micro USB CableEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link. 

The name of the cable is confusing, because it could be mistaken for micro USB. But if you check the product page on StarTech’s website, you can see a clear shot of the micro B SuperSpeed connector on the cable, which is quite different from micro USB.

How to connect an iPhone or iPad

For the iPhone and iPad, if you are still using the USB-A to Lightning (or 30-pin if you’re using an older device) cable that came with your device, you can get the USB-C to USB AdapterEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link mentioned above in the USB-A section.

Don’t want an adapter? Buy a $19 Lightning to USB-C CableEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link (1m). You can also get a 2-meter version for $29.

More recent iPhones and iPads include a USB-C to Lightning cable, and the iPad Pro includes a USB-C charging cable, so you don’t need the adapter for those devices.

How to connect the Lightning EarPods

There’s now a USB-C to Lightning adapter, thanks to the folks at Anker. It’s $25 on AmazonEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link.Remove non-product link This adapter has a female Lightning connector on one end, so you can plug in your Lightning earphones. The other side is a standard USB-C connector that you plug into your MacBook or 24-inch iMac.

anker usbc lightning audio

How to connect headphones with a 3.5mm headphone plug

You’re in luck. The MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and 24-inch iMac have a 3.5mm headphone jack. Just plug it in and you’re good to go. That was easy.

macbookpro 13 tbolt3 ports

Now, 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 AmazonEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link). The $12 Belkin RockStar 5-Jack Multi Headphone Audio SplitterEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link plugs into the headphone jack and adds five jacks.

How to connect Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 devices

Older versions of Thunderbolt have a different connector than the Thunderbolt connector on the current MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and 24-inch iMac. The adapter you need is Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 AdapterEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link.

Thunderbolt 3 USB-C to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter


How to connect an external display

This one can eat up a chunk of your budget, because there are so many different types of display connectors. Be prepared to buy several adapters.

DisplayPort and mini DisplayPort

To connect to a DisplayPort display, you need a USB-C to DisplayPort cable or adapter. Amazon sells the Cable Matters USB-C to DisplayPort Adapter cableEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link for $18, and it supports 4K video at 60Hz.

To connect a display with mini DisplayPort, you need an adapter like the Answin USB C to Mini DisplayPort adapter ($18 on AmazonRemove product link).


Apple offers the USB-C Digital AV Multiport AdapterEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link, a $69 device that also provides a USB-A port and a USB-C port that’s for charging only. Be warned: Apple released a new version of this adapter (model number A2119) in August 2019 that supports HDMI 2.0. The older version (model number A1621) supports HDMI 1.4. When shopping, check the model number (at an Apple store, you likely will get the new model). Apple has a support document that details the differences between the two adapters.



If you don’t want to spend that much, you can get an adapter that’s just a USB-C to HDMI adapter, such as Anker’s USB-C to HDMI Adapter ($17 on AmazonEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link). We really like the Nonda USB-C to HDMI Adapter ($18 on AmazonEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link). When shopping for such adapters, look out for at least 1080p support. The Nonda adapter has 4K video support.


Cable Matters has a 6-foot USB-C to DVI Adapter ($20 on AmazonEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link). They also sell 3-foot ($19) and 10-foot ($23) versions.


To connect a VGA display, Apple has a USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter ($66 on AmazonEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link). In addition to a VGA to USB-C connection, it also provides a USB-A port for connecting a USB device, and a USB-C charging port to keep your laptop battery happy.

On the more affordable side but without the USB ports is the Benfei USB-C to VGA Adapter, which is available on Amazon for $13Edit non-product linkRemove non-product link. 

