Thunderbolt Adapter Guide for Mac

All new Apple equipment, whether it is a MacBook Pro laptop or a MacBook Air, or even iMac desktops, comes with an increasingly limited number of ports, and if you want more, like the new ones. iMac, you will have to pay for them.

Added to this is the fact that these ports are only of one type: Thunderbolt, which is USB-C compliant. A 24-inch iMac comes with two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports; some models also include two USB-C ports.

As of today, you most likely have devices that use USB-A, Thunderbolt 1, Thunderbolt 2, DisplayPort, HDMI, or something else. That being said: how do you go about connecting them to your new gear? There is no other choice but to use one of the Thunderbolt adapters that we propose here.

If you plan to buy a new 24-inch iMac, MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air, be sure to set aside a considerable amount in your budget for the adapters you will need. Apple doesn’t include any in the box, except for the power adapter.

The best option is usually to choose to buy a combo base, such as the multiport adapter Satechi Slim Aluminum Type-C for € 59.99 at Amazon. Another similar device is the DUB-M810 by D-Link with a total of 8 connectors in 1 of similar price.

Both connect via USB-C and include a USB-C pass-through port, two USB 3.0 ports, plus a 4K (30Hz) -compliant HDMI port for an additional display. With this, you will not have to carry several adapters on your travels.

If you do not want to purchase a base, or cannot find a base with the combination of connections you need, Apple or another company probably has the adapter you are looking for. We have created this guide to help you choose what you really need.

Be sure to check the product return policies. Sometimes third-party adapters don’t work as they should. Consult user opinions whenever possible and read the specifications carefully.

How to connect USB-C devices

The Thunderbolt ports on the new 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 simply connect it to one of the Thunderbolt ports.

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No additional adapter is needed, unless you already have them occupied. Uff.

How to connect USB-A devices

USB-A is the USB connector that you are probably most familiar with. It is the USB connector that we had in previous MacBooks. (Terms like USB 4, USB 3, and USB 2 refer to the speed at which data travels through the connector.)

In the new models, this connector has disappeared, so you will have to resort to an adapter such as the Satechi or D-Link mentioned above. You can also get the official Apple adapter from USB-C to USB for a price of € 25.

If you need to connect multiple USB-A devices, go for a USB-C to USB-A hub instead. In Amazon you will find models of very varied brands, as is the case of the model 12 in 1 by VAVA.

How to connect SuperSpeed ​​micro B devices

The connector is often used with external storage devices. You will need a new cable, such as the USB C to Micro USB cable from Startech from just € 15.

The name of the cable is confusing, because it could be confused with micro USB. But if you check the product page on the website of Startech, you will be able to see a clear picture of the micro B SuperSpeed ​​connector on the cable, which is quite different from micro USB.

How to connect an iPhone or iPad

Well, this will largely depend on the model or generation of iPhone or iPad device you have, since if you are still using the USB-A to Lightning cable (or 30-pin if it is older), you may need the USB-C to USB adapter mentioned before.

If it turns out that you do not want to use an adapter, you will have to buy one of the Lightning to USB-C cables whose cost on Amazon is around € 12.99. You can get a longer version (up to 2 meters) and braided for a little more money.

Newer iPhones and iPads include a USB-C to Lightning cable, and the iPad Pro includes a USB-C charging cable since it’s its new connection port, so you won’t need the adapter for these new devices.

How to connect the Lightning headphones

It’s about a adapter With a Lightning female connector on one end and standard USB-C on the other, so you can use compatible headphones on your MacBook or iMac computer through one of the included ports.

How to connect 3.5mm jack headphones

In this case, we are in luck. Both the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air and the 24-inch iMac (2021) keep the 3.5mm headphone jack, so you just have to plug it in and go. That easy.

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If you happen to need a second headphone adapter, you can always use a 3.5mm audio splitter. There are infinity, like the Belkin with outputs to connect up to 5 different headphones.

