Why Do MacBooks Not Have USB Type A Ports?

If you’ve had to use a flash drive with your relatively recent Macbook, you may have noticed something frustrating: there is no regular USB-A port anywhere on the device. Considering regular USB devices are still pretty common, you may be puzzled as to why these expensive Macbooks don’t offer a way of connecting to them.

Macbooks no longer have normal USB ports because they have a slower and worse performance than USB-C, a more recent alternative. Moreover, regular USB ports require thicker and heavier laptops, which is not ideal for Macbook manufacturers who want portable and sleek devices.

Why They’re A Thing Of The Past

Most people buy Macbooks because they appreciate how these devices operate and their user-friendly interface, but also because they look sleek and weigh less than most other laptops.

However, the fact that Macbooks don’t include a regular USB port may be a problem for some users. Many peripheral devices still use regular USB ports, or USB-A, as they are known otherwise.

If you have one of these devices or just a regular flash drive, you can’t connect it to your Macbook, so you must find a way around it. Ditching the standard USB ports may seem like an unwise omission for Apple, but there are some legitimate reasons behind this decision.

1. Removing Regular USB Ports Lowers the Overall Weight

The main selling point of any laptop is portability. The easier it is to keep your laptop in your bag and take it wherever you are, the better. As a result, laptop and Macbook manufacturers are constantly thinking about making these devices lighter and thinner so that you can place them anywhere and have no problem carrying them around.

A regular USB port requires a certain thickness on a device. The size of a standard USB-A port is 0.6 x 0.8 inches (15 x 21 millimeters); this size is pretty significant for electronic devices and laptops in particular. Moreover, it adds to the device’s overall weight noticeably, especially for laptops, which are designed to be carried around.

Removing the regular USB port allows Macbook manufacturers to design a slim, light laptop that is easy to handle and carry wherever you are. Additionally, the absence of a larger port means the laptop will be thinner, so it will fit more easily in your bag and look sleek and aesthetically pleasing.

2. Regular USB Ports Cannot Handle Multiple Devices Well

USB ports can be used for different purposes, but connecting peripheral devices to computers or laptops is one of their primary functions. Peripheral devices include headphones, speakers, mice, printers, scanners, and more. 

Understandably, the ability of a USB port to handle multiple peripherals is incredibly important when considering the components of a laptop. Naturally, this would require every device to be connected to a USB hub first, and then the hub would be connected to a single port.

A regular USB port may have difficulties performing well in the above case. Although technically it’s only connected to the hub, it would have issues functioning properly, which could cause certain peripherals to stop working or work slowly.

3. Regular USB Ports Are Slower

Regular USB ports were first developed in the 1990s. Even though their current versions have improved, they still have limitations in terms of performance. Whatever you want to do using a USB-A port, you can do faster using a USB-C port, which is what current Macbooks have.

In other words, USB-A ports are slow; their performance is quite limited regarding data transferring and charging. Even though they are still used in many devices, it’s evident that regular USB ports are on their way out. Nowadays, there are better technologies that can achieve much more efficiently.

As you can see, there were other reasons for ditching regular USB ports beyond portability and aesthetics. There is no room for an old USB port with limited speed and capacity in the new Macbooks, especially when other options are available.

What Ports Can You Use With the Latest MacBooks?

Macbook manufacturers have done away with regular USB ports, but it doesn’t mean these devices have no USBs. As mentioned above, Macbooks have USB-C, advanced versions of regular USB ports. In many ways, USB-C is more suitable for portable devices than USB-A.

Advantages of USB-C Ports

First, USB-C ports are much smaller than their predecessors, so they don’t require a thick and larger device. As a result, they can be part of a slim and light Macbook that is easy to carry around without feeling the weight on your shoulders. Secondly, USB-C ports allow for faster and better overall performance than USB-A ports.

USB-C was developed almost 20 years after the original USB ports, so it makes sense that its technology is more advanced, creating the opportunity for faster data transfers and charging. Nowadays, the USB-C ports that Macbooks have can handle several different peripherals much better than USB-A.

They can perform very well even if you connect multiple devices to a single port, so you won’t have to worry about any devices not working properly. A relatively minor advantage is the fact that with USB-C ports, there is no right or wrong way of inserting a cable.