How to connect to ethernet

You’ll probably use Wi-Fi most of the time, but using an ethernet connection has its advantages. To connect to an ethernet network, you need an adapter like the Belkin USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter, which is available on AmazonEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link for $27.

belkin usbc ethernet adapter

How to connect SD cards

If you use a DLSR or other type of stand-alone camera, it might have a way to transfer your files wirelessly. If not, you need an adapter to access the SD card, like the Cable Matters Dual Slot USB C Card Reader ($10 on AmazonEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link).

cable matters dual slot usb c card reader

If you have a USB-A card reader, you can try using the Apple’s $19 USB-C to USB AdapterEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link, or get a USB-C dock.

How to connect FireWire devices

If you have a FireWire to USB-A cable, you can try using Apple’s $19 USB-C to USB Adapter. If you have a device with a FireWire 1394 4-pin connector—it was commonly used on video cameras and looks like this—and you need a way to connect, you can try using a USB-A to FireWire 1394 4-pin cable ($8 on Amazon) with the Apple’s USB-C to USB Adapter.

Trying to connect FireWire 400 and 800 devices gets iffy. Apple has a Thunderbolt to FireWire AdapterEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link for $29, but it has a older Thunderbolt connector that doesn’t plug into the Thunderbolt port on a new MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or 24-inch iMac.

apple thunderbolt to firewire adapter


You could try daisy-chaining adapters, but that’s always risky and may not work, not to mention potentially bad for the adapters. Plug the Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter into Apple’s $49 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 AdapterEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link and then plug that into the Mac.

How to connect a printer with USB-B

Many printers nowadays have wireless support, so there’s no need for a cable. But maybe you have an older printer, or you find wireless printing unreliable. Most consumer printers have a USB-B port. It’s a squarish connector, much different from USB-A or USB-C.

You need a cable like the Cable Matters USB C Printer Cable, which has a USB-C to USB-B connection. A 1 meter cable is $7Edit non-product linkRemove non-product link; other lengths are available.

cable matters usbc usbb cable

If you already have a USB-C to USB AdapterEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link, you can take the USB-A to USB-B cable that came with your printer and plug it into the adapter. Then you plug the adapter into the laptop.

How to add a classic MagSafe power connector to the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro

The power adapter that comes with the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air doesn’t have a breakaway MagSafe connector. MagSafe was a laptop lifesaver in instances where someone tripped over the power cable.

But you can still add a MagSafe connector. Tesha’s USB C Magnetic Charger Charging Cable  ($20 on AmazonEdit non-product linkRemove non-product link) is a power-only cable that has an adapter that acts like a MagSafe connector. It is available in silver or black.


Cables mac video

HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, & VGA - everything Mac, iPad, and iPhone users need to know

As years rolled on, the connection and technology that puts an image on your Mac's display has changed, improving for the better. Here's everything you need to know about the different connections between your Mac and a screen.

One of the key - but often overlooked - areas of computing is the back of your monitor. While everyone is concerned about the Mac or device that's rendering images, or the quality and vibrance of the screen, no-one really looks at the technology that connects the two elements together.

In this article, we will cover the main types of connectors you can find on computing equipment, including an overview of the associated technologies and capabilities of each, so you know what you'll be dealing with when you encounter another one in the future.

Legacy connections

While there have been many different ways to transport video over a cable, in 2020, Apple's proprietary video connectors are long gone. There's only really two old types that you should be concerned about at this point — VGA and DVI.

VGA - Super VGA, analog signal, and limitations

While not the oldest video standard in existence, VGA is generally going to be the oldest that you will encounter when trying to get a picture from a computer to display on a screen or projector. As the oldest, it was a well-established medium, and so was quite ubiquitous, but as other connections became commonplace, the connector has disappeared off most modern hardware in favor of DVI and the far more common HDMI and DisplayPort.

The aging connection is still being discussed here as some people hold on to older devices still sporting it, such as large CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors, projectors, and legacy hardware for support reasons.

VGA cables are still needed on rare occasions [Pixabay]

VGA cables are still needed on rare occasions [Pixabay]

VGA (Video Graphics Array) is the more unusual connection of the group being talked about today, as it is analog rather than digital. The 15 pins of the connector sends and receives analog signals, which are especially useful for CRT screens like the ones used in arcade cabinets.

