One of the necessary steps in getting set up for a tethered workflow is to determine which USB ports you have on your computer. We recommend checking your computer model with the manufacturer for specific details about your equipment. If you have a PC, I expect you’ll have either only USB-C or a combination of USB-A and USB-C ports. And If you have a Mac, depending on which year it was manufactured, you may have USB-A, USB-C and Thunderbolt ports.
USB-A 3.0 ports can accept USB 2.0 and 3.0 cables, but we do not recommend using USB-A 3.0 cables in USB-A 2.0 ports as you may not have the desired experience. On a Mac, if you have Thunderbolt 3 ports, you can use both Thunderbolt and USB-C cables, but if you only have USB-C ports, you can only use USB-C cables, not Thunderbolt 3 cables. And if you have the older Thunderbolt 2 port, this will only accept Thunderbolt 2 cables. Confused yet? Don’t be.
To get the correct cables, you really only need to learn what ports your computer and camera have.
And always use our Search by Camera guide on our website to find the correct cables.
The quickest way to learn what ports your computer features is by physically examining your computer.
For Mac users, Apple provides this handy webpage to help you identify the ports on your Mac. If you have a PC, check these articles, PC Ports explained here and USB-C explained.
USB-A ports are either speeds of 2.0 or 3.0 and speeds over 3.0 such as 3.1 or 3.2 is called USB-C.
USB-C ports are oval in shape and USB-C cables can fit in either way; there isn’t a “right side up” like there is with USB 2.0 and 3.0 cables. USB-A ports are rectangular and USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 cables have a “right side up” – cables only fit in one way.
Ports shown on a PC below. Blue inside the port indicates these ports are USB 3.0. USB 2.0 ports have white plastic.
Thunderbolt 3 ports identified on a Mac can accept Thunderbolt 3 cables and USB-C.
Whereas USB-C ports identified can only accept USB-C cables. (Thunderbolt 2 can only accept Thunderbolt 2 cables.)
Be sure to check Apple’s info on how to identify ports on your Mac. It depends on the year your Mac was built, so be sure to double check. Mac does not identify ports with different colors.
You can also check your computer system to discover your computers USB ports. On a PC, enter Device Manager into your system search bar.
You’ll see an alphabetic list of all the devices on your PC.
On a Mac, click on the Apple to access About this Mac.
Select System Report.
If you want to learn more about USB protocols, I highly recommend starting with the Wiki here and checking out the “USB Implementers Forum, Inc. is a non-profit corporation founded by the group of companies that developed the Universal Serial Bus specification.” You can find out more about them here.