Old USB-A ports have only one correct way of functioning, so if you insert the cable the other way, it would not be able to work; this used to be an issue before. However, USB-Cs save you time and frustration since you won’t have to worry about plugging the cable correctly or incorrectly.

Most devices produced nowadays use USB-C as their primary ports because they have many more advantages than regular USB ports. It is understandable that Macbooks also use these ports, especially considering how useful USB-C is for portability.

How To Connect to a USB-A Cable or Device to Your MacBook

Even though USB-C seems to be the future, many devices only use USB-A. Many desktop computers still come with standard USB ports and a couple of additional USB-C. People still use regular flash drives and different peripherals like keyboards, printers, speakers, and others, which use a USB-A cable to connect to the main device.

Even though USB-C is superior in many ways to the regular USB, it needs time to be phased in. Many existing devices are made to be compatible with USB-A as the standard. You, too, might have a USB-A device that you want to connect to your Macbook and are struggling to find a way.

Thankfully, a few different methods of connecting a regular USB device to a Macbook exist.

Using a USB-C Adapter

The most straightforward solution is to use an adapter. Adapters allow you to plug different devices into one port, no matter what kind of cable they have. There are all kinds of adapters, but the one you need for a Macbook is a  USB-C adapter.

USB-C adapters allow you to connect any device to your Macbook. These adapters can have different types of ports, including USB-A, SD, HDMI, and more, depending on your device.

Once you buy the USB-C adapter, you can connect your device to your Macbook in a few simple steps:

  1. Identify the USB-A port on the adapter, ensuring you have the correct one for your chosen device.
  2. Connect the USB-C end of the adapter to the Macbook using the corresponding port.
  3. Connect the desired device to the other end of the adapter.

To verify that the device is connected:

  1. Press and hold Options on the left side of your keyboard.
  2. Go to Apple Menu.
  3. Select System Information.
  4. You should be able to see the device on the window that appears.

If the device does not appear anywhere and you cannot access it using your Macbook, it’s possible that the connection has not been made yet. Unplug and plug the device from the adapter, and then repeat the same process with the adapter and the Macbook. 

If it still does not work, the adapter or the device itself might not be able to work. Test the device on a computer or laptop with USB-A ports if you can. If the device works, the adapter is faulty and should be replaced.

While this method works well with all kinds of devices, finding peripherals with USB-C ports is better to avoid a “middleman”. The fewer devices are involved, the fewer issues there will be.

Using a USB-C Hub

A USB-C hub is a step up from the adapter. While an adapter provides only one port type in one device, a hub allows you to connect multiple peripherals to the same USB-C port simultaneously.

You can use a hub on the go since it doesn’t require a separate power source. It’s automatically powered once connected to your Macbook.

To use the USB-C hub, follow these instructions:

  1. Connect the USB-C hub to your Macbook using the USB-C port; make sure the hub is powered on.
  2. Connect the different devices to the hub using the appropriate ports.
  3. Check if the connection has been made.

For some devices, like a mouse or speakers, you may be able to tell immediately if the connection has been made. If you overlook the new devices connected to your Macbook instantly, you can try and see them in System Information, following the steps described above. 

If your peripheral devices aren’t showing signs of being connected to your Macbook and you can’t see them in System Information, there might be an issue with one of the connections.

Take the troubleshooting steps described above to check for problems and to identify the culprit.

Using a USB-C Dock

Another alternative is using a USB-C adapter or a hub to connect a USB-A device to your Macbook. This alternative method is especially useful if you don’t move your Macbook much or have several different peripherals and multiple monitors you want to connect.

In these cases, I recommend you use a USB-C docking station. Using docks requires your Mac to be stationary because they involve a whole setup, including a power source.

A USB-C docking station allows you to plug in several devices and peripherals, including Ethernet. It’s advantageous if you want to connect your Macbook to other monitors.

To use the USB-C docking station, you only need to follow these steps:

  1. Connect the docking station to a power outlet using the designated cable.
  2. Switch the docking station on.
  3. Identify the port you want to use; in this case, it will be a USB-A port.
  4. Connect the device to the USB-A port.
  5. Connect the docking station to the USB-C port.

As always, see if the devices are correctly connected by checking if the peripherals work or by checking System Information. If the devices don’t show any signs of working, troubleshoot by plugging and unplugging, as shown above.