However, not all hardware needs to use analog signals, so it is converted from analog to digital before being used by the display. By the nature of being an analog signal at one stage, converted from digital to analog and potentially back again, this means there's a huge potential loss of detail in transmission versus a digital-only workflow.

That's before you take into account how signal can deteriorate over distance, with longer cables significantly eroding quality.

If you have to use VGA, be aware that it is a very limited connection type. The original versions of VGA generally functioned at a lowly resolution of 640x480, though the development of extensions such as the Extended Graphics Array (XGA), the more accepted Super VGA, and VESA BIOS Extensions, helped give the VGA connector more utility by boosting the resolution range.

In theory, a VGA cable can push through a QXGA video signal at a resolution of up to 2,048x1,536 pixels at 85Hz.

This makes it a generally bad idea to use VGA for video in cases where video quality is desired. For last-ditch efforts where nothing else will work and it is the only remaining option, it'll do the job, but there are far better options out there.

DVI - Digital signal, basis for HDMI, but still old

The introduction of DVI (Digital Visual Interface) developed by the Digital Display Working Group in 1999 brought with it a new connection, one that was squarer and that bumped up the 15 pins of VGA up to 29 pins.

While the "Digital" element of the name confirms it is capable of transferring a digital signal, it also has the capability to handle both digital and analog signals. Built-in backwards compatibility means it can also be used to carry VGA signals, and can even be connected using conversion adaptors.

DVI is still hanging around, but is being replaced by HDMI and DVI [Pixabay]

DVI is still hanging around, but is being replaced by HDMI and DVI [Pixabay]

The use of digital signals means the cable is capable of providing a far more accurate image than VGA, since the image doesn't have to be converted to analog and back again. You can end up with a far sharper image with DVI over VGA, which makes it more preferable for computing.

Due to the dual nature of DVI, there's actually three primary types of cables: DVI-A for analog-only signal, DVI-D for Digital-only signal, and DVI-I which can handle both. It is worth bearing this in mind as using the wrong variation of cable, determined by the pins on the connector, could make the cable unusable for your particular needs in rare cases.

Furthermore, as there's a secondary "Dual Link" mode for both DVI-D and DVI-I, which increases the data transmission rate and power of the cable versus a single-link version. While a single-link cable could potentially handle an image of up to 1,920x1,200 at 60Hz, a dual-link version can handle 2,560x1,600-resolution imagery, again at 60Hz. Analog signals max out at 1,920x1,200 60Hz.

As with VGA, the length of the cable can make an impact on the quality of the signal that passes through. Generally speaking, a DVI cable of up to 15 feet will work at specification, but a single-link cable can potentially reach 49 feet and still offer a usable resolution of up to 1,280 by 1,024.

For longer distances, a DVI booster to repeat the signal will be required, to minimize the chance of a degrading signal.

Like VGA, DVI has slowly disappeared from devices, with fewer pieces of video hardware using the connector. It is still available to use in many cases, but most users would instead prefer to employ newer connection types.

Modern connections

As technology advances, the limitations of older connection types require the creation of new versions, capable of handling more bandwidth, higher-resolution video, and in some instances, things that aren't video at all.

HDMI - ubiquitous and useful

Commonly used on televisions, set-top boxes, game consoles, and other domestic video appliances, HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface is a ubiquitous connection type that is easy to use. Consisting of a fairly standard 19-pin plug, the connector is very easy to plug in, while its construction putting the pins on the inside of a hollowed-out section making it much more robust than earlier types.

As HDMI has improved over time with new versions, the connector has remained the same, but its capabilities have expanded, such as increasing the amount of bandwidth capable of being used over one cable. Built-in backwards compatibility means that devices with differing version numbers and capabilities will usually be able to function together, typically defaulting to the highest compatible version that both sides can use.

