Just got a MacBook Pro 2018, and already have one or two USB-C adapters and hubs, as well as a backup power supply for when I travel (in other words, I’ve been to Dongletown). What other accessories to do you find useful for a MacBook with USB-C connectors?
The important ones:
Don’t get the Apple HDMI connector, it’s famously plagued with issues. Get a dedicated HDMI adapter.
I got an HDMI to USB-C cable for my fixed screen. Works like a charm and one dongle less. I also got USB-C cables for my external HDDs, in addition to the USB-C to lightening cable. Buying the cables is cheaper and more efficient than buying multiple USB-A adapters
VGA dongle for when you need to hook up to a projector or an older screen
and of course you will need at least one USB-A adapter.
Usually the accessories that you need for a certain task turn out to be the most useful.
What’s a fixed screen? You mean like a TV?
I meant external non-portable monitor (32”), I was emphasizing that I don’t intend to use the screen in any mobile way but I guess I did not express myself clearly
Hmmmm… HDMI-to-USB-C, eh?
Wonder if that would work with my Apple Cinema Display (which is currently gathering dust as the World’s Heaviest and Most Inconvenient USB Hub).
I think I found an even better solution for my trusty old Apple Cinema Display – a MiniDisplay Port to USB-C adapter. I splurged on the $6 extra for same-day Amazon delivery.
I have quite a few dongles; I went to dongle heaven (or the other place) when I bought the original MacBook 12”, and have added more when I upgraded to the MBP.
Many I have not found useful, others I use all the time. Here are my thoughts:
— I have both the Apple USB-C to HDMI and VGA adapters. I have not had any issues with either, and use both when I give talks depending on the connections available at the venue. Both worth having for me for my use case of giving talks via KeyNote.
— I bought several of the available USB hubs that hang off the side of the laptop. I use none of them. Firstly, they just aren’t that useful to me when on the road as I rarely if ever have to plug is so many different things at once when I am in Starbucks. Secondly, I am worried they put a lot of stress on the USB connector, so I am not thrilled with them.
— On the other hand, I have an OWC USB-C external dock and a Pluggable Thunderbolt 3 external dock. The USB-C one I bought when I had the MacBook 12”, and that one sits on my desk at work and connects my wired Ethernet connection, ScanSnap, label printer, and provides charging power. I have set up at Keyboard Maestro USB trigger that picks up the Ethernet connection and disables WiFi, and restarts WiFi when I disconnect. The TB3 dock at home gives access to my ScanSnap, external USB drive for a boot clone via CCC, my Wacom tablet, Dell 24” 4K monitor (the “Katie Floyd model”) and wired Ethernet. I have not been able to get KM to reliably detected Ethernet via the TB dock. This setup at both locations is extremely useful and recommended if you have a location such as work or office where these peripherals would be convenient to access with a one cable hookup.
— I have several USB-C to USB-A adaptors, some that are small USB-drive sized and some with a 3” cable. I use these a lot to hook up a USB drive or DVD burner or whatever when NOT docked at home or office. They are small enough to make worthwhile to have in my cable bag at all times. I had the Apple one, lost it, and bought some third-party ones that work fine.
— I bought a “MagSafe” type of power connector from a KickStarter that arrived at long last a few weeks ago. One side plugs into the USB-C port, the other to the USB-C charging cable, and the two pieces make a magnetic connection to mimic the old MagSafe connector. The jury is still out on this one for me. I tried it once, saw some really flakey behavior when I was trying to work on the laptop, didn’t have the time at that moment to play with it, and haven’t tested it since.
Obviously, YMMV depending on your uses cases, but this is what I have found to be most useful.
Unrelated, I also bought the TB3->TB2 adaptor “in case” I needed to hook up my TB-2 Drobo to the laptop. I wound up getting a MacMini and a second Drobo that is the TB3 version, and since this connector is bidirectional, it is used to connect the TB3 Drobo to the TB2 ports on the MacMini. I mention this only because I think most people do not know this adapter is bidirectional and can be used in this manner, not just to connect a TB2 device to a TB3 port.
