How to expand your MacBook Pro with these essential accessories

Before you buy a new cable to connect your printer directly to your USB-C Mac, check your router’s documentation to see whether it has a USB-A port that enables a printer to be shared over its network. 

Of course, the suitability of this option depends on the proximity of both bits of kit. If you use a Wi-Fi range extender, check its documentation too. Apple’s AirPort Express, for example, supports printer sharing.

Otherwise, if you have an older Mac as well, and you can attach your printer to it directly, you can make the printer available through it to your newer Mac in System Preferences’ Sharing pane.

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Cabled printers typically have a Type-B port at their cable’s peripheral end. You can replace your existing cable with one that has USB-C at the computer end, but be careful that you buy one with the correct Type-B connector, which differs between USB 3 and 2.0. 

Popular retailers such as Amazon carry options from the likes of Belkin, Cable Matters and Hapurs, which vary in price but start as low as £6.99/US$7.99/AUS$24.95.

If you use your printer infrequently then, instead of replacing its cable outright, consider Apple’s USB-C to USB-A adaptor (currently £9/US$9/AUS$12) for the flexibility to use it with other devices on the go, such as a thumb drive, when you don’t need to print.

USB storage and other peripherals

You can use Apple’s USB-C to USB-A adaptor to connect storage and other devices too, and it’ll serve you just fine with a desktop drive, say. 

However, for more portable devices, such as thumb drives, Satechi’s tiny USB-C to USB-A Adapter (£18.47/US$9.99) is far more suitable for stuffing in your pocket as it strips away the short cable extension that features on Apple’s offering. In the UK, we’ve previously seen this on sale from Satechi, through Amazon, for £8.

USB-C data cable

You may be tempted to carry just the charging cable that came with your MacBook Pro so you can connect portable USB-C storage while you’re away from home or work. 

However, if that device is capable of USB 3.0 transfer rates, you’re better off buying a second cable, because Apple’s Charge Cable will limit your external device’s performance to USB 2.0 speeds. Belkin’s data cable (£14/US$22/AUS$28.95) offers USB 3.1 speeds.

SD cards

Satechi makes an SD card reader (£18.99/US$14.99) that’s like a flash drive, with separate slots for full-size SD and microSD cards. 

We’ve had trouble finding this at Australian retailers; Apple sells SanDisk’s Extreme Pro SD UHS-II card reader for AUS$62.95 – appealingly compact, but if that isn’t much of a consideration for you, seriously consider combining your expansion needs into a single purchase of a USB-C dock (see later).