Laptops Mac MacBook

How do you connect an Ethernet cable to a MacBook Pro?

MacBook Pro M2
No port in a storm: modern MacBooks don't have Ethernet

If you’ve bought a relatively recent MacBook Pro, you’ll know that the laptops no longer have an Ethernet port. That’s fine, until you hit a situation where there’s no/patchy Wi-Fi, only a wire hanging out of the wall. Or if you want to get maximum speed and reliability by wiring up your laptop at home. Here, then, is how to connect an Ethernet cable to a MacBook Pro that doesn’t have an Ethernet socket.

Buy an Ethernet to USB-C adapter

Ethernet to USB-C adapter

The cheapest way to connect an Ethernet cable to your MacBook Pro is with an Ethernet to USB-C adapter. These are a cheap add-on. Here’s one on Amazon that costs £13 at the time of writing. (Note: I’ve not tested this particular model.)

You put the Ethernet cable in one end and plug the other end into any of the MacBook Pro’s USB-C ports. The Mac should automatically recognise the network connection. If for some reason it doesn’t, you should follow the instructions on Apple’s support site here.

I’ve used one of these adapters for years. They’re easy to slip into a laptop bag and can come in very handy in office environments, where the Wi-Fi is weak or heavily congested.

Use a Thunderbolt dock for your MacBook Pro

If, like me, you spend most of your time sat at a desk with your MacBook Pro connected to a monitor, it might be worth investing in a Thunderbolt dock for your Mac.

Warning: these things aren’t always cheap. The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Dock Pro that I use costs £350, although there are much cheaper docks with Ethernet ports available. This USB-3 model from Belkin costs a much more reasonable £50, and there’s a no-brand USB-C dock here on Amazon for £17.

Essentially, it boils down to the number of ports you need and whether you want to charge the laptop from the dock itself. The more ports/power you need, the more expensive the docks become.

I’d avoid any cheap, no-brand dock offering power delivery. That’s not something you want to take a risk on with an expensive MacBook Pro.

Buy a docking monitor

Although reasonably rare, it is possible to buy a monitor that doubles as a dock, including an Ethernet port. For example, this ViewSonic VG2456 includes an Ethernet and USB-C dock, which means you attach various peripherals to the screen and connect them all to your MacBook Pro with only one cable.

It might be a neater solution if you’re in the market for a new screen.

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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