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  1. #16

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    @Ratsima, your sarcasm is noted. Not appreciated, but noted.

    As for your question, the answer is pretty simple. At Apple.com they describe the iMac and even have a picture to help. Here is part of that image:

    Screen Shot 2019-12-07 at 9.28.37 AM.png

    Note the clever little line pointing to those two slots you mentioned showing that they are Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports. You didn't say what the other end of the cable you want is going to be plugged into, but it could be any of the list in your previous post, as long as you have the appropriate adapter that may be required. So, based on what Apple has so thoughtfully provided, the other end of the USB-C cable could be any of the following protocols and standards:

    • DisplayPort
    • Thunderbolt (up to 40 Gbps)
    • USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbps)
    • Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA supported using adapters (sold separately)



    So, if the other end of the cable is a monitor with a display port, your sentence would be:

    Find a USB-C to Display Port cable and plug it in to the two devices.

    For a Thunderbolt monitor, it would be:

    Find a USB-C to Thunderbolt cable and plug it in to the two devices.

    For a USB 3.1 device:

    Find a USB-C to USB 3.1 cable and plug it in to the two devices.

    They even warned that for other protocols (Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI, and VGA) you need an adapter.

    I'm not sure how Apple could have made it any more clear.
    Jake

  2. #17

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    Let me jump into this conversation just for fun.
    and pretend I'm the "artsy" guy, no clue how to screw in a light bulb.

    1. I have a number of older flash drives, some USB 2.0, also a USB mouse (probably USB 1.0) I need to plug in since the USB ports on my keyboard are toast.
    There is no USB 2.0 port on my Mac (at least nothing labelled that way)...no what?
    I read somewhere that I can plug a USB 2.0 device into a USB 3.0 slot and it should work - what about USB 1.0

    2. I read somewhere that USB-C can also provide power, is that for these combination Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports as well?

    (this is a better question for a MacBook rather than the image above, but still valid)

    I can relate to Ratsima's confusion/concern - especially when one then runs into the issue where the adapter cables themselves have limitations.
    Like "You want to drive a 4K monitor properly and see the image in full "4K" - sorry but the Thunderbolt 3 cable you have only supports a resolution of 1920x1200

  3. #18

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    @krs, you started with a really simple problem and then ended with a highly technical one. The iMac in question has four USB 3 ports right next to the USB-C ports. Use them. They are backward compatible all the way to USB-1. So just plug in your old drive, mouse, whatever. Done.

    As for power, yes, USB-C provides power. Cables that comply with USB-C standards have chips in them that negotiate power in accordance with the USB-C standards. Non compliant cables are generally restricted to USB 2 standards because they lack the chips and the port will deny power because of the lack of negotiation. Of course, like everything else in this world, counterfeit cables can muck with anything. Bottom line: buy quality cables from a trusted source. But it's been that way since I first got introduced to computing on IBM 700 series in the 1960's. Quality pays off in the long run.

    As for the video cable, that is a much more complex issue that a reasonable person would admit needs thorough investigation. Given the flexibility of the ports on the iMac, the complexity of the monitor market (not all of them follow standards thoroughly), and the rapidly changing resolutions of monitors, unless the user is thick as a post, it's pretty apparent that some research is needed. Fortunately, the user guides (you do read them, right?) usually describe exactly what is needed to connect the monitor.
    Jake

  4. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacInWin View Post
    @krs, you started with a really simple problem and then ended with a highly technical one. The iMac in question has four USB 3 ports right next to the USB-C ports. Use them. They are backward compatible all the way to USB-1. So just plug in your old drive, mouse, whatever. Done.
    The point I was trying to make was - How would a non-technical person know that.
    The designation in the image just says "USB 3" - to me that means USB 3.0 and USB 3.1, not necessarily USB 2.0 and USB 1 as well.
    What makes things worse is that there are some USB 3.0 Flash drives that work in USB 2.0 ports and other USB 3.0 drives that only work in USB 3.0 ports.
    They all plug in, but they don't necessarily work.

    As for power, yes, USB-C provides power. Cables that comply with USB-C standards have chips in them that negotiate power in accordance with the USB-C standards. Non compliant cables are generally restricted to USB 2 standards because they lack the chips and the port will deny power because of the lack of negotiation.
    Non-compliant cables are a whole other can of worms - I don't want to even bring those into the conversation.
    But if I remember right, there are also USB-C cables and ports (?) that are designed to only deliver power, no high speed date

    Fortunately, the user guides (you do read them, right?) usually describe exactly what is needed to connect the monitor.
    Assuming one kept it and can still find it.
    Or the manufacturer had the foresight to offer a pdf version on line.

    If things were that straight forward, there wouldn't be half the connectivity questions in this forum.

  5. #20

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    The point I was trying to make was - How would a non-technical person know that.
    Ten second search on Internet:

    USB: Everything You Need to Know
    Jake

  6. #21

    krs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacInWin View Post
    Ten second search on Internet:

    USB: Everything You Need to Know
    Ha, ha, ha.....
    Now we are going around in circles.

