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USB (Universal Serial Bus) is an industry standard for connecting computers and other devices. It's available with many types of ports, and each type has a unique shape. On Mac computers, USB is available with these ports, depending on your Mac model:
Type USB-A ports are commonly called USB, USB 2, or USB 3 ports, depending on the USB specification they support. They aren't reversible, so a USB-A connector plugs into the port only when oriented correctly.
Type USB-C ports are available as either standard USB-C ports or Thunderbolt 3 ports that also support USB-C connections. They both look the same, and the connector plugs into the port in either orientation.
Learn more about identifying the ports on your Mac, as well as the adapters and cables you can use to connect older devices to type USB-C ports.
USB specifications are important primarily when you want the most speed and power for your USB device, or your device needs more power or is using too much power. Every USB port supports a particular USB specification, which determines the port's maximum>USB specifications on MacData transferPowerUSB 3.1 Gen 2
Also known as USB 3.2 Gen 2
Up to 10 GbpsUp to 15W at 5VUSB 3.1 Gen 1
Also known as USB 3.2 Gen 1 or USB 3
Up to 5 GbpsUp to 900 mA at 5VUSB 2.0
Up to 480 MbpsUp to 500 mA at 5VUSB 1.1
Up to 12 MbpsUp to 500 mA at 5V
To learn which specification is supported by a type USB-A or type USB-C port on your Mac model:
USB specifications all work with each other, but speed and power are limited by the cable or device that uses the earliest specification. For example, if you connect a USB 3 device to USB 2 port, your device is limited to USB 2 speeds, and it can't draw more power from the port than can be delivered over USB 2. In other words, to get the best performance, make sure that the USB port on your Mac and the USB cable to your device meet or exceed the USB specification of the device itself.
If your Mac doesn't recognize a USB device after you plug it into your Mac: