Using USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports and adapters on your Mac notebook

Learn about the power, data-transfer, and video capabilities of the USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports on your Mac notebook. Also learn about the adapters and cables you can use with these ports.

USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports

USB-C is a next-generation industry standard that allows charging, data transfer, and video—all in one simple connector.

MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015) and later has one USB-C port. 

MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports), MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports), and MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016) have either two or four ports with additional Thunderbolt 3 features built in. You can learn more about what Thunderbolt 3 over USB-C ports brings to your MacBook Pro. 

Through USB-C ports, you can:

  • Charge your Mac.
  • Provide power out.
  • Transfer data between your Mac and other devices.
  • Connect video output such as HDMI, VGA, and DisplayPort (requires adapter).
  • Connect to other technologies, such as Ethernet (requires adapter).
  • Connect Thunderbolt displays and accessories to MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports), MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports), or MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016) with an adapter.

The USB-C port on your MacBook supports data transfer speeds at up to 5 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 1). On MacBook Pro, the ports support Thunderbolt data transfer at up to 40Gbps and USB data-transfer at up to 10 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 2).

29W, 61W, or 87W USB-C Power Adapter and USB-C Charge Cable

The Apple 29W, 61W, or 87W USB-C Power Adapter and a USB-C Charge Cable are included in the box with your Mac. Connect the adapter to the charge cable to charge your Mac.

    

Your Mac will charge from USB-C power adapters not manufactured by Apple if they adhere to the USB Power Delivery specification.

You can also use the USB-C Charge Cable to transfer data at USB 2.0 (480 Mbps) speeds between your Mac and another USB-C device.

Additional USB-C adapters and cables (sold separately) allow you to use the USB-C port to connect displays and other devices to your Mac. See the sections below for more information.

USB-C to Lightning Cable

The Apple USB-C to Lightning Cable lets you connect any iOS device with a Lightning connector to your Mac. It provides data transfer and power to iOS devices. For example, you can use this cable to connect your Mac to these devices:

  • iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
  • Magic Mouse 2
  • Magic Keyboard
  • Magic Trackpad 2

You can also charge these devices without using your Mac by connecting them to the USB-C to Lightning Cable and plugging the cable into the 29W, 61W, or 87W USB-C power adapter.

The USB-C to Lightning Cable supports data transfer at up to USB 2.0 (480 Mbps) speeds.

This cable requires no power to operate. However, devices that you plug into it might draw power from your Mac, so you should disconnect it when you're not using it.

 

USB-C to USB Adapter

The Apple USB-C to USB Adapter lets you connect your Mac to any standard USB (USB-A) device or hub for data transfer and charging. For example, you can use this adapter to connect your Mac to these devices:

  • Portable flash drive
  • Hard drive
  • Digital camera
  • Powered USB 3 hub
  • USB to Ethernet Adapter
  • Lightning to USB Cable for charging and syncing your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

The USB-C to USB Adapter supports data transfer at up to 5 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 1). 

This adapter requires no power to operate. However, devices that you plug into it might draw power from your Mac, so you should disconnect it when you're not using it.

Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter

The Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) Thunderbolt 2 Adapter allows you to connect these devices to your MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports:

  • Thunderbolt (10 Gbps) devices
  • Thunderbolt 2 (20 Gbps) devices
  • Thunderbolt displays

For example, you can use this adapter to connect your Mac to an Apple Thunderbolt Display or third-party Thunderbolt 2 storage device. 

Compatible with:

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

Learn more about the compatibility of the Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter.

 

USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

The USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter allows you to simultaneously:

  • Charge your Mac.
  • Connect to other standard USB (USB-A) devices or hubs.
  • Connect your Mac to external HDMI video devices such as a TV, projector, or display.

