The Apple Adapter Classroom Gear Guide

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If you use an Apple device, you are probably increasingly used to using dongles, adapters, or whatever else you want to call them. They give you the functionality that Apple doesn’t natively include because of design constraints or a forward thinking approach to new technologies. However, there are dozens of Apple adapters available, and it can be hard to know which ones are the right ones for any given situation. This edtech gear guide was written to help remedy that problem.


I want to… connect wired headphones to an iOS device with no headphone jack.

You need: Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter

More information: This dongle lets you plug 3.5mm headphones into a device that has no traditional headphone jack, however, it can be used with any iOS 10 device that has a lightning port. It can, for instance, be used to add an extra headphone jack to iPads, but a dual headphone splitter, or a multi-headphone splitter, would be cheaper (or more efficient) in the long run.


I want to… plug a traditional USB device into a new Apple MacBook.

You need: USB-C to USB-A Adapter

More information: If you own one of the newer MacBook laptops, you will be missing standard USB ports to plug in Bluetooth mice, a SMART board, or other USB accessories. This adapter restores that ability, but so do USB-C Hubs.


I want to… connect my new MacBook to the internet with an Ethernet cable.

You need: Anker USB-C to Ethernet adapter

More information: The Ethernet port has been missing on MacBooks for some time now. This adapter is for MacBook and 2016 MacBook Pro users who want to connect to the internet with a wired connection.


I want to… connect my old MacBook to the internet with an Ethernet cable.

You need: Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

More information: This is the same adapter as the one above, but it works with older MacBooks that don’t have the USB-C inputs. Instead, it converts a Thunderbolt port to an Ethernet port. You can also use the Apple USB Ethernet Adapter.


I want to… connect USB devices to my iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

You need: Lightning to USB Camera Adapter

More information: The Lightning to USB Camera Adapter was designed to help you transfer photos and videos from a digital camera to an iOS device. However, this handy dongle also allows you to connect a USB microphone for better audio recording, a USB keyboard for better typing, and some other low power USB accessories. It’s a handy adapter to have because of how flexible it is. You can’t use it for all your USB devices, (a mouse and a flash drive will not work), but it’s compatible with more than you think.


I want to… connect my older MacBook to a VGA projector or external monitor.

You need: Mini DisplayPort to VGA Adapter

More information: The majority of projectors used in schools today seem to have a VGA connection. A VGA connector is the trapezoid shaped port with pins on the male side and holes on the female side. This adapter lets you use a VGA cable with your MacBook so you can connect it to a projector, monitor or TV that has VGA connectors.


I want to… connect my new MacBook to a VGA projector or external monitor.

You need: USB-C to VGA Adapter (Apple price: $29)

More information: This dongle lets you continue to use a VGA projector with the newest MacBooks by converting one of your USB-C ports into a VGA connector.


I want to… connect my iPad to a VGA projector or external monitor.

You need: Lightning to VGA Adapter

More information: Another pricey adapter but a must have if you want to show your iPad on a SMART Board, projector or TV via a VGA cable. It needs no wifi access and is generally very reliable. The Apple adapter includes a lightning port to let you charge your device while it is on screen.

I want to… connect my MacBook to an HDMI projector

You need: USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

More information: This adapter comes with an HDMI port, as well as a USB-A port and a USB-C port for charging while connected. You can also use most third party USB-C hubs that have an HDMI port.


I want to… connect my iPad to an HDMI projector or external monitor.

You need: Lightning Digital AV Adapter

More information: This is the HDMI version of the adapter above. It works in exactly the same way, but connects to HDMI devices as opposed to VGA. It also includes a lightning port for charging while your iOS device is displayed on screen.

I want to… connect import media from an SD card with my Macbook

You need: USB-C to SD Card Reader

More information: For some reason, Apple still refuses to add the SD card slot on new Macbooks. Maybe it will return one day. Until then, you need this adapter or third party USB-C hubs that have an SD card slot.

I want to… charge and iOS device with a micro USB charger

You need: Lightning to Micro USB adapter

More information: Apple made these at the behest of the European Union who sought to standardize charging ports to reduce electronic waste. However, you can buy them in the United States if you want. As always, third-party options are available.



Need more help?

Unsure which dongle or adapter you need? Want to double check that you picked the right one? Leave a comment below, or drop me an email via the contact page, and include as much information about what you are trying to achieve and the devices you want to do it with. If there is an adapter out there that fills that need, I’ll tell you what it is, and where you can buy it.