Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding computer ports, part of Computer Literacy for Mac (2015).
- 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, even microphones. The list goes on and on. In this chapter we're gonna look at how to set up and install common peripherals, but first in this movie I wanna make sure you're familiar with the available ports on a Mac into which you'll be plugging your devices. The most common port in use for peripherals right now is USB. All Macs and PCs have USB ports.
As you can see, they're a flat, rectangular port with what looks like a small plastic tab inside. Of course, you plug USB cables into your USB ports. This is what the ends of a USB cable looks like, and this is the shape of the end that goes into your computer. This is known as an "A-type" USB connector, but it's most commonly referred to as just a USB connector. The other end of the cable you plug into might go directly into whatever device you're plugging in, like a mouse or a keyboard, or it may look like this. This is called a "B-type" USB connector.
You most commonly see this type of connector in printers, scanners, and other larger peripheral USB devices. Other types of USB connectors you'll run across include the micro USB connector and the mini USB connector, both of which are often used in smaller devices. And if you have an iOS device like iPhone or iPad, you're probably familiar with Apple's lightning cable, which looks like this. But as long as the device or cable you're plugging into your Mac goes into your USB port it's considered a USB device. Another port you'll find on current Macs these days is called the Thunderbolt port, and it looks like this.
This is a high-speed port, meaning it can handle a large amount of data over a very short amount of time, making it ideal for connecting peripherals like external hard drives and external displays or monitors. Thunderbolt is still a relatively new type of connector, much younger than USB, but more and more peripherals are coming out all the time that are Thunderbolt compatible. They generally cost more than USB peripherals, but if you're looking for high performance, Thunderbolt devices are the way to go. Another important port you'll find on your Mac is an Ethernet port. This is a port that lets you connect to your network or internet service.
The cable thatt plugs into the Ethernet port looks like this on both of its ends. 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 the internet, but for now that's how you set up the physical connection. If you have a newer MacBook computer, you don't have a built-in Ethernet port, and you'll most likely need to get online over a WiFi connection. However, if you need to plug your MacBook into a wired connection, you can get adapters that let you plug an Ethernet cable into your Thunderbolt or USB ports on your MacBook. Other ports you'll probably be using are the audio input and output jacks.
The audio output jack is denoted by a speaker or headphone icon. 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're playing. The input jack looks like two triangles pointing inwards towards each other. Of the current line of Macs, only the Mac mini has a separate audio input jack. If you're recording audio, one option for doing so is sending audio into the input jack, but other options include recording audio through your Mac's built-in microphone or by plugging your iPhone earbud headset into the headphone jack so you can use its built-in microphone.
Or you can get any number of other audio input devices that plug into your USB port. So there are many ways to get sounds into your Mac. That's a rundown of the most important ports you'll need to be familiar with in order to plug in and use peripherals with your Mac.
Note: This course was recorded on Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite. To upgrade to Yosemite before you begin, watch "Installing and running Mac OS X 10.10 for the first time."
- Working with a laptop versus a desktop computer
- Understanding the five traits almost all applications share in Mac OS X
- Printing on a Mac computer
- Setting up a scanner
- Connecting to the Internet
- Sending and receiving email
- Searching the Internet
- Importing and editing images from a digital camera
- Sharing files