USB-C and Thunderbolt: Understanding Ports and Cables for Macs and iPads

The ports that you use to connect keyboards, mice, and hard drives to your Macs have changed over the years. Current Macs have USB-C, which provide standard USB speeds, along with faster Thunderbolt to compatible peripherals. But what’s the difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt ports, and how can you tell them apart? And which cables do you need to get the most out of them?

In this article, I’m going to explain what Thunderbolt and USB-C ports are, how to identify them, how they work, which features they offer, and how to choose the right cables for your needs.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

1 thought on “USB-C and Thunderbolt: Understanding Ports and Cables for Macs and iPads

  1. Really useful guide Kirk, thanks.

    Apple advertise this on the Apple ID page as:
    “One account for everything Apple – 
A single Apple ID and password gives you access to all Apple services.”

    But unfortunately this is except for the (likely millions of) users of longterm accounts stuck with having to use two Apple IDs, seemingly forever, because of the MobileMe mess that’s never been resolved. E.g:

    – original Apple ID:
    – contact email:

    – MobileMe Apple ID:
    – contact email:

    The MM A-ID was automatically created when we signed up for MM, but Apple refused to allow it to take-over our original A-ID’s purchase histories, to make the MM one our ‘One account for everything Apple’ Apple ID for everything. So the only solution at the time was to change the original’s Contact Email to your email address, but the underlying issue of having two accounts remains.

    As such, then you’re stuck with using the original A-ID for purchases and the MobileMe (now iCloud, of course) A-ID for iCloud functionalities (sync, mail, contacts, iCloud Drive, etc.).

    Rather a pain for these users, ongoing for years, unfortunately with no fix.

    It also creates an ongoing issue… as it also means that the iOS/iPadOS Apple Store app (the one for hardware purchases not software purchases) only allows your iCloud Apple ID to be used.

    Longterm users who use their original (non-iCloud) Apple ID to make all hardware purchases simply cannot use the app anymore, as the separate login inside the app has been removed a couple of years ago. Now it automatically logs you in using the iCloud A-ID you use at the top of the Settings app, with no other option given. Meaning those users cannot use it, having instead to use the Apple website to buy anything when using iOS/iPadOS.

What do you think?

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