An example of a HDMI connector

An example of a HDMI connector

The cable itself will also need to meet the required standard for it to be of any use, especially for the extremely high resolutions capable in later versions.

The original standard, HDMI 1.0 from 2002, is largely based on DVI's link architecture and video transmission format, but during blanking intervals the remaining bandwidth could be used for other things, such as audio and data. It was capable of a resolution of up to 1,920x1,200 at 60Hz.

The inclusion of audio support meant that users could employ speakers built into a monitor or television, without relying on a separate audio cable or speakers as they would under VGA or DVI.

HDMI version comparison

ReleaseResolution and
refresh rate
Max data rate (Gbps)
HDMI 1.020021920x1080, 60Hz3.96
HDMI 1.120041920x1080, 60Hz3.96
HDMI 1.220051920x1080, 60Hz
2560x1440, 30Hz
HDMI 1.320061920x1080, 120Hz
2560x1440, 60Hz
HDMI 1.3a20061920x1080, 120Hz
2560x1440, 60Hz
HDMI 1.4
20091920x1080, 120Hz
2560x1440, 60Hz
3840x2160, 30Hz
4096x2160, 24Hz
HDMI 1.4a
20101920x1080, 120Hz
2560x1440, 60Hz
3840x2160, 30Hz
4096x2160, 24Hz
HDMI 2.0
20131920x1080, 240Hz
2560x1440, 144Hz
3840x2160, 60Hz
5120x2880, 30Hz
HDMI 2.120171920x1080, 240Hz
2560x1440, 240Hz
3840x2160, 144Hz
5120x2880, 60Hz
7680x4320, 30Hz

Version 1.2 in 2005 added support for 720p video at 100Hz and 120Hz, while HDMI 1.2a at the end of the same year added Consumer Electronic Control functionality.

HDMI 1.3 in 2006 increased the bandwidth allowing for 1080p video at 120Hz or 2,560x1,440 video at 60Hz, as well as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio streams, and a new type C Mini connector. HDMI 1.3a, out later the same year with some slight modifications.

The release of HDMI 1.4 in 2009 offered far higher resolution video, at 4,096x2,160 24Hz and 3,840x2,160 at up to 30Hz, along with support for a built-in 100Mbps Ethernet connection for sharing a network connection, ARC (Audio Return Channel), 3D Over HDMI, and a Micro HDMI connector.

HDMI 1.4a in 2010 added in 3D formats for broadcast usage, and HDMI 14b in 2011 provided minor changes.

A comparison of features added to HDMI standards over time.

A comparison of features added to HDMI standards over time.

By 2013, HDMI had reached version 2.0, with it capable of handling 4K-resolution video at up to 60Hz with 24-bit color depth. The major release also bumped up its audio specifications to offer 32 audio channels, and for those with sufficient 3D-viewing hardware, the ability to show two video streams on the same screen simultaneously.

HDMI 2.0a in 2015 added support for HDR (High Dynamic Range) video that uses static metadata, with further HDR support changes made in HDMI 2.0b.

The most recent version, HDMI 2.1, boasts the ability to view 4K video at 120Hz and 8K video at 120Hz, thanks to its higher potential bandwidth of 48Gbps. The standard also includes Dynamic HDR support, DSC (Display Stream Compression), an HFR (High Frame Rate) mode for up to 10K-resolution video, enhanced refresh rate functions offering variable refresh rates (VRR) and low latency modes, and other features.

A HDMI to DVI adapter [Pixabay]

A HDMI to DVI adapter [Pixabay]

As a practically ubiquitous connection and offering exceptional backwards compatibility, HDMI is a very capable connection to use for video. It's even possible to use a relatively cheap adapter to make it work with DVI connections, though you would be limited to the maximum resolution output under DVI's specifications rather than anything like 4K.

