Overcoming dongles on modern laptops


With the dawn of USB Type-C and the removal of traditional USB-A ports. A lot of people are stuck trying to use dongles for everything. While many people perceive dongles for laptops such as the MacBook Pro or certain thin laptops from Asus, Hewlett Packard among some others as something stupid or annoying. Others give in to it thinking that’s how things are now.

I see people using dongles for everything while others simply gave up and don’t connect anything. When I got my new MacBook Pro I too had a brief struggle with the concept. But then it hit me…

Just replace the damn cable! #duh

Apple, among other laptop manufacturers, have you believe that dongles are the way to go. Peripheral makers jumped on that bandwagon and make pointless docks (or hubs) and other nonsense accessories to “help you out”. And to some extent they are right – There aren’t enough compatible peripherals such as mice and hard disks yet. Many accessories do not have a USB Type-C port and thus require some kind of adapter or dongle.

I don’t have a ton of accessories, but I have only 1 dongle (more like an adapter). For my mouse. For a while I contemplated getting some sort of dock with a bunch of ports on it. But I couldn’t find a decent (and affordable) one that did what I wanted.

So I reconsidered my options – I don’t want a dock, I don’t want to buy a ton of dongles. And I certainly don’t want some pointless accessory hanging of the side of my laptop just so I can connect my External Hard disk or thumb drive.

Replacing some cables was the answer

So once I realised that dongles aren’t my thing, and hubs and docks are not optimised for my workflow and don’t fit in my minimalistic approach to my digital life. I thought about how I could easily solve this debacle in a different way.

I ended up getting these these:
usb-c cables
From left to right: USB-A to USB-C adapter from Apple, Micro-USB3.1 to USB-C cable and a USB-C cardreader from Apple.

For my SD-Card needs I very much would prefer to have a onboard card reader, but Apple disagreed… So I gave in to that nonsense and got one of their SD-Card readers.

Here you’ll see two of my USB harddisks connected. The one with the Floating Coconut label is an ordinary boring old USB3.1 drive that came with a MicroUSB3.1 to USB-A cable.
USB Harddisks

And so my life stays pretty much dongle free. For most laptops a card reader would have been external anyway. So I got the one that fits my laptop perfectly without dongles or adapters. The Sandisk drive is a more “modern” USB-C drive. So that’s compatible out of the box. For my mouse, a simple thing from Logitech, I use the USB-A to USB-C adapter I have.

And that’s really it. It is that simple… If your peripherals have detachable cables. Just replace the cable and be done with it. No dongles or docks required as some people will have you believe. No extra parts or peripherals to loose or forget. And for the most part it’s just business as usual.

Maybe I’ll find a USB-C thumb drive in the future, or one that has both Type-A and Type-C connectors… But I don’t really use those enough to actually care right now.

Suddenly USB Type-C isn’t all that bad anymore ๐Ÿ™‚