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Even though you can accomplish many common tasks with your Mac with just what comes in the box - meaning the computer itself, the keyboard, and the mouse - you'll most likely need to attach and use peripheral devices such as printers, scanners, digital cameras, projectors - the lists goes on and on. So in this chapter, we are going to look at how to set up and install common peripherals, but first in this movie, I want to make sure you are familiar with the available ports on Macs in to which you will be plugging your devices. The most common port in use for peripherals right now is USB. All Macs and PCs have USB ports, and you can see they are a flat rectangular port with what looks likes a small plastic tab inside.
Of course, you plug USB cables into USB ports. This is what a USB cable looks like, and the part circled there is the part that goes into the USB port. Now the other end of the cable, you plug into your USB port might go directly into whatever device you are plugging in, like a mouse or a keyboard, or may look like this, or this, or this. But as long as the device or cable you are plugging into your Mac goes into your USB port, it's considered a USB device. Another port you will find on most Macs is called a FireWire port, and it looks like this.
Now there are actually two kinds of FireWire ports: FireWire 400 and FireWire 800. FireWire 800, which we have circled here, is the rectangular one. FireWire 400, this one, is the older and slower port that's been discontinued on Macs, while you will find FireWire 800 ports on most new Macs. Generally, FireWire is used for connecting external hard drives. Many people prefer external drives that connect over FireWire 800, because you can transfer data between your computer and the drive faster than you can with the USB device. Another important port you will find on your Mac is the Ethernet port.
This is the port that lets you connect to your network, or Internet service. It looks kind of like a wide telephone jack. The cable that plugs into the Ethernet port looks like this. One end goes into your Mac, and the other end goes into your router or modem. In an upcoming chapter, we'll talk about how to set up your Mac to connect to your network or to the Internet, but for now that's how you set up the physical connection. You just plug your Ethernet cable into your Ethernet port, and on the other end, which looks like identical to this, into your router or modem. Other ports you will probably be using are the audio and input jacks. The audio output jack is denoted by a speaker icon, and the input jack looks like two triangles pointing inward towards each other.
You can plug speakers into the output jack so you can hear any sounds your Mac is making through them, including alert sounds or music you are playing. And if you are recording audio, one option for doing so is sending audio into the input jack. Lastly, all current Macs have monitor connectors for connecting external monitors to your computer. Macs like the Mac Pro and the Mac Mini have to have monitors plugged into them so you can see what you are doing, and they connect through ports called the DVI ports. We are seeing an example here of two DVI ports on a Mac Pro. Now the iMac in Apple's notebook computers all have built-in monitors, but they also include monitor connectors, in case you would like to add a second larger monitor to your setup.
In those cases, you connect through a mini DVI port that looks like this. So that's a rundown of the most important ports you'll need to be familiar with to plug in and use peripherals with your Mac.
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