DisplayPort - Computer-oriented

Though not as widespread as HDMI in terms of television use or other devices, the VESA-standardized DisplayPort has found itself to be more a computing-related connector than HDMI. Introduced in 2006, the technology also offers many of the same sort of basic features as HDMI, such as being able to handle audio signals, and it can even be compatible with HDMI and DVI with the appropriate adapters.

However, DisplayPort was developed and has evolved with a different focus. While HDMI is primarily an AV interface that is also supported by monitors, DisplayPort is instead meant for computer displays, rather than other screen types.

The main DisplayPort connector has 20 pins, but it is built in a similar way to HDMI in shielding the pins within the connector, instead of making them externally visible. It also has a fairly simple to understand plug-in system without screws to hold it in place.

One major advantage DisplayPort has over HDMI is that it is technically possible to have multiple monitors running through a single DisplayPort connection, which cannot be done on HDMI. However, this is not currently possible within macOS.

A DisplayPort cable end [via Apple Store]

A DisplayPort cable end [via Apple Store]

Again, as the standards changed, different capabilities were introduced to DisplayPort, including one prompted by Apple itself.

The original from 2006 had a maximum bandwidth capacity of 10.8Gbps and an effective total data rate of 8.64Gbps, which could allow for 1080p video at 144Hz, 2,560x1,440 video at 85Hz, and 3,840x2,160 video at 30Hz.

DisplayPort 1.1 didn't really change the capabilities of DisplayPort, but did introduce the ability to use alternative link layer technologies, for example the use of fiber optics, to extend the length of the cable without degrading the signal. Support for HDCP was also included.

By 2010, DisplayPort 1.2 increased its total data rate to 17.28Gbps, allowing it to to handle 1080p240 video as well as 2,560x1,440 at 165Hz, 4K at 75Hz, and 5,120x2,880 at 30Hz. DisplayPort 1.2 also included support for Apple's Mini DisplayPort connector, which shrunk down the size of the connector considerably. After a period on its own, as technology allowed, it shared the same connector as Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2.

DisplayPort version comparison

ReleaseResolution and
refresh rate
Max data rate (Gbps)
DisplayPort 1.020061920x1080, 144Hz
2560x1440, 85Hz
3840x2160, 30Hz
DisplayPort 1.120071920x1080, 144Hz
2560x1440, 85Hz
3840x2160, 30Hz
DisplayPort 1.220101920x1080, 240Hz
2560x1440, 165Hz
3840x2160, 75Hz
5120x2880, 30Hz
DisplayPort 1.2a20131920x1080, 240Hz
2560x1440, 165Hz
3840x2160, 75Hz
5120x2880, 30Hz
DisplayPort 1.320141920x1080, 240Hz
2560x1440, 240Hz
3840x2160, 120Hz
5120x2880, 60Hz
DisplayPort 1.4
(with DSC)
20161920x1080, 240Hz
2560x1440, 240Hz
3840x2160, 240Hz
5120x2880, 60Hz
7680x4320, 60Hz
DisplayPort 1.4a
(with DSC)
20181920x1080, 240Hz
2560x1440, 240Hz
3840x2160, 240Hz
5120x2880, 60Hz
7680x4320, 60Hz
DisplayPort 2.0
(with DSC)
20191920x1080, 240Hz
2560x1440, 240Hz
3840x2160, 240Hz
5120x2880, 180Hz
7680x4320, 85Hz
10240x4320, 60Hz
15360x8640, 60HZ

DisplayPort 1.2a in 2013 added support for VESA's Adaptive Sync, which enabled devices to use AMD's FreeSync technology.

For DisplayPort 1.3, the increase in bandwidth to 32.4Gbps and total data rate of 25.92Gbps meant users could go up to 120Hz on a 4K image, as well as facilitating 5K video at 60Hz, and even 8K at 30Hz.

DisplayPort 1.4 in 2016 added features such as Display Stream Compression 1.2, adjustments to how it handled HDR10 content, Forward Error Correction, and an increase in audio channels.