The HDMI port on this adapter supports the following:

  • TVs, displays, and projectors that you connect via HDMI
  • HDMI 1.4b
  • 720p and 1080p HDTVs, projectors, and displays at up to 1920 x 1200 resolution
  • 4K Ultra-HD TVs and displays with the following resolutions (learn more):
    • 3840 x 2160 at 30Hz
    • 4096 x 2160 at 24Hz 

The USB-A port on this adapter supports data transfer at up to 5 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 1). Connect standard USB devices or hubs.

The USB-C port on this adapter charges your computer, but it doesn't transfer data. Use the supplied 29W, 61W, or 87W USB-C Power Adapter and USB-C Charge Cable to charge your Mac.

This adapter draws power from your MacBook even when the Mac is asleep. If your computer isn't connected to AC power, be sure to unplug the adapter to avoid draining your battery.

 

USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter

The Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter allows you to simultaneously:

  • Charge your Mac
  • Connect to other standard USB (USB-A) devices or hubs
  • Connect your Mac to external VGA video devices such as a TV, projector, or display.

The VGA port on this adapter supports TVs, displays, and projectors that you connect via VGA. It supports these at resolutions up to 1920 x 1200.

The USB-A port on this adapter supports data transfer at up to 5 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 1). Connect standard USB devices or hubs.

The USB-C port on this adapter charges your computer, but it doesn't transfer data. Use the supplied 29W, 61W, or 87W USB-C Power Adapter and USB-C Charge Cable to charge your Mac.

This adapter draws power from your Mac even when the Mac is asleep. If your computer isn't connected to AC power, be sure to unplug the adapter to avoid draining your battery.

USB hubs and devices

You can connect USB hubs and devices to the USB-C adapters as described above.

USB hubs and other USB devices that supply power won't charge your Mac. Use the supplied 29W, 61W, or 87W USB-C Power Adapter and USB-C Charge Cable to charge your Mac.

Some USB drives might not appear in the Finder when you plug them in. Try plugging the drive into the adapter before plugging the adapter into your Mac. Or try connecting the drive through a powered USB-A hub.

The following drives aren't compatible with the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter or USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter:

  • G-Tech G-DRIVE mobile USB 3.0 Hard Drive 
  • Apple USB SuperDrive manufactured before Fall 2010 (learn more)

Ethernet adapters

You can connect your Mac to Ethernet using certain adapters, like the Belkin USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. If you use another third-party USB to Ethernet adapter, check with the manufacturer to see if you need any additional drivers.

Transfer data to and from MacBook with USB-C port

Your MacBook with USB-C ports supports USB target disk mode. You can enable target disk mode and use the following USB-C cables to transfer data. These cables are not currently available from Apple.

  • USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 USB-C Cable (USB-C to USB-C): Use this cable to migrate data from a MacBook with a USB-C port to another MacBook with a USB-C port using the Setup Assistant or Migration Assistant application. 
  • USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 USB-A to USB-C Cable: Use this cable to manually transfer data from any Mac with USB-A port(s) to your MacBook with USB-C port. This cable cannot be used to migrate data using the Setup Assistant or Migration Assistant application.

The USB-C Charge Cable (2m) that came with your MacBook does not support target disk mode.

To enable target disk mode, hold down the T key while starting the MacBook that you want to use as the disk. Then connect either of the USB-C cables described above.

Transfer data to and from MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports

If your Mac notebook has more than one Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port, it's a MacBook Pro. You can use Migration Assistant or target disk mode to transfer data between MacBook Pro models with Thunderbolt 3 ports and other Macs.

To transfer data between a MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 ports and another Mac notebook with USB-C, connect the two computers with a USB-C cable such as the Belkin 3.1 USB-C to USB-C Cable. Then follow the steps for using Migration Assistant or target disk mode to move your files.

To transfer data between a MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 ports and another Mac with Thunderbolt, connect a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter to your MacBook Pro and use a Thunderbolt cable to connect the adapter to the other Mac. Then follow the steps for using Migration Assistant or target disk mode to move your files.

Learn more

Learn how to move your content to your new MacBook from an older Mac.

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