How to connect Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 devices

Older versions of Thunderbolt have a different connector than the Thunderbolt connector on today’s 24-inch MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iMac. The adapter you need is the Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 from Manzana which comes to cost about € 55.

How to connect with an outer screen

This can eat up a large part of your budget, because there are so many different types of display connectors. Next, we are going to indicate the combinations with which you can find so as not to get lost or take surprises.

DisplayPort and mini DisplayPort

To connect your computer to a DisplayPort display, you need a USB-C to DisplayPort cable or adapter. On Amazon You will find them of all the brands that have been and have yet to be found. Check the specifications if you want it to support 4K @ 60 Hz or higher resolutions.

If what you need is a adapter mini DisplayPort, the price for which you will find it will be very similar.


Apple offers the adapter multiport USB-C digital AV, but for a price of € 79, which also has a USB-A port and a USB-C port that will only serve to charge. Be careful. 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. If you buy on the web, you can check the box for the model number, and at an Apple store, you will likely get the new model.

But if you buy elsewhere or at a possible sale, you could end up getting the older model. Apple has a support document which details the differences between the two adapters.

If you do not want to spend so much money on an adapter, you can always resort to any model of Amazon that meets what you are looking for, with models that start from € 10 onwards.


If you still have a monitor at home with this type of DVI connector, you will need a USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) to DVI cable to use it. You will find infinity of Models with different lengths according to your needs.


Another of the video connectors with more tradition is the VGA. Although Apple has its USB-C to VGA multiport adapter, you will find in Amazon a wide offer. Make sure you choose the male or female connectors depending on the layout of your monitor.

How to connect to Ethernet

You will probably use a Wi-Fi wireless connection most of the time to connect to your home network, but using a wired Ethernet connection has its advantages in times of telecommuting when there are countless devices connected to your network.

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To connect to an ethernet network, you need an adapter such as the adapter Belkin USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet, which is available on Amazon for € 29.99. Pay attention as many hubs include this serial port.

How to connect SD cards

If you happen to be using a DLSR camera or another type of standalone camera, you may have a way to transfer your files wirelessly. Otherwise, you will need an adapter to access the SD card.

MicroSD card reader

The dual-slot USB C card reader Ugreen It will cost you just over € 12.

How to connect FireWire devices

If you have a FireWire to USB-A cable, you can try using the USB-C to USB adapter from Apple.

If you have a device with a 4-pin 1394 FireWire connector (commonly used in video cameras), you will need to use a USB-A to FireWire 1394 cable 4-pin ($ 6.99 at Amazon) with the Apple USB-C to USB adapter.

Thunderbolt to FireWire cable

Trying to connect FireWire 400 and 800 devices gets more complicated. Apple has a adapter Thunderbolt to FireWire for € 55, but it also has a connector Older, cheaper Thunderbolt that doesn’t support the latest specs.

How to connect a printer with USB-B

Today, most printers offer wireless connectivity, so you don’t need a cable. But maybe you have an older printer or you find that wireless printing is not entirely reliable.

USB printer cables

Most consumer printers have a USB-B port. It is a square connector, very different from USB-A or USB-C. To use it, you will need a cable such as the USB C printer cable from Posuge 3 meters long for less than € 10.

If you already have an adapter USB-C to USB, you can use the USB-A to USB-B cable that came with your printer and connect it to the adapter. From here, you can connect it to your laptop as a bridge.

How to add a MagSafe power connector to your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro

The power adapter that comes with the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air does not have a detachable MagSafe connector. MagSafe was a lifesaver for laptops in the past when someone tripped over the power cord to prevent falls.

But you can still add a MagSafe connector. It is possible to use magnetic connectors such as Cafele with transfer magnet and 2 meters in length. It is a power-only cable that has an adapter that acts as a MagSafe connector.

Don’t miss our ranking of the best USB-C hubs for Mac, where you will find infinite possibilities gathered in the same device, with which you will be investing in the purchase of a very versatile product.

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