The addition of DSC helped enable an increase in supported resolution, without needing an increase in bandwidth from 1.3, so it could support 7,680x4,320 video (8K) at 60Hz, and even 4K video at 120Hz complete with HDR.

VESA introduced the DisplayPort 2.0 standard in 2019, promising support for resolutions higher than 8K, enhanced HDR support, and better refresh rates, as well as improvements to how it handles multiple displays, with a view to 4K virtual reality. In theory, it could handle at most three 10K-resolution displays at 60Hz, three 4K displays at 90Hz, or one 16K-resolution display at 60Hz.

While the standard is out, products using DisplayPort 2.0 aren't anticipated to be released until late 2020 or early 2021, so widespread support isn't likely for some time.

What about USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, and Lightning?

Neither USB-C nor Lighting can really be called a video connection per-se, as they are instead used to provide data transfers rather than specializing in video. That being said, both are still capable of being used for video transfers.

For USB Type-C connectors, it can support technologies including Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort, and HDMI, meaning supported devices can employ a USB-C port to provide signal to a monitor. As well as eliminating the need for a socket for a larger connector on mobile devices, it is typical that a USB-C display will also be able to handle some other data-related items, such as USB ports, to take advantage of any remaining bandwidth without requiring the use of other ports on the host device.

Both DisplayPort and HDMI can leverage the Alt Mode capabilities of USB Type-C for video output. Rather than using a dongle or an adaptor, Alt Mode allows for a USB-C to HDMI or USB-C to DisplayPort cable to pass video signal through to a display directly.

For HDMI Alt Mode, it supports all HDMI 1.4b features, including 4K resolutions, surround sound, ARC, 3D content, the HDMI Ethernet Channel, CEC, and HDCP 1.4 and 2.2.

It is a similar story for DisplayPort over USB Type-C, as its Alt Mode can support full DisplayPort Audio and Video at 8K 60Hz, SuperSpeed USB 3.1 data, and up to 100W of power delivery. It is also backwards compatible to VGA, DVI, and HDMI with adaptors, with support for up to HDMI 2.0a at 4K resolution.

An example of a USB Type-C to DisplayPort cable

An example of a USB Type-C to DisplayPort cable

In the case of Thunderbolt-based setups, multiple devices can be daisy-chained to a USB Type-C port, including a monitor, further reducing the number of devices physically connected to the computer. Then there's the extensive market of docks that provide a physical DisplayPort, HDMI, or even VGA or DVI connection for the user, that also connects to the computer via USB Type-C or ThunderBolt.

As for Lightning, Apple sells adaptors for HDMI and VGA, so an iPad can connect to a monitor without the user needing to upgrade to one with USB-C.

Video in Apple's ecosystem

Apple's currently-available roster of devices is quite up to date in terms of what is supported, even without needing to acquire adapters. This, of course, excludes iPhones and iPad models equipped with Lightning and not USB-C, as they will need to use an adapter to output video to a display non-wirelessly, though there's always the option of using Screen Mirroring via AirPlay.

The iPad Pro have USB-C, which allows for DisplayPort output directly without an adapter, though again adapters can be used for HDMI and other connections.

On the Mac side, the iMac and iMac Pro models have USB-C ports capable of native DisplayPort output, with HDMI, DVI, and VGA supported using adapters. The Mac mini also offers USB-C DisplayPort support, but also includes a HDMI 2.0 port.

The Mac mini is one of the few Macs sporting a HDMI port.

The Mac mini is one of the few Macs sporting a HDMI port.

The current Mac Pro's configurable video options include HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort connections as standard, though quantities vary depending on the MPX modules used. Since it also include PCIe expansion, this serves as further expansion opportunities, as well as DisplayPort-supporting USB-C connections.

The MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and 16-inch MacBook Pro all offer native DisplayPort over USB-C, and adapter-based VGA and HDMI connections.