Regarding the MagSafe adapter: I can’t think of a single time it worked as designed. In the three years I have used it, I can’t think of a single time when it prevented someone from tripping over the power cord.
OTOH, I’ve accidentally knocked loose the MagSafe adapter many times, and often did not notice I’d done so until I saw my battery was significantly depleted at a time when I needed maximum battery charge.
I am not a big MagSafe fan.
But more importantly: Thank you for the recommendations.
If it were me (not there yet, still rocking my 2015 MBP), I’d just get a dock.
Plug in one cable and you’re good to go. Beats connecting 3 or 4, and probably costs about the same.
If you travel, throw it in your bag, or have a second.
Yeah, I expect a dock might be where I end up going with this. Seems like MBP/USB-C users seem to end up with a drawerful of dongles and adapters and docks until they hit on solution they like.
Yeah, that will probably be the case with my wife, who just purchased a new 2018 MacBook Pro 13 inch. W/ touchbar. She’s in the dongle/experimental use stage right now, since it’s also new to her.
It’s save my laptop more than once. No, it doesn’t prevent people (including me) from tripping over the power cord, but it DOES prevent that action from rocketing the laptop off the desk/table and onto the floor.
I have, so,far, dropped my MBP once when I got up quickly and forgot I was plugged in. MagSafe would have saved me there. Obviously, YMMV.
A dock is great when you are at your desk, but I find the dongles I described in my post necessary when not at my home or office desks. Again, depends on your specific uses.
I know everyone thinks that USB-C/TB3 has created this issue, but I still carried HDMI cables, HDMI to VGA adapters, etc with my prior MBP. I just have a different set now.
With my 2016 MBP, I use an Apple to VGA adaptor that has Power Delivery (PD) and connects to my USB-A Hub. In addition, I use an Anker USB-C to HDMI adaptor for my external monitor. In general, I prefer having dedicated cables over adaptors.
ATP’s Marco Arment was cautiously optimistic about this hub that has power delivery and HDMI, Ethernet and 2 times USB-A* in their last episode. I’d love to go to a one cable/hub solution, but the steep price (95€ in Germany) means that I probably won’t get one of those to try out.
Anker has released this 7 in 1 hub, which does not have an Ethernet port but SD, USB-A, and HDMI. As I don’t use ethernet, this might be the one for me to get. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071JV4NPS/ Then I just need another power brick for travel…
Any updates on this? Thinking of getting a hub
I’m still one-foot in conventional USB and one foot in USB-C and hating it.
I have a Lynq USB-C hub at my desk. It hangs off the side of the MacBook Pro, and I’ve got a few standard USB cables plugged into it. It works fine. Does the job.
Soon after I got the MBP, I bought two of these adapters for my briefcase to connect all my existing USB-A cables to my MBP.
Then I got smart. I realized I shouldn’t attach an adapter to each cable when I can just get a hub. So I got this for my briefcase:
And now when I’m sitting down with my laptop in a hotel room or anywhere other than my office, if I need to plug in a standard USB cable, I just plug it into the dock.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I may get another for my desktop and replace the Lynq. Or just get proper USB C cables and a USB-C hub. I need to think this through.
I’ve got the MBP power supply plugged directly into a USB-C port on the MBP. The hub proved unreliable for that.
I’m still using the adapter; currently have a Blue Yeti mike plugged in with it.
I’ve retired the Apple Cinema display so I don’t need to worry about plugging it into the MBP. At some point I’ll get a 4K or 5K external display for the MBP but honestly I’m in no rush. I seem to be able to work fine on the built-in display with the MBP elevated on my desk and an external keyboard and trackpad.
I should maybe think about getting a few more USB-C cables and reducing the number of adapters I use but it makes my head hurt.