    That's what started the last part of this discussion in post 13:
    I see that as part of the problem. Why should you have to do research to understand what's going on?
    ...having to go to the internet....

    As to the link you posted - have you read the main article there?
    That has to be the most confusing article I have read in a very long time.
    Paragraph on paragraph describing what he various USB types, ports and connectors look like.
    What happened to just posting an image.

    And USB port and USB cable compatibility?
    Rather obvious what plugs into what..and what doesn't by just looking at it - who needs a table for something that basic.
    What doesn't seem to be covered (maybe I didn't find it yet) are some of the more subtle incompatibilities, like a USB 3.0 flash drive not working at all if plugged into a USB 2.0 port -fits perfectly mechanically but does not work at all at any speed.

  7. #22

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    What doesn't seem to be covered (maybe I didn't find it yet) are some of the more subtle incompatibilities, like a USB 3.0 flash drive not working at all if plugged into a USB 2.0 port -fits perfectly mechanically but does not work at all at any speed.
    Why would you even think that could work? That is a bit like putting diesel into a gasoline engine fuel tank and then expecting it to work. "Hey, the nozzle fit so...."
    Jake

  8. #23

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    One last post and I'm done with this. Technology is complicated. I get that. But complaining that technology is complicated, why can't it be simple is like complaining that I cannot cook like a Michelin 3-star chef. I put the ingredients in a bowl, mixed them and it didn't look at all like the picture. What do you mean, I was supposed to mix those first, then put in that, bake it and THEN frost it. I just shoved it all in a bowl, mixed it all together and poured it in a pan. I turned on the oven, didn't matter what temperature, then put the whole mess in and waited. Next thing I know I have smoke everywhere and it doesn't look at all like the pictures. Why can't it be simple to make a three-layer cake!!! I don't want to read some stupid recipe, and I certainly don't want to have to go look it up. I just want the cake.

    Did you follow any of the links in the article at all? They led to more discussion of the various standards and cables. You can't make a technology "cake" without reading the recipe.
    Jake

  9. #24

    krs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacInWin View Post
    Why would you even think that could work? That is a bit like putting diesel into a gasoline engine fuel tank and then expecting it to work. "Hey, the nozzle fit so...."
    Poor analogy - the nozzle of a diesel pump actually doesn't fit in the fuel tank opening of a gas engine - at least in Canada.
    I know that because I wasn't paying attention and tried to use diesel in a gas engine car - except I couldn't; would have been an expensive repair.

    As to USB 3.0 Flash drives, there are many that work just fine in a USB 2.0 port.
    I could ask you the same question - why would you think that should not work?

    I can plug a USB 1.1 mouse into a USB 2.0 port and it works just fine
    Same idea if I plug a USB 2.0 device into a USB 3.0 port - it should work as well - but some do and some don't

  10. #25

    krs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacInWin View Post
    Did you follow any of the links in the article at all? They led to more discussion of the various standards and cables. You can't make a technology "cake" without reading the recipe.
    I did, but they are not any better.
    First link I looked at from the main article was about the comment in the main article that smart phones use the micro USB port for power.
    Click on the link - it talks all about smart phones and wht they are called smart phones and how they get close to a computer with capabilities, but not a word about the micro USB port on the smart phone and its use.
    Just confirms my impression of that article - and the links I checked - pretty terrible.
    The editor didn't do his/her job - or maybe there was no editor.

  11. #26

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    Poor analogy - the nozzle of a diesel pump actually doesn't fit in the fuel tank opening of a gas engine - at least in Canada.
    But the other way works--gasoline in a diesel tank. Been done before, with interesting results.

    I've never used a USB 3 flash drive in a USB 2 port that I can recall. I'm surprised you got one to work. The timing signals between he two standards are really different. I guess some USB 3 drive manufacturers are using chips that can be throttled back. You can use slower devices in faster ports, as you say. Every USB 2 drive I have used in a USB 3 port has worked, but that's because they are supposed to be backward compatible. Ditto for mouse/other devices. Slower can be plugged into faster, but not the other way, at least not reliably.
    Jake

  12. #27

    krs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacInWin View Post
    I've never used a USB 3 flash drive in a USB 2 port that I can recall. I'm surprised you got one to work. The timing signals between he two standards are really different. I guess some USB 3 drive manufacturers are using chips that can be throttled back. You can use slower devices in faster ports, as you say. Every USB 2 drive I have used in a USB 3 port has worked, but that's because they are supposed to be backward compatible. Ditto for mouse/other devices. Slower can be plugged into faster, but not the other way, at least not reliably.
    It must depend on the chip set that is used.
    I have a number of older Macs with only USB 2.0 ports and I would be upset if my USB 3.0 Flash drive wasn't recognized when plugged into a USB 2.0 port.
    So now I read the print on the package to see what it says and I look for drives like this one:
    https://www.123ink.ca/en/p-322259-dt..._BwE#sku362142

  13. #28

    MacInWin's Avatar
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    Yeah, that packaging says its backward compatible. Not all (or even many) are, I bet.
    Jake

  14. #29


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    Jake, you've done a great job of making my point.

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