Naturally the Apple TV HD has a HDMI port supporting HDMI 1.4. The Apple TV 4K goes one better, supporting HDMI 2.0a.

What video connection should I use?

The problem with summing up what connection you should use is that there's so many different combinations of devices, ports, and user needs. There are, however, some general things to keep in mind.

For a start, you should steer away from DVI and VGA where possible. While there may be compatibility reasons to use either of them, such as being the last available ports on a display, or the only port on a projector in a conference room, there are usually better options available to you.

While that does largely leave DisplayPort and HDMI as the main two to consider for video, there's no winner that you absolutely must use out of the pair. Both enable high frame rates and resolutions, so for general users, it's fine to use either of them.

Again, there's exceptions to this, such as users with a need for multiple high-resolution monitors that are on the bleeding edge of standards and expense reports. Those users will want to pay closer attention to each standard's merits and capabilities, but the average user doesn't need to worry about that.

A better thing to concern yourself about is whether you can connect with a cable alone, or if you need extra hardware like an adapter or a dock. If there's a HDMI port on the Mac, then that's fine to use, just as it is to take advantage of DisplayPort via USB-C.

It's more a case of whether the way you want to connect devices together matches up to the reality of connections and cables on hand. So long as you see an image on a screen, that's all that really matters.

How to transfer files between two MacBook Pros using Thunderbolt 3

How to Plug a MacBook Into a TV & Get a Picture

By David Weedmark

You need an adapter to connect a MacBook to your HDMI cable.

Connecting a MacBook to a TV and getting a picture on the screen usually just requires the proper cables and adapters. In some cases, depending on the TV model, you may need to manually adjust the MacBook's video settings to get a proper picture on the TV. Once they are connected, you can close the MacBook while still viewing videos or pictures on the TV, provided you have an external mouse and keyboard connected.

Cables and Adapters

Examine the ports on the MacBook, or consult your user guide to determine what type of video cable you need. Most modern MacBooks use a DVI or mini-DVI port. MacBook video ports have a video icon beside them. DVI ports have a set of 24 square pins, with four square pins beside those. Mini-DVI ports look like small USB ports.

Examine the TV to see what type of video cable you need for it. Most high-definition TVs use an HDMI port, which transmits high-speed digital video and sound. Older TVs may have a VGA port, which is trapezoid-shaped, or a round S-video port.

Select a single cable if possible to connect the MacBook video-out port to the TV's video-in port. In most cases you need a cable that works with your TV as well as an adapter to connect the cable to your MacBook video-out port.

Decide how you want to listen to sound while the MacBook is connected to the TV. Although the TVs HDMI port is designed to receive sound, sound may not be transmitted from the MacBook's video-out port, depending on the specific model you have. You can use a stereo headphone to dual RCA adapter cable to connect the MacBook's headphone port to your TV. Alternatively, you can connect external speakers to the MacBook.

Connecting the MacBook to the TV

Turn off the TV and connect the video cable to the TV video-in port. Connect the adapter to the cable and then connect the adapter to the MacBook video-out port.

Turn on the TV and use the TV's menu to select the HDMI, VGA or S-Video input. Wait a couple seconds for the MacBook to automatically display its screen contents on the TV.

Select "System Preferences" from the Apple menu and click "Display" if the TV is not displaying the MacBook screen correctly. Select "Mirror" to show the entire screen on the TV. You can also adjust the resolution and screen size if desired.

Closing the MacBook While Watching TV

Connect an external USB keyboard and mouse to the MacBook if you want to close the MacBook while viewing pictures or videos on the TV.

Connect the TV to the MacBook using the instructions above.

Close the MacBook lid and wait a moment. Mac OS X Lion displays a blue screen on the TV for a second or two, then shows the MacBook's desktop again. If you are using OS X Snow Leopard, jiggle the mouse after closing the lid to display the screen contents on the TV.



Writer Bio

A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.


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