Mac Basics: Ports and connectors on your Mac

Your Mac includes a number of ports and connectors so that you can connect displays, drives, keyboards, networks, and more. This article describes the most common connections, and what they are for.

Identifying ports

Your Mac comes with a number of ports, located on the front, side or back of the computer. For example, if you have a Mac notebook computer, it may look like this:

Mac notebook ports

If you're using a desktop Mac, like an iMac, it might look something like this:

Mac desktop ports

What are these ports used for?

The ports on your Mac usually are marked with a symbol that explains what the port is used for.

  • MagSafe port: On a Mac notebook, this is where you connect the MagSafe power cable.
  • USB port: A wired external keyboard or mouse connects to your computer's USB port, as do many printers and USB flash drives. Wireless keyboards, trackpads, and printers do not need to use a USB port—these use wireless Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology. Learn more about using USB devices with Mac computers here.
  • Thunderbolt: Connect a Thunderbolt display, or connect a Mini DisplayPort to DVI, VGA, HDMI, or DisplayPort adapter. You can also connect storage devices, video capture, FireWire, and gigabit ethernet adapters directly to your Mac's Thunderbolt port. 
  • HDMI port: You can use this port and an HDMI cable to connect to the HDMI port of an HDTV, and use the TV as an external display. You can also use an Apple TV and AirPlay Mirroring to turn your HDTV into an external display.
  • Ethernet port: If you connect to the Internet without Wi-Fi, you probably have a modem or router connected to your computer's Ethernet port. If your Mac doesn't have an Ethernet port but you need one, you can connect an Ethernet adapter using USB or Thunderbolt.
  • FireWire port: Some Macs come with FireWire 400 or FireWire 800 ports for connecting peripheral devices such as external hard drives. If you need to connect a FireWire device but your Mac doesn't include a FireWire port, you may be able to use a FireWire to Thunderbolt adapter.
  •  Audio out: Connect your Mac to an audio system, or connect headphones or speakers using the audio out port. 
  • Audio in: Some Mac computers include built-in microphones , or an audio in port ( or ). If your Mac doesn't have an audio in port, you can use an adapter such as a USB to audio adapter to connect an external audio source.
  • Some Mac computers include a card reader slot, such as an SD card or SDXC slot. This makes it easy to transfer photos to and from your computer.

Which ports does my Mac have?

To learn more about which ports and connectors your Mac includes, follow these steps.

  1. Find your computer's serial number.
  2. Go to the Tech Specs page on the Apple Support website.
  3. Enter your computer's serial number into the search box on the Tech Specs page. The search results should include your model of Mac.
  4. Click your computer to see its technical specifications, which include the ports and connectors.

The user guide for your Mac also includes information about the specific ports included on your computer.

Adding ports

Some Macs include more built-in ports than others. If you need to connect more devices than your Mac has ports for, you may be able to add an adapter or card.

  • For USB, FIreWire or Thunderbolt peripherals, consider connecting a third-party hub. Some devices include built-in hubs or additional ports. For example, If you've connected an external display to your computer, check to see if the display includes a built-in hub with additional ports.
  • If you don't see the port you need, or a cable doesn't appear to fit where you think it would, check to see if an adapter is available. For example, newer Mac notebooks can use the MagSafe to MagSafe 2 converter to connect to older MagSafe power adapters. If you need to connect a DVI or VGA display, you may need a Mini DisplayPort video adapter

There are many options for connecting devices available. Check the Apple Store or your local Apple reseller for options.

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